It was a sunny day when I sat at Pei Wei finishing up my lunch and opening the fortune cookie accompanying my Dan Dan chicken rice bowl.
“Don’t be afraid to take that next big step,” it read.
I would like to say the combination of an exceptionally high sodium meal and an inspiring fortune was the catalyst for taking such a leap of faith. But it wasn’t. It was the grouping of experience, true passion, drive, support and even more drive that made me take that one giant leap for mankind. Well, a giant leap for the young twenty-something entrepreneurial kind.
So I did it. I started my own agency specializing in digital marketing.
As a twenty-something, tinkering with the idea of leaving the support of the parent company and going on your own, let me encourage you to do so. With caution of course. In my premature entrepreneurial life, I have come to the realization that you need the following five elements in order to hit the ground running.
When I say support, I mean it in two ways. Support as in encouragement. This includes the “Ra Ra cheerleading” from the ones closest to you. You are going to have some good days, great days, terrible days and downright anxiety ridden days. Keep a friend on speed dial.
The second kind of support is the money you saved up in the bank. One minute you might be making a ton of money and the next, you are downright poor.
Since I started, I have cut down on any additional costs outside of my basic needs. While this is extremely difficult, I will be glad I did it during those tough times.
You don’t have a boss. After the initial honeymoon of “wow I’m my own boss, I can do what I want” comes…”Oh shit, I’m my own boss, I have to run a company.” No one is micromanaging you. Great! But no one is giving you a guaranteed check either.
One of the sole attributes to business success (and I know I’m going out on a whim here because I am so new to this) is drive. You have to want to get out of bed and work harder than you ever have before. And that paycheck might not follow until months later.
3. Willingness to Learn/Passion
As a one-woman show I have to do everything, from the business to sales and account management. This continues to be a steep learning curve, but I love every minute.
In order for success, always be willing to learn. In fact, I would suggest reading at least two articles in your industry every day to stay current and fresh. I just discovered the app Zite, which compiles articles based on industry and preference. I highly recommend checking it out.
Say goodbye to nights on the couch. It’s time to get your name out there and there is no better way than networking. Figure out which networking groups best fit your target market and start exchanging business cards.
Note: Always follow up. That night or next morning send your new acquaintances an email and connect on LinkedIn. Invite them to other networking events with you. The goal is to continue the relationship and find ways to help each other.
5. Positive Attitude
As I experience the early stages of entrepreneurship, I’m still enjoying the excitement with a dash of shock. But I know it’s important to stay positive. If entrepreneurship were that easy, everyone would do it.
Now of course after my Pei Wei meal I decided to grab another fortune cookie for a mid afternoon snack. I still keep that fortune in my wallet and read for inspiration:
“The Best Times of Your Life Have Not Yet Been Lived.”
With that, I know it’s going to be an exciting ride.