“In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.” – Bill Cosby
Entrepreneur. What a sexy word. It sounds so grown up and kick-ass.
But hidden in that word are a flood of emotions, extreme ups and downs, and the desire to pound on the table screaming “Idonwanna!”
I did corporate. I worked in advertising agencies. Another sexy scene. People think the agency lifestyle is parties, clients, and martinis. Well, it is. But it’s also filled with late nights, weekends, insane management, and poor values.
I worked in two agencies in New York City for three years, and then moved on to a San Diego agency for one year. I lived the life, took advantage of the perks, and became physically ill from the stress. I went to graduate school to change my industry and do work I valued. I thought management consulting was the right fit as I was passionate about developing managers and employees.
Then I woke up. What was I thinking? I wouldn’t be able to really focus on individuals the way I wanted to and I didn’t want to go back to the stressful lifestyle minus the parties and martinis. What fun is that?
From that, I concluded that I needed to do work that aligned with my values and gave me the lifestyle I wanted. So I decided that it was time – time to fulfill my lifetime goal and dream to become an entrepreneur. I was 27. I was scared. But I knew I had to do it.
It took a few months to narrow down the idea, the focus, the name, the tagline, and the website. Once that was done, I concentrated on the content and listened to what my audience wanted. And that’s when you realize what your focus should be – you combine what you want to do with what your audience wants you to do.
I have been building two entrepreneurial efforts for the past nine months: Enter: Adulthood, an online guide to “the real world” and Performance Advantage Inc., a consulting firm dedicated to creating better bosses. I have to make many sacrifices – mostly to my lifestyle. The shopping, expensive dinners, and vacations don’t happen anymore. But that’s okay, because I’m happy. The structure of my life is completely up to me.
I have been fortunate to have many supportive people around me. But I can easily spot the ones who don’t get what I’m doing or think I’m ridiculous. I ignore them and so should you. And if that person who thinks you’re ridiculous is yourself, you have to ignore that part of you and focus on the part that knows this is the right decision.
I have moments when I think about going back to corporate, but those moments don’t last very long. This is what I’m meant to do.
It’s not easy. You have to have a thick skin. You have to self-motivate and stay disciplined. You have to surround yourself with people who will challenge you and support you. You have to learn from your mistakes, but more importantly, other peoples’ mistakes. You can’t let people get to you. You have to keep going. You have to believe in yourself.
You are allowed to have doubts. Every entrepreneur has doubts. Every entrepreneur has moments of extreme sadness or anger. But the ones who succeed don’t let their doubts stick around for every long.
I stay positive, even through my challenging days. If I’m having a bad day, I stop and do something else. I do something that lets my mind wander and relax until I’m ready to jump back in. And when you let your mind relax, that’s when you have the most brilliant ideas.
I’m impatient. Being an entrepreneur has made me patient.
I’m a planner. Being an entrepreneur has allowed me to be carried by the wind, in any direction it wants to take me. I learned that you must plan in order to actually accomplish things, but you can’t operate as though your plan is concrete. Understand and accept that your plan can be molded into many shapes and forms, or that can be thrown out the window and be squashed.
I’m a perfectionist. But I’ve made many mistakes. To my surprise, I’m okay with that, because I learned for next time.
You don’t need to have it all figured out right now. Start and it will come to you. You will see who your competition is and befriend them, you will learn about new products and services to offer, and you will build a relationship with your audience and customers and let them tell you what works and what doesn’t.
Being an entrepreneur isn’t always sexy. It’s up to you to make it sexy and give it all you have. If you don’t start and if you don’t put all your energy in it, it won’t happen. You have the control. Believe it.
Diana Antholis is the founder of Enter: Adulthood, an online guide for young adults that shares advice and tips on career, relationship, and personal life choices to transition into the “real world.” Diana is also the co-founder of the online network of Performance Advantage Inc., an independent learning and development consulting firm that focuses on creating better managers and employees. Diana’s new Conquer Your Career e-Guide is a four-part series of actionable steps that people can take to start, change, or take control of their careers.
In her former corporate life, Diana created and implemented advertising media plans for top clients in the consumer packaged goods, wireless telecommunications, restaurant, and sporting industries in New York City and San Diego, CA. Diana’s M.A. is in Organizational Management from The George Washington University in D.C. and her B.S. is in Advertising and Marketing Communications from the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC.