A letter to the gal who's just starting her business
So. You want to start a business. And you have no idea where to start + you're scared + you have no idea if it will pan out. Well. Let me tell you - all of those feelings are totally normal + totally valid + totally going to continue, so get used to them, ha. But trust me when I say, that besides having a child (I can imagine, I don't know firsthand yet), starting a business will be THE most rewarding thing you will ever do for yourself.
I always get nostalgic this time of year, because 8 years ago almost to the day, I decided that I could no longer work for somebody else. I felt with every bone in my body, every fiber of my being, that I had to start my own thing. And I had zero idea what I was doing, really. I had sold myself into a job that I was "underqualified" for (at least on paper) but quickly excelled, learned a lot, and grew passionate for a completely new industry that I learned the ins + outs of for two years but the details of how to actually run a business was pretty lost on me. But still, I decided to go for it.
I am the furthest thing from a nepo baby. I was raised by a single mom, lived in low-income section 8 apartment complexes, took the bus everywhere, and didn't have any mentors or role models, examples of business owners, or even people who were doing well financially. Everybody I knew was just getting by, pretty unhappy, and just going through the motions of life. Meanwhile, I was a dreamer, and was always a happy overachiever.
I was very shy in high school, so even through I was in prestigious extra-curriculars like cheerleading, Student Body. and the school newspaper, I still felt very much like an outsider looking in, so I kept to myself, did well in school, enjoyed my small group of friends, and that was pretty much it. I graduated, clawed my way into college via financial aid + student loans (again, all alone - I had no mentors), attracted a few boyfriends who helped me level up just by observing + being with them (they had come from better families), and eventually, step by step, built myself a six-figure business.
Through everything, I always felt in my soul that I would do something bigger + better from the examples that were laid out in front of me, and I simply knew in my heart that I would not end up in the situation that I had been born into.
Enough about me, though - and more about you. And I'm gonna cut right to the chase.
Have a plan. I definitely do not suggest quitting your job cold turkey like I did. Mostly because from my experience, and statistically speaking, its f*cking difficult. Statistics show that first-time entrepreneurs have an 18% chance of succeeding - but you can be a part of that 18% if you want it badly enough.
I had to though because my employer felt it was a conflict of interest. She never supported me leaving + was actually quite unprofessional about it, despite my being kind + loving + professional about it. To this day, I will thank her online + show my appreciation (well, up until this time last year, when I reached out + we got together for lunch + I got the closure that I needed - and the reminder that she is truly awful, ha.)
In hindsight, quitting cold turkey to pursue my business full time couldn't have been done any other way. For me, it was a natural progression, and it was time. I had known all of my life that I wanted to be an entrepreneur.
Be unabashed, bold, and fearless. Think big. And just make it f*cking happen.
Some things I could have done better from the beginning? Cherish relationships + connections. I am not one to burn bridges so to speak, but I do think that because I was growing as a woman as I was growing as a business person, I was learning a lot about different areas of my life all at once, and sometimes that took some navigating, to say the least. Ultimately we are all works in progress at every stage of life, but especially between the ages of 23-30, which was the time frame I was doing a lot of the building of my career.
Basically what I'm saying is that:
I did make some people cry.
I was rude at times.
I could have more been graceful with my delivery of things, more gentle, more patient, and more kind.
I was like a bull in a china shop because well - you know my story - I kinda felt like I needed to be.
And although I will never dull my sparkle or be less me or lower my expectations, delivery is everything + respect comes with being kind. I have been told that I am intimidating, and I sometimes forget that because when I look in the mirror I still just see a cute, shy non-threatening girl who's just trying to make it in this great big world.
You may change your mind, but just start. Don't be afraid to start, and fail. Or start, and decide it isn't for you. Or start, and switch it up. Or start, and realize that this entrepreneurial life just is not for you. Don't forget that plan though, obviously. This may be your first business, but it may not be your last. You may pivot, you may outgrow it. Shit, if you do well enough, you may even sell it. Be prepared to ebb + flow with the changes.
Be prepared to work hard. Those first 5 years I worked 70-80 hour weeks. 8 years later + I still work 40-50 hour weeks, although it's hard to truly calculate because I am never not thinking about work, networking, or working on my business in some way, shape or form. Honestly if you want to be an entrepreneur, and you're asking, or worried about, how many hours you'll be working a week, that's a red flag. It's a lifestyle, baby.
Start small if you must though, then work your way up. My business has been my only job, and my only source of income from the start, but you may have a different path. Be smart.
People will doubt you. People will be jealous. People will make fun of you. I remember a friend from college asked me why I was leaving the company I was with to start my own business because "I was doing so well". That immediately turned me off + I had to cut ties with that person. As they say - the girls that get it, get it. And the girls that don't, don't!
Overall, you must care about your business more than anything. You must be all-in.
There's so much more I can say, but I will leave it at that.
You got this, and I believe in you.
PC Rima Brindamour