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5 Things I Wish I Would Have Known Before Becoming an Entrepreneur

The Things People Don't Tell You About Running Your Own Business
Filed Under > 5 Things

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Entrepreneurism is not for the weak of heart.  And while yes sometimes becoming an entrepreneur is a well thought out, strategic plan, I’ve found in talking to other entrepreneurs, most of the time it just happens to you.  It happens usually in a combustion of curiosity, desperation, frustration and passion; or at least that’s how it happened to me.

To be honest, I fell and then very reluctantly, jumped head first into entrepreneurism (read more about my journey HERE).  I didn’t really think about what an entrepreneur actually meant.  What it would mean to run my own blog, an e-commerce boutique and a design and consulting division.  I didn’t think about the accountability and responsibility it would take day to day to lead a team, not to mention to succeed. You’ll find a lot of entrepreneur success stories, and you’ll read a lot of advice pieces.  But what you can’t seem to  find are the not-so-glamorous learnings from an entrepreneur that’s knee-deep in it.  And the emotional side of it all?  Well, that’s not ever talked about…like ever. 

So today I thought I’d rectify that and share five things I wish I had known before becoming an entrepreneur.   I hope this serves as a helpful collection of thought-provoking points, but more importantly I hope that this reaches all of the entrepreneurs out there that need to hear it.  Because, together, we know that the struggle is real and the more we talk about and share our experiences the better we will be because of it. Truly, MKR

NO. 1… As an entrepreneur, you’re responsible for every single decision.  I repeat EVERY SINGLE DECISION.  From the smallest, most trivial questions to the craziest, largest things…you’re the one that calls the ultimate shot.  Which at first sounds fun especially for Type A’s like me, but becomes an immense amount of pressure quite quickly, because let’s be honest one person can never have all the answers.  TAKEAWAY:  Surround yourself with employees and people that you trust to take some of the pressure off.  Even in the beginning when you may not have employees friends, family, and other entrepreneurs can make great sounding boards especially when it comes to the big make or break decisions.  And ask questions, like I said no one has all the answers so don’t be afraid to ask lots and lots of questions.

NO. 2… Only fellow entrepreneurs will understand what it’s like to be an entrepreneur.  I’m not being exclusionary to anyone else hustling everyday but a CEO, COO, Vice President, etc., etc…they don’t have skin in the game like you do as a Founder.  If the biz they work for goes under, they will find a new job, if your biz goes under…well let’s just say it’s not that easy.  TAKEAWAY:  As an entrepreneur, it’s crucial to find a group of fellow entrepreneurs for mentoring, support, and questions you have along the way.  I’m in the process of joining an entrepreneurs-only group that meets monthly, and am actively involved with the founders of The Southern Coterie, as well as numerous other creative entrepreneurs in the Atlanta area.  Don’t have an already established entrepreneurial group in your area?  Start one yourself; think coffee and cocktails with a side of help and support whenever needed.  And if you’re just beginning a great FREE resource is Score Mentors.

NO. 3…You’ll be kept up at night with the constant question of what’s next, what can you improve, what can you do to succeed, etc.  A friend of mine, who’s also an entrepreneur, said it best, “it’s not my kids that keep me up at night—it’s my business.”  And I can fully see how that would be the case.  As an entrepreneur, the livelihood of everyone on your team depends on you, and that burden will never, ever go away.  You also can’t leave your own business at the door like you can with a corporate job…it will ALWAYS follow you home and consume you at all hours.  Personally, the question of scaling a business, knowing what growth really means (and that bigger isn’t always better), and all in all staying close to our mission statement and passion in everything we do is what keeps me up at night.  And I know those questions may change but as an entrepreneur they will never go away.  TAKEAWAY:  Learn to enjoy that you have this burden to carry.  Practice meditation.  And try to unplug at night best you can.  Wish I could provide more “answers” but I’m still struggling with this one friends.

NO. 4…Founders depression is real.  I didn’t have a name for it before I read this spot-on article from Create & Cultivate about founder’s depression, and it was a breath of fresh air.  No one ever talks about the self-doubt that comes with owning a business, so to know that other entrepreneur’s struggle with the same constant question…are you happier than before BLANK (before you left your job, before you grew, before you invested more money, before you expanded, etc. etc.)?  The blank will always change, but the main question will not.  It’s a serious question, and before starting WOM I would have balked at the thought.  Of course I would be happier being my own boss, making my own hours, being able to be creative every day.  But on the long days—when everything seems to be crashing down, and you’re responsible for all of it—it’s hard not to consider turning it all back in for the 9-to-5 you can leave at the door.  TAKEAWAY:  Talk to others, be open and honest about the good AND the bad and don’t make any rash decisions in the heat of the moment.  We all have bad days, bad weeks, heck bad months, but that which does not kill you (or rather make you throw in the towel) will inevitably make you stronger.

NO. 5…Don’t compare your middle to someone else’s end.  It’s really easy, especially in this digital world we live in, to play the comparison game.  Just don’t.  It will NEVER, ever make you feel better or more importantly it will never help you grow your business.  We all have our own path, so be patient, don’t take shortcuts, and stay authentic.  And above all else remember being entrepreneur is pretty damn amazing! TAKEAWAY: It’s about the journey not the destination

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ADDITIONAL CREDITS:

Photography, Rustic White for Waiting on Martha

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  • This is SO good, Mandy. I had this conversation with someone over lunch today. Thank you for always being candid and sharing advice. Praise hands!

  • This is something that I seriously needed to read today. So amazing seeing how much WOM has grown over the years! Thanks for sharing this candid honesty — definitely have realized all these things myself the last few years and they are all so true.

  • Jessica Webber / 07.22.2016

    Spot on,Mandy! Thanks, for the reminders and the encouragement!

  • Love this Mandy, and so true! Very helpful as an entrepreneur since age 18, and it’s always relevant. Also, LOVING the new logo!!

  • I couldn’t have said it better, Mandy. People don’t realize how complicated running a business is. It’s refreshing to hear your honesty. Thanks for sharing.

  • This article is the glittery glimmer of hope I needed! Feelings of uncertainty paired with uncomfortability have me in a tizzy but hearing your candid comments about being your own #bossbabe have rested my soul! Thank you for sharing Mandy- we will keep on keeping on!

  • all of this, mandy! PS could i crash the entrepreneur monthly meetup? haha 🙂

  • Shavonda / 09.03.2016

    This lieterally couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m at the very beginning stages of plunging into entrepreneurship and I’m FREAKING OUT. Already ive been up at night, worried, second guessing, questioning my sanity. Its good to know that these feelings are completely normal and that I can and will get through them.

  • Jetta / 11.26.2016

    I am interested in hearing about using essential oils with the season. Thanks!

  • Thank you for sharing these truths, Mandy! As always, I’m so grateful for your grace and candor. So many make it look so easy online, it’s nice to know that even someone as established as yourself has those moments of fear, comparison and question. XO

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