Six Months & Counting
My journey as a business owner so far has been quite the rollercoaster - in the best way possible. I’ve had all the feels - from excitement and energy to exhaustion and anxiety.
After graduating USC, I started my first full-time job at a commercial real estate company after what had been a part-time internship for 7 months. A startup at the time, I handled the marketing and picked up slack where I saw fit and became fascinated with company organization and structure. I learned a lot from higher-ups and peers in the professional world and coincidently taught myself more than I could have imagined. While I learned plenty in school, I no doubt learned more in my first year of working in the field than in 4 years in the classroom.
After a few years, I started to freelance, completely by accident. I had learned to make websites through my job and someone had asked me to make them one. One thing lead to another and before I knew it, clients were asking if I was able to help them with social media, email marketing, marketing collateral, etc. I always knew I wanted to start my own business and the timing felt right so after a year and some change of thinking and preparing, I decided to give it a go and launch Ray + Arrow.
While I’ve learned (and reinforced) more than I could write in one blog post, I wanted to talk about a few things not only for my own benefit to look back on but in hopes that people might find it helpful.
HAVE A SUPPORT SYSTEM
An absolute must. I wouldn’t be here had it not been for my family, boyfriend, and friends who have supported me through the process. Late nights, early mornings, venting sessions - it’s necessary to have someone who will listen, give advice, and/or makes you laugh off stressors.
My first month of starting Ray + Arrow was filled with so many emotions. I was beyond excited but scared, confident but anxious, energetic but tired. I was on a high of starting a business, bogging myself down with an endless to do list that required me to work from 8am-10pm straight almost every day, not to mention weekends. The rush of starting a business and excitement behind Ray + Arrow kept me up all night so falling asleep was nearly impossible.
It didn’t take long before I hit a wall and got sick. I was sick for weeks because I wasn’t taking care of it. I would make excuses like “I have too much to do right now to sleep”. I was functioning at about 50% instead of 100%.
To avoid this from happening again, I now try to take breaks during the day - whether it’s a walk around the block, taking a yoga class, or lying on my acupressure mat, I try. Could I be trying harder? Of course.
CELEBRATE THE LITTLE THINGS
Owning and running a business is a huge undertaking and it’s something to be celebrated. I found myself landing new clients and finishing projects and not taking a step back to admire what I had done.
My boyfriend, Jack, also runs a business, and he was accomplishing big things as well. We finally both realized that we weren’t properly celebrating these feats. I’m not talking about big nights out with cake though. These celebrations consisted of a night out to dinner with wine and taking it all in.
As Ray + Arrow grows, I want to always instill a culture where celebrations (big and small) are necessary.
NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK
Relationships are key to any business. This is something I've always known but is something that's been reinforced since I started. One thing to remember is to always pay it forward. If someone hooks me up with a potential client or introduces me to someone who can help me in my business, I try my best to pay them back and reciprocate the favor.
I always admired people who just seemed to be able to make connections. I used to call them the ‘connectors’. As I grow and meet more people, I realize that I am part of this ‘connectors’ group to an extent and boy, does it feel good. I find it extremely satisfying when I can help a friend or a client out by referring them to a potential client/customer or a vendor. Connections are powerful and it's amazing to see what projects everyone is working on because of it.
WORK HARD & BE NICE
Okay, so I learned this awhile ago but it couldn’t be more applicable now. I've seen and met countless people who work hard but aren’t the nicest. Whether on purpose or not, I don't get the point of not being conscious about how you treat others. In my mind, there is nothing cooler than someone who works hard at what they do and treats people with the utmost respect, regardless of if they can help their business or not.
One thing that I will say is I'm having trouble finding is a mentor. I have lots of people who I can call for advice but no one I would consider my true mentor. Would love to get some feedback on what your views are on the matter.
I hope my journey thus far is helpful to anyone out there trying to start a business or just advance in their career. I'm learning as I go and I couldn't be more excited to see what the future has in store. Any business owners and professionals who care to share what they’ve learned over the years? Would love to hear it!