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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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Photography, Rustic White for Waiting on Martha

Let’s Talk: The Perfect Beach Read

The Psychology Behind Enjoying a Good Book on Vacation
Filed Under > Everyday

Reading on vacation, Waiting on Martha

I relish the thought of getting caught up in a great book.  Discovering a page-turner, and entering into a far away literary world with characters I can almost touch and feel is one of my favorite things. I was recently swept up in the world inside All The Light We Cannot See, and I’m currently roaming the Scottish countryside in the second book of the Outlander series. 

I was eager to click on this link last week about the psychology of the perfect beach read while I was poking around on Luella & June (one of my favorite blogs).  Like everyone else, I love a good beach read.  My friends and I have passed around addicting titles by Gillian Flynn, Emily Griffin, Elin Hilderbrand & more.  So I was fascinated with learning about why these beach reads are so great. 

In the article, writer Jenni Avins explains, thanks to psychotherapist Robin Rosenberg, that vacation heightens our capacity to immerse ourselves in a good read.  While on vacation, we’re less stressed and more open to becoming swept away with a story. 

And a great story—a literary, character-driven story—can be just as beneficial for us in life after vacation.  In the article, Keith Oatley, a professor emeritus at the University of Toronto, a novelist and the author of a forthcoming paper on the psychology of fiction, to be published in Trends in Cognitive Sciences this month, explains that these stories can make us more caring, emphatic people after reading them on vacation. “It enables us to get more involved with understanding other people,” says Oatley. 

Tell me, have you found any good beach reads this summer?  What books are sweeping you away right now?  Have any literary characters in particular stuck with you?  I’d LOVE to hear in the comments below.  Cheers, Kat

P.S.  Looking for your next perfect beach read?  Check out GoodRead’s list for a few great ideas. xo

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Photography, Chic

Let’s Talk: How to Small Talk Like a Pro

Broaching the Subject of Dreaded Small Talk & Ways to Make It Mean More
Filed Under > Let's Talk

How to small talk like a pro, Waiting on Martha

I consider myself an extrovert, and I like spending time with friends and meeting new people.  But while I technically enjoy talking to others, I sometimes dread the small talk. (Please tell me I’m not alone!) Whether it’s with strangers or even my best friends, small talk oftentimes feel too surface-y.  On those occasions when I catch myself talking about the weather, I start to wonder if I’m even an extrovert after all.  I hate feeling the need to fill the air with light—sometimes inauthentic—conversation, and when I do so, I’m filled with self-doubt about my ability to hold a substantial conversation at all. 

I recently read two pieces online that made me think further about the subject of small talk.  Instead of dismissing it as something I would never be good at, I began to wonder if maybe there WERE ways I could tackle the topic and feel more comfortable with it.  

I’ve always heard that the best way to get someone talking is asking them about themselves.  But then what?  This Goop article explains that that’s when you ask the how and why questions.  And then that’s when you step back and actually listen.  The article on how to make small talk more meaningful has resonated with me ever since I read it because it has encouraged me to see each conversation (even the surface-level ones) as opportunities to learn something more and delve deeper into a subject. Reading the line “everyone you’ll ever meet knows something you don’t” caused a big light bulb to go on in my mind.

The other piece that resonated with me was this Fast Company’s chat with former national television anchor Tom Brokaw on how to talk to anyone. Through his experience in listening to others talk about themselves, Brokaw relies on an element of surprise that helps engage the other person.  He avoids the obvious questions, and in turn he’s able to get spontaneous reactions from people that reveal who they are or what the issue is all about.  I’m definitely guilty of asking obvious questions in order to keep the conversation going how I think it will go, but now I’m seeing that that’s only confining it to stay surface level. 

Say I’m on a date with my boyfriend, a networking event for WOM, a party with my friends or visiting with my family, I’m now thinking of ways to make the small talk more than just that.  Tell me, do you find yourself dreading small talk too?  How do you aim to make it easier?  More meaningful?  Cheers, Kat

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Featured image, The Beach People

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