Fun fact: I never set out to actually become an entrepreneur.
When I was younger and people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said an “author.” I enjoyed writing poetry and fictional stories. It allowed me to escape my world and temporarily become this character I could make up in my head. It was therapeutic and fun for me.
Later in middle school, I found athletics, specifically cross country and track. I happened to be pretty good at running, and it too served as an escape for me. It also gave me confidence as an adolescence which spilled over into many aspects of my life.
Fast forward to post-college and being jobless in 2008.
Now with an acquired BS in Public Health and experience as the captain of my collegiate cross country and track teams, I discovered coaching and instantly fell in love with it.
I decided to make a career out of something I loved and started working at Equinox. My one goal was to help as many people as I could become the absolute best version of themselves. Corny as heck, but very true. I wanted to empower people.
I worked at the Equinox for about four years. I was successful and had a lot of clients. But I felt overworked and underpaid. People say when you are the smartest person in the room, it’s time to leave. This idea drove me to leave Equinox and start my own personal training company in 2012.
I was ready for a challenge. I needed a change.
Looking back, I did a lot of things wrong. I believe I left Equinox without thinking things completely through. I had no idea what I was getting myself into by starting my own company and what that actually meant. I assumed I would get clients easily, just like I had at Equinox. It had always been, well, easy for me.
This are very different from working in a successful gym to working as an independent personal trainer in NYC. Working in a gym, a client walks in < sees me training < BOOM < client wants to work with me. I didn't have the same free face time with potential clients anymore, therefore I had no idea how I would bring in new clients. I had no idea how to brand and market myself. I had no idea how to manage my time appropriately. I had no idea how to prioritize and stay organized. I had no idea what I would do for health insurance.
I’m the type of person who is all or nothing. I know this about myself now. When I commit, I’m in it 1000%. This is true through all aspects of my life.
I can also still be the type of person who jumps into things prematurely without thinking it completely through. As a result, I have failed at things due to my lack of planning.
But I have learned. And I have gotten better.
Sure, when I left Equinox I had set goals and had things I wanted to accomplish in my first year of being an entrepreneur. Let’s just say these plans didn’t go quite according to plan. Which brings me to my first lesson for being an entrepreneur:
1. Understand that things won’t go according to plan
Shit is going to hit the fan especially in your first year of being an entrepreneur.
The first year should be focused on learning as much as you can from the mistakes you make and the unexpected surprises that come up. You need to be ready to change gears at the drop of a hat and not get attached to certain outcomes you have. That timeline you have in the first year of starting a new company? Great to have it as a reference and for setting goals, but try not to get so fixated on it and start beating yourself up when things don’t go according to that original plan.
This is a new experience for you and things you didn’t expect to come up will come up and they will need to be pushed to the very top of your priority list. My advice? Learn how to adapt.
2. Be open to having a business partner
If you think that people at the top have done it alone, you are wrong. Correction, ALL successful people have had partners.
Maybe they are behind the scenes or maybe they are angel investors. Rest assured that most successful people don't do it alone. If you have the idea in your head you are going to make this work as a strict solo act, do yourself a favor and drop the ego. It’s OK to accept help from others. If I could go back in time to the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey, I would have hired my fabulous Marketing Manager Rachel Salvato PLUS I would have hired a business mentor/coach to help me stay organized and accountable.
3. Learn from other people’s mistakes
What If I told you, you don’t need to make every single mistake in order to learn from it? It’s so important to speak to people in your field who have already been through it and to ask them what has worked for them and what has not. Not only will you save yourself a lot of time, but also emotional heartache and money!
I would recommend finding someone in your field who you look up to, respect and would like to emulate on some level. Then ask them for their time, over a coffee or whatever. Even if you need to pay for it, learning from other successful people’s mistakes, and hearing their successes, has the potential of saving you a lot of time and energy in your own business.
As an entrepreneur, there are no days off and the work doesn’t ever really stop. So it’s important for you to find the balance between work and home life. I wish I had these tips when I started my own company because I would have saved myself a lot of time and stress.
Being open to learning and constantly growing is a part of being an entrepreneur. You have to be able to adapt and deal with rejection and failure in a way that won’t paralyze you or get you down (for too long).
This can be a challenge in itself and may require practice. But practice is what you are constantly doing as an entrepreneur.
Practicing, failing, and evolving as an individual and in your business. Ask for help when you need and check your ego if things don’t go according to plan. Learning how to roll with the punches is all apart of the process and will ultimately aid in your long term success.