Another end to another great year. We faced some growing pains this year, and learned a lot of lessons. We’re coming out of 2013 with a lot more wisdom, a little more humility, and excitement for what 2014 will bring to us. I asked each of the partners to write a retrospective about their year for our blog. There were no rules, just write what how you felt about 2013. This one is mine. – Carly
My retrospective is dedicated to all of the ladies out there. This year was an eye-opener for me, in more ways than one. So here are the top six (surprising) things I learned about being a ladypreneur and running a small business this year.
1. Other women entrepreneurs are there to help you and support you. Female entrepreneurs really became my support system this year. My aunt provided coaching in times of doubt, I received words of wisdom and advice from veteran entrepreneurs, and I had good friends to vent to and ask questions about taxes and expense reporting. That they were quick to talk and explain things was surprising to someone like me, who never really had a lot of female friends growing up. I am introverted which makes it easy for me to go long stretches of time without reaching out. This year I found out that I was really going to have to make an effort and ask for help and guidance from others. It was rewarding and helpful.
2. You will be spoken to (and treated) differently than your male counterparts. Here are things that were said to me this year in a professional setting: “You should probably not tell them that you and Chris are engaged.” “You should let Chris handle this.” “You are an inexperienced business owner.” “Why are you so moody?” “Now don’t get upset.” (I’m not.) The last one is my favorite because it’s usually said before constructive criticism, but there’s a misconception that my tear ducts won’t be able to handle it. I don’t need to get into an essay on gender politics in business, but it’s important to understand that you will be treated differently. Be prepared to handle it with grace.
3. Honesty and integrity always win over money and the bottom line. 2930 Creative was a company built on integrity. We believe in doing our best and providing the best level of service for our clients. Throughout 2013 we were reminded that honesty is the best policy, and it will almost always work in your favor. Align yourself with good business partners and clients who practice the same worth ethic and best practices you believe in. As a small business owner, your integrity is your most valuable asset. Do not sell it to the highest bidder. The right work will find you.
4. You are your biggest critic. I had some hurtful things said to me this year and unfortunately, I started to believe these things were true. What was I doing? What did I know? How could I keep this up? Well guess what? I was doing something I had dreamed about doing my whole life. What did I know? I know a lot about digital marketing, design, writing, and, shockingly, about running a business. How could I keep this up? By not believing the BS. By giving myself a break. Everyday I remind myself of a very simple truth: What small business owners do is not easy, and no, not everyone can do it. What we do is awesome. Pat yourself on the back.
5. Delegate. I started 2930 Creative in a tiny basement apartment. It was not easy. I was by myself a lot and taking on the work alone at the beginning. So when Chris came on full time followed by Josh a year later, it was very hard to give up control and let someone else help. This was my baby. Learning that I couldn’t do everything was a hard wake up call for me. Holding on to things will cause you to burn out (and I know this because I did burn out in October).
6. The laundry can get done today OR dinner can get cooked. Pick and be ok with it. I’m looking around our apartment right now and there are about 3 loads of laundry waiting to get done. I only just managed to remember to get the chicken in the crockpot. I’m very lucky to have a partner who understands that sometimes something just has to give. Usually that means the house work. It can be hard to find that balance, so be ok if you don’t find it. The laundry can always wait. Don’t have clean underwear? Run to Target.
I support women in small business, and I hope that someone can read this and find a little comfort. No one ever said starting a business is easy (and if they did, I would like their name and number to find out what they are doing). It can be lonely. It can be rough when you try to balance work and life. You might even feel like you are losing your friends, because the business becomes a priority over going out and having fun some nights. But I promise you, we all feel this way. You are not alone.
If you are a ladypreneur and need some words of encouragement, let me know! We’ll do a call or if you’re in the Dallas area, we can do coffee. We’ve got to stick together.
Here’s to a very happy, successful, and healthy 2014!