...is ONE YEAR OLD!!!
March 31, 2017, I walked away from the full-time job I'd held for two years, free and feeling a grand invitation to do whatever I wanted with life. It was time to start something new - to run down a dream - to figure it out piece by piece. Along with all that came the reality that I could fail - and that failing was more of an assortment of possible nosedives than a single catastrophic event.
A year in, I've come to a theory. While things can fall through and mistakes can be made, "failure" now feels a little like a made-up concept. (I want to take this moment to note the emotional, spiritual, and financial support of my husband Quinn as well as that of my family. Without them, I would certainly never have been able to come this far - with the business or with anything else, for that matter.) Still, failure, at the start and throughout, has been more of a self-sabotaging fear. The reality is much less scary. It looks like a bunch of challenges that, if I learn and try hard, I can get through. Sometimes, my motivation falters. Sometimes, I feel exhausted. But at the end of the day, I know that if I want to keep this thing up, it's all up to me to do it. That's my power and my choice, and "failure" doesn't make sense in that calculation.
So, for anyone reading this who's already an entrepreneur, I hope you identify with this and with my thoughts below. I would love to hear from you about your experiences, things you've learned, struggles you've faced, all that. And for anyone reading this who's considering becoming an entrepreneur, may my short - but valuable - experience help you answer some questions, excite you, and make you feel part of a community. I am always here to be a friend or mentor, am always up for a coffee, and will always do what I can to lift you up.
In the spirit of reflection on my little anniversary, here's a short list of takeaways from the past year.
Jess' Top Ten Lessons Learned in Year One of Entrepreneurship.
- Learning is the only way to move forward.
Sometimes (more frequently than I'd like to admit), I get stuck on something very simply because I haven't taken the time to learn what I need to move through it. Find the time. Calendar block. Tackle it!
- You can't have everything under control at once.
I've had a number of breakdowns over the past year out of frustration that I didn't "have it all together." It's still an issue for me to be OK with not being in control of every aspect of the business (and in life, let's be real!) - but this is a mantra. The whole picture is like a patchwork; do your best with what's in front of you, and spend your time as wisely as you can. That's all you may demand.
- Reaching out is 1,000% preferable to self-sourcing.
This one is big for me, and I'm definitely still working on it. I tend to be a highly independent person who <emotionally> thinks she can figure everything out even though <logically> she knows others can really lighten the load. All of us have our own strengths. All of us have things we're not great at, things we feel yucky doing, things that don't come naturally, etc. That's where the power of other humans can help you. Bring them into your gig - however that looks. There's also the whole socializing to keep from isolation and depression thing. That's so important!!
- Among like businesses, you still have something to offer.
Don't be afraid of other business owners who do what you do! As you find your style, you'll blossom into a unique offering for your market. And you will have something(s) to offer that no one else does.
- It is OK not to post to social media every single day.
Wow. I'm just going to let that one sit because I think it says it all.
- Creating an Excel doc is better than doing nothing.
I spent a lot of time procrastinating organizing my various client tracking and accounting things. Again, if you calendar block it and just get it done, the feeling of relief is soo much better than shoving it to the back of your mind to linger there like a rain cloud.
- There may be seasons to your work (in my case, there definitely are).
So plan accordingly, eh? I'm discovering what my seasons are still - and what my possibilities are for making the year more flowy.
- Finding mentors among your people is really helpful.
Also working on solidifying these. But every single time I reach out to a family member or friend about business things, I always feel so fresh and clear. Great to get another's perspective, always - if only to shake you out of your own.
- Perfectionism is the enemy. Period.
Yep, that's it.
- Amid all the planning and doing, self-love is crucial to survival.
Maybe it seems like another to-do after you've gotten so into the groove (or grind?) of working, working, working. Maybe it's another thing to calendar block. But do it. I'm getting there.
Thank you so much for your support of ink & flourish in its first little year! I hope there are many years of art, projects, collaborations, workshops, fun, and hard work ahead. If you have a project in mind that you'd like to talk to me about or you'd like to get together to chat, please reach out anytime!