It’s officially been a year of starting and running my own business – A.M. CLUB – and it has not been all champagne showers and bundles of flowers, BUT it has been the most fulfilling and best year of my life for sure.
I now feel very grounded with where my business is at, and have a clear vision of where I intend to go. Today, I want to go over the past year and share with you all a few helpful lessons I’ve learned as a business owner and entrepreneur.
11 THINGS I’VE LEARNED FROM RUNNING MY OWN BUSINESS
IT COMES WITH EXTREME HIGHS AND LOWS
As the founder of a business, the connection you feel to it’s successes and failures is far more pronounced and profound than the connection the average employee feels. Every milestone can hold as much significance as if it were your child—first logo, first sample, first bank account, first intern, first store account. I lived the rollercoaster of A.M. Club’s early days fully, enjoying/crying happy tears for every win to the fullest and feeling every blow incredibly deeply and wanting to smack someone or something.
Take notes and take photos to remember these times. Having your memories from a moment on top to reference during a moment in the pits can help put things in perspective and get you to the next milestone.
THE 9-5 MINDSET CAN BE DAMAGING AND LIMITING TO A CREATIVE BUSINESS.
Creative inspiration doesn’t typically come during a specific time each day. To succeed, you sometimes need to let the 9-5 mentality go, and allow yourself to work when you feel most inspired. Yes, this can lead to irregular working hours, but I also think it leads to better, less “forced” work. Generally, I aim to stick to the same working hours each day, but if I’m just not feeling inspired or motivated, I know that I need to take a break and come back to it later. I’m guilty of working too much – says my dad – but honestly if you love what you do then you need to put in the work – especially the first few years to take off. I still have not gotten down the perfect work/life balance but I’m definitely getting better I’d say. Know when to step back for a bit and then jump back in with a fresh mind – this will help you produce better work. It’s all about creating processes.
LEARN HOW TO SAY NO AND PRIORITIZE YOUR TIME
You’re not going to be able to make every brunch or birthday party your friends invite you to. You can’t accommodate every friend who comes into town to visit. And you don’t need to do everyone favors when they ask. Your time is valuable and like Jay Z said “my presence is a present.” Jk that’s arrogant af, but seriously – learn how to spend your days most productively and doing what will make YOU happy.
“STICK TO THE PLAN.” *Big Sean voice* TO DO LISTS ARE A MUST
Post its are your best friend – use them consistently. Everyone has their own way of staying organized, but personally I have to write everything down and have it in front of me because it helps me prioritize and plan my days, weeks and months. Create to do lists and schedule out your short term goals, long term goals and daily tasks you have to get done. Then just start with the first post it and go from there. The hardest part really is starting so just get the ball rolling and start crunching up those post its.
PRIORITIZE YOUR OWN NEEDS, OR NO ONE WILL
You and your company are not one and the same, and your company will not make sure you eat well, sleep well, see your family, and exercise. It is easy to become fully absorbed in your business and put off other important things, so keep your professional and personal priorities in check to make sure you don’t lose yourself in your company.
THINGS CAN GET LONELY. BUT BE CAREFUL WHO YOU SURROUND YOURSELF WITH.
I started my business in Miami. Alone. Across the country from my family. I had just quit a HORRIBLE job that led me to promise myself to never return to a corporate 9-5. It was difficult. The waiting on other people, following up with your manufacturers, etc. – it’s not fun. Hence why I decided to travel the world while production was taking place and then move primarily to LA – Lala land – the most beautiful city in the US. I’m great at starting from zero in new cities at this point thanks to New York, Miami and now LA. It’s crucial to use the internet to network. Find like-minded individuals, reach out, meet for coffee, and just connect to other people who really “get it.” You won’t feel like you’re on this journey alone and can help others as well. A fresh set of eyes is always useful.
YOU NEED TO CONSTANTLY BE LEARNING AND OPEN MINDED
Research, read, watch Youtube videos. There is so much knowledge out there and with the way the world moves so quickly, constantly changing and growing – you can never have enough knowledge. However, make sure you spend your time learning about relevant topics that will help you and your business grow.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR THINGS
For anything. If you want to collaborate with someone and have something to offer in return – reach out and ask. If you want someone’s advice on something – ask. If your client isn’t paying on time – remind them aka ask. You need advice and help to thrive. Also don’t be afraid of the money conversations. You work hard and deserve to live the life you want – ask for the money you earned. It’s not being entitled, it’s you respecting yourself and knowing your self-worth. I understand it is especially hard for women, but just be confident yet respectful and get what you ask for. They will respect you for being up front and not beating around the bush or being timid. I’m super nice, until you don’t pay on time.
