It’s hard to believe that I launched TK Consulting and Design 7 years ago at the end of July. At the time, I was 29, married with 2 kids and I just wanted to use my creative skills to make a little extra cash. It didn’t take long for the business to reveal itself as something that could transform my life in ways I hadn’t imagined.
My goal was to generate around $1K extra a month for my family. To my surprise, in my first year of business, I actually generated an additional $20k in additional income, which was close to double my original goal. It was then I realized how easy entrepreneurship was going to be for me.
Boy, was I wrong. Just young and dumb.
So, after 7 years of running a profitable business and completing my first year full-time, I have 7 lessons that I’d like to share:
1. Creativity takes energy.
This is something that creatives understand in depth, but those who don’t have to pull on their creativity frequently may now know how draining it can be to have to continually be creative. Creativity takes a ton of energy. Almost to the point where I’ve found myself taking creativity sprints and once I’m tapped out, I may be down for a week or two.
What I’ve learned about entrepreneurship is that I have to move with inspiration, which requires built-in breaks to support creative tasks. When things are flowing, I try my best to be productive and work ahead. I’ve also learned that I’m most creative in nurturing environments, so I protect my company culture with everything I have.
2. Boundaries are absolutely necessary.
There are so many ways that you can (and should) create boundaries as an entrepreneur. The biggest thing I had to learn is that I need to be okay with creating a flow that works well for me, without judging myself or letting anyone else dictate what works for me.
What has been working for me is an 8 am – 2 pm workday on Mondays through Thursdays. Mondays are my most productive days, so that is where I set goals for the week. Also restrict meetings to 30 minutes to 1 hour and I do NOT take meetings on Fridays because they’re draining. Most times people meet to meet and I’d rather work on a deliverable.
Lastly, I don’t communicate on the weekends and I’m learning moving away from texting for professional communication. These are all things that I’ve learned to help protect my peace and manage my work/life balance.
3. Building is hard.
It’s easier to critique than create because building is hard. Creating ANYTHING from scratch is an absolutely impressive feat because you need both creativity, understanding, and tenacity. Many times, people can be critical or have unrealistic expectations because they don’t actually know what it takes to get a thing done. And that’s okay.
I’ve wanted to quit so much in this last year because I thought things would get easier, as I’ve developed my business but you know what – they haven’t. “More money. More problems.”
The more I’ve made attempts to make things easier, the harder they’ve become because efficiency breeds growth and growth brings new challenges. Entrepreneurship is hard. The hope is that it will provide access to a life I want to life, which it is, but as it evolves, new challenges will arise.
4. Entrepreneurship takes endurance.
My least favorite word in 2023 is endurance. I hate it. Good things take time and greatness takes fortitude. No matter what level of business you’re comfortable with, it takes endurance to maintain it over time. Depending on the season, that endurance may look like consistency, adjusting to change, or managing hardships, but either way its endurance that makes you keep moving forward.
5. Leadership is a skill that requires development.
I never wanted to be a leader. Never. I like the sidelines and I like being a part of a team, but I am aware that I have learned to lead from behind. There’s no stakes when you lead from behind. There’s no risk. So, that’s where I was most comfortable at.
I remember the moment I finally accepted that I was a leader and I still pushed back. I didn’t put much effort into learning how to grow as a leader, which is like 80% denial and maybe like 20% defiance, but I believe learning and critique is a necessary part of the process. Good leaders keep open communication to understand their weaknesses because there ARE MANY weaknesses and we need to continuously evolve.
I’m a leader, so I have to learn to lead.
6. You will fail.
This is pretty simple, but I learned to deal with failure. I don’t love it. It’ still sucks but I’ve learned that I will fail, but failure is not the end. It’s apart of the process.
7. “Don’t give up you’re so close.”
A friend of mine said this to me today and it resonated, “Don’t give up. Your’e so close.”
We don’t know where we are on the path. With entrepreneurship, we set goals and when we achieve them, we set new goals. We also fail a lot, so it can sometimes feel like we aren’t really moving forward, which breeds doubt.
So, innately, you keep going, as you can. You keep pushing, as you can. You rest, you pivot, but you learn that each step is progress towards success.
Then this is where faith comes in.
Good things take time.
Do you have some lessons that you’ve learned from entrepreneurship? Drop them in the comments below.