Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. This week's journal entry addresses a question that I've heard over and over again. It goes a little something like this: "I know I want to start my own business, but HOW?" (*insert exasperated tone*). The reason you might be feeling lost, frustrated, or just plain confused about where to start is because there is no checklist, no road map, no one-size-fits-all guide to starting a business. Think about it, we grow up in schools that give us outlines on what we need to do to achieve an A+ and then we work in jobs that come with bullet-pointed job descriptions and very clear performance benchmarks. But no one hands you a checklist when you start your own business. And even if there were such a thing, no one could guarantee that if you checked all of the boxes your business would be successful.
This brings up three really important points: (1) it is completely normal to feel lost, confused, and frustrated when you begin to embark upon your entrepreneurial journey, (2) you'll need to get comfortable living outside of your comfort zone for a while if you decide to start your own business, and (3) you have to accept there are no guarantees that your business will be successful (i.e. make money) even if you pour your whole heart into it. The first one speaks for itself. If you feel frustrated and lost, know you aren't alone. It might help to meet some other entrepreneurial friends - you know, people who are forging ahead on the same path as you. Nearly every city has entrepreneurial networking groups these days, so just Google around in your city and check out one of their events. There are a lot of women entrepreneur groups popping up these days, too.
The second point (living outside your comfort zone) is not quite as easy to tackle. If you're someone who only feels secure, stable and grounded working within the boundaries of your comfort zone, being an entrepreneur might not be the best choice. My advice: accept that and move on! Not everyone is meant to take the entrepreneurial path and that's not a bad thing. BUT, if you can handle the fact that life is going to feel uncertain for a while (I'm talking at least a couple of years), you might just find that you thrive outside your comfort zone. That's what happened to me. I was a lawyer (i.e. a risk-adverse, type A control freak) but after I quit the profession to pursue my jewelry business, I realized that I actually enjoy living outside my comfort zone. Now, I tend to thrive in new situations - I find them exciting and challenging, and I love how much I've grown as a result. So be honest with yourself - only you know whether your personality is or isn't suited to entrepreneurial life. And if it isn't, there is a better path for you and I know you're going to find it!
The third point is where a lot of people get tripped up. The reality is, if you start a business and give it 110% every single day for two years, there's still no guarantee that it'll be successful. And it's this fear, it's this risk, that holds people back. I get it. It's a hard one to bust through. But here's what I want you to reconsider: how are you defining "successful"? Making money, right? That's how everyone defines success when it comes to a business. I challenge you to have a different perspective and adopt a different definition of "successful." See, I had a business a few years before I had grace + hudson and it totally flopped. Would I call it a failure? Absolutely not. I learned *so* much from that experience, and I'm convinced that the lessons and knowledge I acquired from my first business made me successful now, with my second business. So in that sense, my first business was a "success" in my eyes. I walked away a richer person, full of knowledge and experience and skills I never knew I had - skills that would prepare me to open my second business 6 years later. The point is this: even if your business "fails" because it doesn't make enough money, you'll develop skills you didn't think you had, meet people you never would have met, learn things about yourself you didn't know before, and on and on the list goes. This, my friend, is hardly "failure"!
The last point I want to leave you with is this: no one out there starting their own business really knows exactly what they're doing. There is no one-size-fits-all guide like I said before, which means that everyone who started their own business just started SOMEWHERE and kept going. They tried different things and established what works and what doesn't. So start somewhere and start small - maybe for you that's doodling a few potential logo designs on the back of a napkin, or brainstorming a price list for your services or products. And then the dominoes start to fall and you're led to the next task, and the next, and the next. And before you know it, you have a functioning business that's generating revenue. You'll need to do lots of research along the way, but we are living in an unprecedented era where you can Google just about anything and find an article, book, webinar, or online course on the topic. Have a little patience and know that it takes time. Brick by brick the foundation of your business will come together. And, in the end, even if you "fail" by traditional standards, you will have succeeded in developing a lot of new skills and you will have grown tremendously as a person.
I wish you the courage to start somewhere! Anywhere! Just start.