November 1, 2010

Leaping and Trusting: Thoughts After 365 Days of Running a Business

No one said no. Not even my parents. In fact every single person that I consulted before my partner in crime Emily and I started on the endeavor called Under Solen said something along the lines of, “Good for you. Just be ready to work hard.”

A lot of people that I love and trust are big believers of leaping. Putting a whole hell of a lot of faith in yourself (and in my case, a business partner) and taking those big steps and jumps that scare you. But it’s always easier said than done, which is why, in the end, not everyone does it. It’s intimidating, but freeing, all at the same time.

The support network was key, and in the last year I’ve quickly come to understand that if you have support you can pretty much do anything you want. There are obstacles, yes, but at the end of the day, with people around you that believe in what you’re doing, opting out becomes difficult. You feel required to push forward, and so you do.

I think that’s why I love writing for Elephant so much. By now, we all know the Ele mantra by heart: “kick the print, harness the power of social networks and build an independent media source that’s both dynamic, interesting and powerful.” That might not be verbatim, but if there’s one thing that I’ve learned in the last year of writing for Waylon it’s that leaping is very important.

A good friend wrote an excellent post on Elephant recently:

For some odd reason, this year I might have convinced a handful of people to quit their jobs in this bad economy to jump wildly into freelance.

Why would someone take this ridiculous leap? Why would I even suggest it?

The lines will start to blur. Things you separated in the past such as vacation and work or time off and overtime will become obsolete. Days of the week will mean nothing more then people don’t answer emails and the post office is closed on this random thing called “Sunday.”

Your creative, searching eyes will widen so much that you are able to capture inspiration and motivation from every aspect of your life.

The post got me thinking…

There are a lot of things that I’ve learned over the last 365 since taking the initial leap.

Trust your partner (and if you’re solo, trust yourself)
If you’ve got a partner in crime (or as Allie calls it, your “other”) listen to them, cherish them, trust them and thank them on a daily basis. If you’re on your endeavor solo, find that person in your life that supports you no matter what and can be your sounding board. Ideas always sound better when you can brainstorm a bit.

Let go
Being a control freak, this has been the hardest, but the most important lesson. Some things are important and others are less so. Choose your battles and put your energy to where it’s most needed. The small stuff can wait.

Accept that you will make mistakes
It’s part of the game. Get used to it. And don’t beat yourself up for mistake #265,365. You’re sure to make plenty more.

Just say yes… but learn when to say no
Be open but don’t give away too much. Find balance, and on the days when you think you can’t find it, do your damndest to make sure you do.

Drink ample amounts of coffee, water and wine
Enough said.

Work with people that kill it on a regular basis
As long as you’re inspired you’ll be motivated to do better. That’s my definition of success; being happy with what you do and always improving on it. Surrounding yourself with people that are committed to what they do is one of the best ways to do so.

Find time for daily creativity
Doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, if you don’t give your brain time to think, imagine and be open to possibility, you’ll never move forward.

Find those that are doing a similar thing and commiserate

“I’m totally overwhelmed and stressed out,” has been a common feeling over the last year. There are two responses to this:

“But you’re running your own business, you have nothing to complain about”


“Yeah, I understand.”
The latter comes from those in the know, those that understand that even when you pursue your passions things can get hard, and that you need someone to pat you on the back, tell you you’re doing a good job and then give you a swift kick in the pants to make sure you continue on. At Under Solen, Emily and I have a solid group of amazing 20- to 30-something women that are all in situations of a similar nature. Doing their own thing. Some days running into feelings of self-doubt and other days dancing in front of the bathroom mirror because things feel so good. These people know, and it’s good to keep them around to put things into perspective.


Sometimes I think to myself “holy s*** we run a business.” You’d think that waking up every morning and answering emails, sending out invoices and signing contracts the idea of being in charge wouldn’t be such a novelty. But I still get that inner feeling of butterflies, normally on a weekly basis. It’s why we keep doing what we do, and as long as we keep learning, being inspired and working with people that are working towards the common good, we’ll stick with it.

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