This month, I celebrate one year in full-time entrepreneurship.
Of course, I’ve been building a biz for longer than that (I spent 15 months side hustlin’!), but it’s been 12 months since I walked into my boss’s office, submitted my “two weeks notice”, and said buh-bye to Corporate America and hello to the scary, exciting world of entrepreneurship.
I used to keep a Mark Twain quote up in my cubicle. I can remember staring at it during stressful afternoons, and daydreaming of a life outside of the “normal” 9-5:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
When I went full-time into my online business, I kept this quote in mind. And now, 12 months later, I can tell you that my surroundings are a little bit more familiar, but the unknown waters still exist. The exploration continues…
Read on for what I’ve learned during this past year.
12 Lessons Learned in 12 Months of Entrepreneurship:
1. The “little things” feel so incredibly rewarding.
The smallest things can bring the most happiness. A new email subscriber, a new Instagram follower, a new inquiry about SHEclub Monthly, etc. They may seem like small things, but being in charge of everything in my business, they feel like gigantic steps forward. There’s something about receiving 100% of the rewards of your efforts that is incredibly satisfying. Of course, there is a flip side to this…
2. It’s far too easy to take things personal.
While the good feels great, the bad can also sometimes feel worse. Losing a client or customer, getting an unsubscribe, etc. It’s way too easy to take things personal, so I remind myself that it’s impossible to please everyone all the time. And in the end, it’s not about serving everyone, it’s about serving those that want it.
3. Comparison is an emotional & business downer (note to self: don’t do it!).
“You can’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” -Unknown. Everyone has a different story and a different starting off point. I learned early on that any comparison to others needs to stop, because as Theodore Roosevelt so eloquently pointed out, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
4. Ignore the doubters.
Yes, there will be doubters who don’t share your same vision for business success. My own best friend doubted me at first. And a lot of my former acquaintances as well. But I knew my vision, and I stood true on my direction. You have to remind yourself that you are capable, worthy, and deserving of your success. And then go out there and get it.
5. Staying healthy is key for high-productivity.
Proper sleep and nutrition is even more important now than it was when I was in my 9-5. I can remember the mornings at the office after one-too-many glasses of wine. I would go through the motions and make it through the day, but those days don’t exist anymore. I can’t “go through the motions” now. In order to stay productive, I make it a priority to get 8+ hours of sleep, get my greens in, and drink plenty of water. Healthy Jess = Productive Jess!
6. I’m the worst AND best boss all at the same time.
Confession: I have “shiny-object” syndrome. I’m easily distracted and move quickly from project to project without finishing. As my own boss, I let myself do that, and I really shouldn’t. However, when it really comes down to the wire, I know how to create an action plan and buckle down. So I’m overly lenient (bad), but results-oriented (good).
7. Sleepless nights still exist.
I thought lying awake at night would diminish, but to be honest, I don’t think it ever goes away. Pondering about our future is a normal thing, the difference is that the thought process has changed from worry to uncertainty. And I don’t mind uncertainty. But the BIG change is that…
8. Mornings start with a smile (and a buzz of excitement).
Whereas I used to wake up with a feeling of uneasiness, I now start my day with the satisfaction that I am working towards my passions. I get excited to start a new blog post, source products for SHEclub, follow up with a potential client, or send an email out to my tribe.
9. Multitasking = Unproductive.
I used to love labeling myself as an “excellent multitasker”. When I was applying for corporate jobs, I had it listed as one of my top skills, and I prided myself on being able to do multiple things at once. When I tried to multitask in my business, I realized it was impossible. Doing two things (or more) at one time only leads to one result … not getting either of them done. Focusing on single-tasking was one of the best things I ever did for my business.
10. Perfection is an entrepreneur’s worst nightmare.
Let’s face it, we all have a little bit of perfectionism in us, am I right? I’m the type of person who has tons of ideas swirling in my head, but actually taking the time to create those ideas into something tangible is challenging. It’s in my nature to want everything to be perfect before I do anything. But perfectionism is a biz KILLER. A mentor once told me, “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” When I first launched SHEclub, I really didn’t know what I was doing … but I told myself I’d figure it out along the way (and it’s been a smashing success!).
11. Social media is a love/hate relationship.
Don’t get me wrong … being able to run a business by leveraging the reach and power of social media while I’m at home and in my PJ’s is an amazing thing, but it’s a catch-22. It’s really easy to stay connected, so it’s also not easy to disconnect. Sometimes I yearn for my 9-5 days when I didn’t feel guilty for not logging into Instagram for days (or even weeks).
12. Being a business owner is scary, exhilarating, and gratifying all at the same time – and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
There is no guaranteed steady paycheck and that can be scary … but I have never felt more alive and filled with wholeness and purpose. Being able to chart my own path and create my future is the best feeling imaginable. Entrepreneurship is truly an incredible way to make a living.