The age old conversation starter...
person: what do you do for a living?
me: i own a retail store.
person: oh wow! you work for yourself?! that is amazing.
(in my mind)
Entrepreneur, along with Disruptor, Founder, GirlBoss, Influencer, Self Made and so on, are hot words in our culture today and impossible to avoid- much like it's impossible to avoid trying to establish yourself with one of these sexy titles. in today's work culture we are seeing lifestyle bloggers, concept brands and the individuals behind them reach a broader audience than ever before, monetize and gain celebrity status success.
Unless you don't find yourself or your brand making these waves.
Then it's incredibly difficult.
seeing the success of others can be jading, almost paralyzing at times. you are only human to feel that way! it can leave you feeling unequipped and questioning your ability based on experience and education. it will leave you feeling the need to keep one foot in, one foot out at times. you will question if you are doing the right thing. if you should get another job.
according to Mike Row of Dirty Jobs, chasing your passion is not the best advice. sometimes, you just need to have a job and save your passion for a hobby.
doesn't sound sexy? neither does credit card debt, y'all.
as for me, owning a lingerie store sounds sexy regardless, but it has been anything but. which is why i want to share with you my very real, unsexy side of entrepreneur- disrupting- girl boss -founding (yet to find) self made, personal experience.
SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT A MEASURING STICK
if you have been trying to build your brand and can't seem to get over the last hurdle, social media may not help you stay motivated. you will find yourself seeing bloggers and social media influencers being idolized and compare the success of your business or their vast audience to your own and want to bang your head against the wall. it's natural to scan Instagram feeds of new start ups, see their success and applaud them while simultaneously wondering to yourself,
(i can't be the only one)
social media can mentally make or break you but fortunately, it isn't a true measure of success. your likes and following may not reflect the quantity you desire, but you need to ask yourself deeper questions;
are you turning over product?
is your customer base repeating itself and building off word of mouth referrals?
is your brand growing?
THE MUCH NEEDED ESSENTIAL- A SUPPORT SYSTEM
another thing you may not take into consideration, and what most people don't share, is their financial landscape or the additional support they may have to pursue their passion or entrepreneurship.
Of course, that is not required nor should it be of anyone.
i'm not implying that everyone who finds success in entrepreneurship has this cushion, but it's something you should 100% take into consideration when giving up your 9-5 to pursue your dream. You better believe the difference of success and failure lies in these details.
-will you have a partner holding down a steady income while you are pursuing your dream
-do you come from money and have a cushion to fall back on
-do you have any dependents? (there will be times where you cannot pay yourself - how does this effect your household?)
for those of you who don't have the financial support, I caution you, entrepreneurship is not for the weak hearted.... it takes a lot of grit and luck. and let's face it, some people really are just lucky. things fall into place right where they need them, they know the right people, or their timing is right.
yes, it can be that easy.
when luck is not on your side, you will need all the grit you can muster to grind it out.
Grit and a side of YES to the following questions:
-is stress something that you can compartmentalize?
-do you have the energy to be consumed 24/7 for an indefinite amount of time?
-can you put aside the opinions of of everyone around you and not take things personal?
THE STRUGGLE IS YOURS, AND YOURS ALONE
let me start off by saying this is not a criticism to yours (or my) friends and family. i believe they are genuinely happy and excited for you, but unless they've started their own business or worked for themselves, they have no idea what's going on behind the scenes and what you are experiencing. much like social media, you will find yourself quick to 'fake it til you make it'. people will tell you that you have something like no one else (maybe you do). even those who have built a business and have been through the grind will insist that you are going to make it.
that success always comes right after the low.
how long must the low last?
how can i explain the feeling of being consumed with doubt and worry only to have the people around you rooting and cheering for you?
it's an impossible feeling...
i think the technical term is 'mind fucked'
the QUESTION is:
do you have the Capital, Cushion AND Grit to hang in there?
only you know that answer.
separating their voices with the reality of your business is actually more difficult than it sounds.
let me reiterate, you must be able to compartmentalize.
YOU ARE NOT DEFINED BY THE SUCCESS OR FAILURE OF YOUR BUSINESS
when your identity has become so wrapped up in your business venture that you can't see straight, you have a problem. i can't stress this to you enough-
YOU are not your business idea.
navigating the emotional ups and downs of your business is grueling. depending on any given moment you could be riding cloud 9 only to receive a bad review and find yourself in tears. it can be paralyzing because it's so personal. it's your baby. it can drive into your insecurities and make you question things about yourself that have nothing to do with running a business.
<am i good enough? i should know how to do this. what was i thinking?>
if throwing down financial forecasts is something that comes natural to you, but sales and marketing do not, don't sweat it. do not spend a minute of your time beating yourself up over it.
my POINT is this:
running a business is a learning process and experience...
one that will show you sides of yourself and teach you beyond measure.
but at the end of the day, it's not who you are.
you have to learn to remove yourself from the outcome to some degree. this doesn't mean you don't work hard and give it your all. you just have to stay mindful and keep things in perspective.
to keep things in perspective you will need the following:
-do you have a strong shoulder, mentors and advisors to lean on?
(these are not friends and family. these are people who know your financial landscape- both personal and business)
are you clear and confident about the skills you bring to the table? this isn't underestimating your abilities, but instead admitting where you excel and where you don't - hire the rest.
my skill set and passion is in the human experience; connecting with people, sharing our experiences, and providing a space that allows every person that comes in to feel safe, vulnerable and empowered.
i may not have succeeded in expansion, being profitable or claimed any cool titles but, i know for fact that i've inspired others and been inspired.
when i'm interacting with people, i'm reminded that life isn't about how much we make or how many likes we get on Instagram, but instead, that we are not alone on life's journey.
that's what keeps me coming back for more.
what keeps you coming back?