A Start-Up CEO on Her Three Hardest LessonsMarch 2, 2018
Two years ago, I dreamed of building a business to help women become entrepreneurs. I knew the journey was difficult from being in the startup community and watching many friends and family members start businesses of their own. But my journey as a founder and CEO of a growing company, Alice’s Table, has given me a new appreciation for everyone simply brave enough to build a company.
Deciding to start a company is truly the easiest part! It feels frightening and uncertain, but what you learn after a few years out on your own is that these feelings never go away. The good news is neither does the passion for what you are doing and the feeling of fulfillment that fills your mind every morning. You learn to function at your highest level while living in a state of constant worry.
If you are thinking about taking the plunge into your own venture - here are the three hardest parts that you should be prepared for!
You are constantly pushed to your limit.
As the leader of a business you are constantly pushed to the limits of your abilities. Dipping your toe into a new venture does not work. You have to go headfirst and give it your all to know if it will succeed. Who is your dream client? Go after them… now! If you go slowly in the beginning, you will never speed up.
After a few years of throwing myself 110% into my business, I can say that there is nothing quite like building something from an idea into a growing, revenue generating company. I will never forget the first few months of my business and look back on them so fondly. I think I aged five years in six months, but it was worth it. The good news is, if you move quickly you will succeed or fail faster. No need to waste time.
The target keeps moving!
When I first started, my biggest worries were building a website that worked and selling two events per month. Those were big challenges and I worked every day to achieve them. Now, two years later, we have hundreds of events on the calendar at a time and are managing new levels of customer service volume.
The thought crosses your mind all the time … if we could only get to X we would be doing great! The funny thing is, you learn that once you reach X, the next obstacle has already appeared in front of you. When you are growing a company the target is always moving and maybe in ways that you never expected.
And remember its just as important to stop and celebrate reaching a goal with a champagne toast, as it is to move on to the next target.
You must get comfortable with the uncomfortable.
Make friends with the pit in your stomach. I have gotten very familiar with that feeling and what I have found is that it is the essence of success. True leaders are the people who let “no” be the fuel to power their yes. True leaders have doubt to keep them humble but perseverance that guide them to their goal. It is having the resilience and determination to stand on your feet after being knocked down.
Always remember that roadblocks and hiccups are critical to building a business. I don't believe in looking back and saying I would change something. The absence of mistakes is not success because you are not improving. I believe success or hitting that target is a series or two steps forward, one step backwards. Being wrong, doesn’t mean you’re bad at what you do, it simply means you learned something.
That being said, in order to make friends with the pit in your stomach, you need a community of support! There is no right answer to what this community should be. Maybe it’s a women’s entrepreneurship group or simply just your BFF’s, but find that community and cherish it!