In the last year since I’ve joined a savvy group of women to start our own engagement agency, there aren’t enough blog posts to read or conversations to have with fellow entrepreneurs that can prepare you for the journey you are about to embark upon.
Sure, you can read all the articles on Forbes and Entrepreneur you want, but it doesn’t quite make sense until you are in the thick of things with growing and maintaining the business – and your sanity – to prepare you for this wild rollercoaster of a ride.
What I’ve learned? Oh, so much along the way that it feels cliché to even say that, but I have a few tidbits of advice to share with you for how to make it through your first year (or years) in whatever entrepreneurial business you choose to pursue now or at some time in the near future. Because at the end of the damn day, it’s worth every heart palpitation, laugh out loud moment with your partners, skipped happy hour and rescheduled dentist appointment.
You will have a closet full of hats to wear. That my friends, is the understatement of the year. It’s a great phrase we marketing people love to throw around almost as much as low-hanging fruit. Yes – I’m good at what I do for a living. But you know what I’m not good at? Putting together a table from World Market, painting walls (even with the help of tape) and figuring out Quickbooks without the help of one very intelligent accountant.
Mistakes happen. Every day our team is faced with new challenges that aren’t just client or account-related in the least. You will make mistakes in these new challenges. Breathe. It’s OK. Shit happens. The key here is to not keep making the same mistakes over and over and over. Learn from your errors and if at all possible, don’t repeat.
Namaste it out. Until a very smart and witty friend of mine (ahem Shibani) dragged me to my first ever hot yoga class four years ago, I wouldn’t have been introduced to my favorite Saturday morning ritual. Mindfulness. Find it, hold onto it and practice it daily. Yoga and mediation will absolutely change your life and help you handle the toughest situations in ways that you can’t even imagine.
“I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is not a way to live. Buy yourself some 800 thread count sheets, make your bed your own version of a Westin Hotel’s dream bed and don’t skip your zzzzs. Arianna Huffington has it down pat. Sleep means optimal performance. Athletes know this and so do I after trying to pull off countless workouts on 5-6 hours of sleep. How much sleep do I need? I need 7.5 – 8 hours. How many do you need? Find out and maintain that as many nights as you can.
Your friends won’t always understand the schedule. But the ones who matter will understand and support you when you skip brunches or go home early on a Friday night because you need three hours Saturday morning to rock out some work at your favorite coffee shop. They will support your changing priorities and eagerly wait for the next big client win so they can celebrate alongside you with a dirty martini in hand.
Get up early (and get your workouts in). A wise friend of mine once said that his key to making life work was getting up early – as in 4 a.m. early. While I’m not exactly on that train just yet, I have adjusted my rise and grind time to 6 a.m. and knock out my workouts in the morning. Last year you couldn’t have paid me to wake up at 6 a.m. but in 2015, you can find me at Harness Cycle Wednesdays and Friday mornings for a serious spin class at 6:30 a.m. to give me the natural high I crave to get through my day.
Get your groove on Sundays. This day can set the tone for your entire week. If you spend two hours reviewing your calendar and adjusting your never-ending post-it notes of to do’s, I guarantee your week will feel smaller and more achievable, especially when all you see is blue calendar invites with only slivers of available space on any given day. Make a cup of tea in your favorite mug, turn on the “Deep Focus” Spotify playlist and get to work!
Take a breather when you can. You will be granted days of relaxation. Really – you will. While they may not come weekly, you will be able to take a break and you must (I’m not kidding here) own the hell out of it. Relish in a lazy Saturday afternoon, shopping with friends for clothes you don’t need or spend an afternoon parked on the beach with your fashion magazines and beach-only reads. You totally deserve it and don’t for a second feel guilty. You work too hard.
Welcome to the wild world of entrepreneurship. Enjoy the ride!