One of our passions is shining a spotlight on the many inspiring entrepreneurs we come across in our Melan-In Business profiles. But of course, it’s not all gloss and celebration. Business success does not come over night. Our founder/editor, Joy Joses, took the plunge and became an entrepreneur when she decided to become an independent publisher.
In this article, she reflects on her journey so far and shares her musings on what she has leant in 2017.
The last couple of years have been an emotional rollercoaster! I wouldn’t ordinarily describe myself as dramatic, (although my husband, would!), but rather a practical and pragmatic person. As boring as it sounds, I would rarely take a professional step unless I could predict where it would lead.
As a teenager, I wrote a list of what I wanted to have achieved by the time I was 30. There was nothing particularly outlandish on the list: earning a certain amount, married, being a mother (okay, that last one didn’t kick in until 31), but overall, I can say that I’ve been blessed. This could probably explain why the recent upheaval, insecurity and change has taken such a toll. I almost feel like I have morphed into almost a completely different person, a lot less secure and trusting.
What’s caused the change? I joined the self-employed wagon and become an independent publisher! After nearly 20 years in the communications industry, I dared to stick two fingers up at a financially secure and comfortable existence and follow a long-held ambition to create a magazine for women of colour. I mean, how hard could it be to develop and launch a publication that caters to a demographic that has been until very recently, largely invisible in the mainstream? I thoroughly recommend it!
On the whole, it’s been a fun, rewarding experience. Developing branding, style guides, creating engaging, thought-provoking content, told from ‘our’ point of view, all of these played to my strengths, what I like to call ‘the sexy side of publishing’. The nitty, gritty aspect, sales, advertising and generally making the magazine a financial success as a business, not so great! It turns out that passion alone doth not a successful media empire make. If it did, Oprah would have some serious company.
But it’s okay, I’m in a good place now and realise that like most things, it’s all about the journey. The new year is great for turning people into reflective mode and so I’ve decided to share the most poignant lessons I’ve learned over the last 12 months as a new entrepreneur.
Six lessons I have learned:
Not ticking off everything on your New Year list is not a mark of failure
Fact is, you are probably much further along than you were at the start of the year. We need to ease up on ourselves a lot more. It’s that thing where you do a great job 99% of the time, but that one time you messed up, is the memory that remains. There is great strength in being able to stop and change your path, if the direction you are on no longer serves.
That negative little devil on your shoulder is never going to go away
I don’t know if it’s just me, but as fabulous as I feel and assured as I am of my skills most of the time, there are days when the cloud of insecurity comes out to play. That ‘Imposter Syndrome’ feeling is real. To be fair, it is rare, and never stays too long, but it’s important to find coping mechanisms to overcome it, because the truth is, you really are that fabulous.
Your life may have changed, but to everyone else? It’s business as usual
You might be thinking that your friends and family should be more supportive, and you are struggling under the weight of your new life as an entrepreneur, but it’s important to realise that, for everyone else, life goes on as usual. Everybody is wrapped up in their own existence and so why should they drop everything to pander to you? It’s time to get your head out of your nether regions!
Don’t like saying no? It’s time to grow a backbone
My instinct is to always say yes to an appeal for help. Of course, it depends on what it is and who is asking, but you need to toughen up to requests that take advantage of your good nature. You need to question how good a friend that person is who is requesting you to offer up your service/skill for free, every single time. At some point, you ought to recognise that you need to own your value and others will too.
Recognise when you are running on empty
You are likely juggling lots of different hats as a new entrepreneur and so are already stretched very thinly. With money probably in short supply, coupled with your pride at proving that you are a success, it’s easy to burn the candle at both ends and before you know it, you are a nervous, anxious wreck. Self-care is vital. Don’t forget to build in rest times away from the business.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, there’s always tomorrow
Who else feels like they are racing some imaginary clock and there is a deadline to winning at your business? While this adrenaline could be a good thing in terms of getting your business up and running, it’s unlikely that you can sustain this urgency. Your business plan should include realistic targets for when you will achieve your goals. Dial the notch down a little and remember the phrase, “It’s all in the journey, not the destination.”