INVESTING IN YOUR BUSINESS IS CRUCIAL.
As an entrepreneur, it has always been a priority for me to invest back into my business. Investing in your business allows you to continue growing. I think a lot of people carry the idea that if your business isn’t making much financially, then it’s not worth it to put money into it until it is. This is absolutely backwards. If you want your business to grow, then it’s important to spend a little money on things that will help you elevate your brand. You don’t need to buy a billboard right away, but investing a little more each month, or starting a savings account for big biz purchases is a great idea. Also don’t be afraid to outsource some parts of your business so that you can focus on the important things. Delegate.You cannot do it all. I repeat, YOU CANNOT DO IT ALL. Rome was not built in a day or alone. Great things take time so don’t get discouraged when your business doesn’t take off the way you imagined right away. Be practical, humble and stay working hard consistently towards your goals.
BE AUTHENTIC. BE GENUINE. BE VALUABLE.
Remember why you started and what your purpose for starting the company was and is. One thing I cannot do is be fake which doesn’t always work in my favor but it’s me. I can’t fake laugh at bad jokes, I can’t fake like you, and I can’t fake like ideas. You need to relay your brands message to the world through social media and marketing. Keep the brand story consistent. If you suck at creating content or campaigns – outsource. If you need PR – outsource. SEM – outsource. These are all things that should be on your to do list. I will admit when I am wrong and adjust things after getting feedback from people. I promise that long-term it pays off to just be truly genuine and valuable. It’s so much more meaningful to admit when you’re wrong, be kind and genuine, and try to offer as much value to the world as possible. Be the best you can be.
YOU NEED TO STAY ON TOP OF YOUR FINANCES.
Let’s be real. Nobody actually looks forward to paying taxes – especially #selfmade boss babes aka self-employed professionals and business owners who have multiple streams of income and expenses out the wazoo. However, with TurboTax’s new features – you don’t have to put off the usually dreaded task. TurboTax Self Employed is there to help you get the job done. Get a head start this tax season with their amazing new features including the Expense Finder, SmartLook, and Quickbooks Self-Employed software. Only TurboTax combines human expertise AND the power of technology to give you personalized support for your unique situations. From tracking down old receipts to mapping out previous travel expenses to wranglingW2’s and 1099s and all other details in between, TurboTax has made this process as seamless as possible.
With TurboTax you can be confident that you get your maximum deductions possible which means they basically help you save money on things you didn’t know you could save money on. Here is a quick summary at their new features and how they will help you.
Their EXPENSE FINDER will scan your bank accounts, find and recommend expenses that you can claim, and will ultimately save you time and money. Because you deserve to keep more of the money you earn, duh.
One of my personal favorite features is SMARTLOOK. TurboTax Self-Employed customers get priority access to SmartLook agents who specialize in self-employment taxes. With SMARTLOOK you can screen share with a TurboTax expert who can help guide you through the process answering any and all questions you may have along the way. You get a personalized experience at no additional cost. Me likey.
Lastly, the QUICKBOOKS SELF-EMPLOYED (QBSE) is a major time saver. TurboTax Self-Employed includes a free subscription to QuickBooks Self-Employed through the next tax year for automatic expense and mileage tracking, receipt capture and quarterly tax estimates and filing year-round, and ultimately effortless tax preparation at tax time. Automatically import data from your QuickBooks Self-Employed into next year’s TurboTax for a simple experience.
Thank you TurboTax for making this post possible and of course for helping us get our “taxes done smarter, together.”
It has been humbling, enlightening, exhausting, exhilarating, frustrating, eye-opening, and rewarding to get to where I am today. But above all else, it has been the learning experience of a lifetime to build, execute, and iterate on a product and see results in real-time. And I’ve also learned several volumes worth about myself, those around me, about what it’s like to start your first company, and what it’s like to be a young female entrepreneur. Bring it on, world. Let’s do this.