I love waking up and getting to do what I love – telling the stories of female entrepreneurs. Launching a startup isn’t easy. The true learning comes in the execution. Here are 11 Things No One Told Me About Being An Entrepreneur:
1. People say no to the opportunity, not YOU.
When you hear NO and you’re working for someone else’s company, it’s a lot easier to swallow than when you hear NO to your company, your baby, your passion. What would have been a shoulder shrug in the former scenario turns out to be more of a sting in the latter. You get a few NOs in a row and you start to feel beaten down by lunchtime. Wasting time brooding over NOs leaves you less time to get to your YES. You have to learn how to feel the sting and move on.
2. Your life will change.
As a startup founder I am constantly learning. There are areas where I am naturally skilled and areas that require me to grow and as I evolve I notice the change spilling over into my personal life. I am more intentional about how I spend my free time, more careful about the type of leadership guidance and messages I give my son and feel less of a need to explain myself to others.
3. Never disregard any introduction.
You never know where an introduction will lead. Always be on your networking game. I have had casual introductions lead to solid business partnerships and friendly pleasantries turn into future clients. I was invited to a light lunch about the current business climate of my community a few years ago. Over sandwiches and chit chat I ended up finding a sponsor for one of my future workshops. And to think I went in wondering if they would have roast beef and coffee!
4. Be just as kind and respectful to the janitor as the CEO.
No one is better than anyone else. We all have strengths, weaknesses and bring something to the table. Having a large network can be your greatest asset. A good friend of mine is a cab driver. He does not wear a suit to work or stroll into a fancy office, but he puts in long hours of honest work daily, often in less than ideal circumstances. Though we can go stretches at a time without catching up, we’ve always maintained a great relationship. When I was bringing a speaker in from New York City in 2013, I was swamped with event plans and my budget was stretched to the hilt. He swooped in like a savior and offered to pick up and drop off my speaker. He saved me travel costs and time.
5. Success is not the result of one person.
The person who is experiencing the success often gets all of the shine. When I first started The Lioness Group, I kept thinking of all the things I needed to do: marketing, finding clients, trade shows and more. What I came to discover was that in order for my business to become successful, I needed the help of others. I needed people who believed in me to give me emotional, word of mouth and, sometimes, financial support. I needed friends to help me at events because I could not afford staff. I needed my brothers to help tug heavy boxes of display equipment. We never do it alone. Success is not a one-woman show.
6. All that motivational crap really does work.
Whenever I would run into one of my pals who were in a tizzy over a Tony Robbins or Iyanla Vanzant speech, my eyes would roll. I am a person of faith and I just didn’t want to hear about any corny, hokey seminar, get up and wave your hands stuff. How wrong was I? SO WRONG.
I get nervous about public speaking and last fall I started listening to meditations on public speaking, which led me to other meditations and prayers. Before I knew it I was using them in the morning to set the right tone of my day, in the evening to wind down and on the weekends to center myself. It didn’t impede my spirituality. It enhanced it. Now whenever I need a spurt of positivity or a moment to realign myself after a trying day, I am only a podcast or YouTube video away.
7. Relationships will change.
I really hadn’t anticipated this one. New people are constantly coming into my life, and I never realized that there may be some people walking out and that it was OK. We have been trained to believe that the words “you’ve changed” are bad. The truth is that sometimes people can change for the better or for new directions in life, and moving on or shifting relationship dynamics does not mean you are a bad person. We all must set our own priorities. Don’t let greedy people dictate theirs and yours, too.
About Natasha Clark
Around age eight Natasha Clark was told it was a woman’s job to take care of the home and since then she has built a career out of telling women they can do whatever the hell they want. Founder of Lioness, the leading digital magazine for female entrepreneurs, the former news reporter has created a platform to educate, elevate and support female entrepreneurs. In addition to publishing and hosting events for women, Natasha enjoys spending time with her teenage son, Shaun.
8. You will have to choose your sacrifices.
No one ever flat out told me that I better decide what I am willing to give up permanently and temporarily. There are only 24 hours in a day which means some items must go up on the chopping block. Some sacrifices come naturally, others require work. At any given point on my journey I have sacrificed vacations, shopping, dating and sleep. Everyone’s sacrifices are unique. Decide what you can and cannot make time for and for how long.
9. Sometimes failure is just what you need.
I can count on both hands the number of times I have had my ass handed to me. I’m talking straight up with no chaser. Whenever I get scared, I recount some of those moments of humiliation to remind that I survived them and that this too shall pass. Nothing puts a fire under my ass like being embarrassed or someone telling me what I want to do is impossible. If everywhere we turned we heard the word “yes,” can you imagine what a mediocre job we would all be doing? When we are faced with challenges, we can either attack them or retreat. I find my greatest rewards in barreling at them head on.
10. There’s a difference between being honest and being cutthroat.
The idea of being painfully blunt turns me off. I used to think being candid meant being “not nice.” I know now that I can be honest in a way that allows everyone to feel respected. It’s all about delivery. I’m taking it back to elementary school here, but “treat others how you would like to be treated” still works in adulthood. Who knew?
11. Entrepreneurism is not one size fits all.
Just because you idolize Person A and they took Road C to rise to fame and fortune, it doesn’t mean their way is going to work for you. Explore different methods. Ask questions. See what avenues exist. Don’t trust anyone who tries to sell you a fool-proof method or says there is only one right way. Think of it this way: Five women can all buy the same shoe, but each may have a different shoe size. -Natasha Clark
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