Being an entrepreneur for 6+ years has been a roller coaster of an adventure emotionally and physically. I have learned more being an entrepreneur than 15+ years in corporate, but the background of being in corporate fashion definitely helped me succeed in owning my own business. I get asked a variety of question in working for myself and typically answer them one on one. I rarely write about my background and thought it was about time. I talk to those that work with me quite frequently and Shannon, one of my longest employees recommend I write about the top 5 things I’ve learned as an entrepreneur. So here goes!
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#1 Nothing will go as expected. I don’t predict the future and embrace what’s in front of me. In the first year of owning T&J Designs, our bracelet design was featured on the Today Show which took our company full swing into a full time job. It was exciting and nothing we ever expected. A few years later, we were accepted in one of the best accelerator programs in the United States and my sister and I traveled to San Francisco every week for 4 months. A few years down the line now, we are taking our company off line and only wholesaling. So much has happened that we are proud of, but this year we decided to take some time off and focus on our blogs and social media. In 3 months of deciding to blog full time, I’ve traveled to Mexico three times and did a collaboration with Coca-Cola and each week I’ve been busier and busier. More opportunities continue to come and I am beyond excited. Goals are still laid out, but I take each day as a new one. Nothing goes as expected and that’s been pleasantly welcomed!
#2 Work life balance does not exist, but this is dependent on you, your business and where you want it to be. You have to love what you do in being an entrepreneur. Work molds into becoming a huge part of you, but work doesn’t feel like work. I’m ok with a lack of balance; I love what I do and love that I get to plan my own schedule. Even though I’m sitting here writing this post Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, I love blogging/social media, sharing and connecting with those that follow me. When I pursue something, I take a huge dive into it and probably lose myself a little bit too much in the beginning. I set goals into place and I want to achieve them by a certain time. This is where I said it’s up to you, if you are laid back and the plan is to achieve something in a longer time span, this may not be a problem. But overall, most successful entrepreneurs I know, feel the same way. There is no work life balance.
#3 Network, network, network and hire great people. From customers sharing our products to editorial press we have received, networking has been a huge impact to my business and blog. I value the relationships I make and try hard to be easy to work with, reliable, honest, direct, and appreciative! I also love creating great products or content and put my heart into it. In networking, when I first started the business/blog I went out 2 times a week by myself. Gather business cards, email people, set up lunches, etc and create real relationships and DO NOT ASK for things. Too many times people only think of themselves. Cultivate real relationships first.
In addition, hiring a great team is essential. Cherish those that work hard and constantly teach, learn and grow together. Keep the hardworking team happy and the business will continue to thrive. Be sure to appreciate their work and listen to their feedback. Receiving feedback and receiving it well is very important. Any one threatened by someone they hire is not great at what they do.
#4 Be open to all opportunities. I rarely say no and when I first started my business, I said yes to A LOT of events, hosting, and collaborations when it came to blogging. And when it came to T&J Designs we took the same approach. We did retail, wholesale, pop ups, showrooms, Poshmark; we tried it all to learn everything we could. From being open to different opportunities, I continue to be approached for more jobs AND I’ve met so many wonderful people along the way. You just never know where something is going to take you. I also believe in creating opportunities as well. A perfect example is that I love food. Previously I didn’t share too much of where I ate or what I loved, but I wanted to combine my love of food and fashion. When I embarked onto blogging full time, I decided to be creative and figure out how to layer it in. As you’ve seen lately on my blog, I’ve been able to combine both passions! And by pursuing food I got to partner with Coca Cola and Baskin Robbins on my instagram last month (both which I love). This here is a recent popular food and fashion post.
Be open, seize opportunities and push yourself.
#5 Time is money. This was a key thing I had to learn along the way. My time is valuable so I need to be organized, have productive meetings, and I do have to say NO to some meetings. When I first started my business and blog, I did take a lot more meetings, but those were valuable as I was learning and networking. Now I’m more thoughtful about things as I have built a business, view my social media as an ad space and the projects and meetings I take should be mutually beneficial. I’m certainly not saying it’s all about money, but my decisions about my time are based on what I have built. Overall I try to be smarter about my time. In the beginning phases of any business though, don’t say no to things immediately, remember, you have to “build” your business or blog and learn from it.
If you are out there reaching out for advice, please be aware asking for “help” is ok, but be thoughtful about it and value the person’s time you are reaching out to. Spending 2-3 hours helping “you” is great for YOU, but also understand if someone says no. A $3.50 coffee does not pay for a $300 a hour rate or more that someone usually may charge or make in their job. Find creative ways to gather information or meet the person at an event or email them a few questions (which I’m always open to)!
Ending with my top advice. Just do It (as Nike says!). If you want to do something and talk about it constantly. JUST DO IT. Take those steps to follow your passion and keep learning.
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