If you told me two years ago, that I would take a leap and become an entrepreneur, I'd tell you, you were crazy! Anyone who knew me over the last 10 years, knew I was more of a follower and didn't mind working under instruction. Then again, I was just under the assumption I needed to follow "the path": go to college, find my passion, graduate, and then work my way up the corporate ladder to a great high-paying job with benefits in my field. I followed that path to a tee and then decided it wasn't for me. Does this sound familiar? Have you been in this situation? The funny thing is, this was never me. I was never the kid who went out of their way to be different. If anything, I went out of my way to conform. I hate being the center of attention and am very much an introvert. None of these characteristics added up to wanting to be an entrepreneur.
At age 22, I quit my (not-so-awesome) design job, moved to a new town, with 3k to my name and created TwinFin Media. Which let me add, at the time was just a name, a blank website, three people, no business plan, no clients, and a huge risk! I was ready to get things started, and create my dream job. After over a year of making it happen, I have learned some valuable life lessons. Life lessons that may have taken years to learn because I probably wouldn't have learned them in an entry level job. Here are my 15 lessons I learned in one year of being a young entrepreneur:
1. Keep taking risks: The more you push yourself out of your comfort zone the more you and your business will grow. These risks will always be scary, but at the same time you will achieve things you never even thought you could achieve!
2. Shit will never stop hitting the fan: This is so true! Things will always go wrong - that is just something you have to accept when running your own business. Over time you will get better at dealing with the problems and your wins will outweigh your losses. As long as you learn from your mistakes, you're still heading in the right direction.
3. People who appreciate your work will pay your prices: This is a HUGE one! I think every freelancer has gone through this struggle. When you first start your business you undersell yourself just so you can get clients. Some people bite, some people don't. Why? Some people are just cheap bastards, while others don't trust your prices because they are too low. People who respect your work and want to equally invest in their company will pay your prices. You DO NOT work for $10 an hour!
4. Learn to say no - it's the best tool you will bring to your biz: This goes hand in hand with number three. Saying no to clients is not the end of the world. You will have more clients, don't worry. If you have a difficult 'potential' client, imagine how much more difficult they will get once they pay you! People who don't respect you or your work, are not worth your time. It will save you A LOT of headaches and time reading their passive aggressive emails, by just saying no from the start. Hey, you're the boss, you can say no to who ever you want! How cool is that?!
5. SAVE, SAVE, SAVE - Some months you will make two months worth of paychecks - other months you won't: This is a major lesson. Going from a job that pays every two weeks and takes taxes out to a job that does not run on a schedule and doesn't take taxes out was a completely new concept I had to learn. Especially running a start-up company, you have to be understanding of the fact that one month you may go without a paycheck and the next you will make two months salary. You have to be willing to save and be frugal with the money you do make in the first year of your business.
6 Your vision will change, never forget your WHY: As your business grows, you also grow as a person. As things in your business workout or don't workout - you need to be able to redirect your vision and make your business work for you. You may develop a different passion along the way that you want to incorporate. Whatever it is, never lose sight of why you wanted to start your company in the first place. And always do it for you and to make yourself happy.
7 Working from home is not always glamorous like Pinterest has you believe: Those pretty desks you see on Pinterest are a lie. Especially in start-up mode, your desk will be whatever you can get your hands on in a place you can get decent wifi. The first five months of our business we worked at our old kitchen table that came with our rental, mooching wifi from our neighbors (whose signal was flawless by the way!). Some days you will be in the same pajamas you have been in for the last two days, running on no sleep, and sipping your 16th cup of coffee out of the same cup. Okay that's a bit extreme but hey, you get the idea. If you are working for Instagram perfection - you're doing something wrong. (See #12)
8 Too many people will question you based on your age, rather than your talent: I knew going into this whole adventure this may be an issue, but what was so shocking was the amount of people who are close to you who will bring up the age thing. It automatically showed me who I could count on, who believed in me, and who wanted to see me succeed. So shoutout to those people who never touched upon my age, or brought age into the equation once. You're the real MVPs!
9 You will work past 5 p.m. and on weekends - A LOT: Holy cow is this statement truer than true, or what! Being an entrepreneur has no schedule. You could be up working at 7 a.m. or even up until 2 a.m. There is no time frame -- no clock-out time. And the best part is, you won't get paid for overtime... at least not yet. The people who just want a job don't become entrepreneurs -- the people who want to pursue their passions do. Remember that. So while those late nights may not always be the greatest, you're showing motivation to pursue your dreams.
10 You will face an emotional struggle and question if this is all worth it: It's not all sunshine and rainbows. Especially being a young entrepreneur, going through things a lot of your friends aren't going through can be tough at times. You will questions if this is all worth it, and that's okay. Trust me, it will be. You'll realize that after one too many calls to your mom and dad. How are parents so good at fixing problems? Like even 200 miles away and over the phone, my parents can basically fix anything and turn my day around. It's incredible!
11 Perfection and progress don't go hand in hand: Being an entrepreneur can get really exhausting quick, if all you do is spend your day needing everything to be perfect. Of course striving for perfection in your business is important but let yourself make mistakes and take risks. Thats where the real growth happens. Stop looking at everyones picture perfect Instagram feeds and comparing yourself to them. If you copy them, how are you achieving your WHY and standing out amongst the crowd? Oh right.. you probably aren't. Strive for "perfect enough" and move along.
12 It will all be worth it: After all the ups and downs, the wins and the losses, it will all be worth it in the end and your dreams will become a reality!Becoming an entrepreneur means freedom. You aren't locked down to an office with a mandatory 9-5 schedule. Take time to off, travel, go on crazy adventures. Don't overwork yourself. Go have some fun. You deserve it!