I've known for a long time I wanted to be an entrepreneur.
When I was nine years old, my grandmother made a complaint about all the Christmas gifts that needed to be wrapped. My ears perked up and in minutes, I sat at the computer adding an elf graphic and my name to mock business cards. I called myself Little Elf Wrapping Company. I handed out my cards to my family members and for fees based on box size, I would take care of all your wrapping needs, provided that you supplied the wrapping paper. For $0.25-$3.00 I would wrap any gift, saving you time and energy. I think I made about $15. The taste of money was sweet and over the years I sold everything from homemade bracelets at garage sales, to lemonade on the corner, to pomegranates from our front yard.
As an adult, the idea of running my own business was still appealing, but the reality of start-up costs (because wrapping paper isn't actually free), loans, investors and liability kept me away from the entrepreneurial arena. Reality has a way of shepherding in fear and as we grow up and the freedom of youth goes into hiding.
Every time my ideas were considered "too big" or "impossible", I would silently file it away. I knew that one day, the right idea would come along, and I would be ready to run the show. I work my ass off to be great at a job I love, but part of me longs to be working for myself- pursuing things I am passionate about, pursuing things that excite me and pushing the limits.
But being someone else's employee is safe. The likelihood of failure somehow seems smaller. The pressure builds when it's your ideas and your plans shaping your future success. When you have no upper management to fallback on and all successes and challenges fall on your shoulders, my faith seems to dwindle and I let my head take the reins from my gut.
I am starting a business. It's a business that I think about day and night. It's an industry that I love. It's an idea that I believe in. But, it's also the scariest thing I have ever done. And no, I'm not ready to give specifics just yet.
Even though my business partner and I are only in the early stages, I've had to learn so much. The most challenging lesson has been that I can't know it all. I've read as many books as I can get my hands on about successful business models and start-ups, but I have hardly scratched the surface. Business has never been my strong point and now I am wishing I hadn't been so good at putting off going back to school for my MBA.
With every day, both my fear and my determination grow.
I think the only way to continue to develop is to challenge yourself and by far, starting my own business has been the most mentally challenging thing I have ever done.
In life, I have always been a person of passion. I have followed my heart and always taken the outlook of "leap, and the net will appear". I've found it easy to go with my gut feeling when making big decisions. Some people call that courage- I call it faith. I've always known I can come out on top, or at the very least, figure out which way is up.
That, however, is not the case when it comes to business decisions. In business, I get timid. In business. I fear failure. In business, unknown outcomes make me cautious. In business, it takes me time to find my feet, analyze a situation and take cautious steps forward.
I think my biggest challenge in the coming months will be learning to balance. Not just balancing my life, a full time job, a start-up company, lofty health goals and family commitments, but also learning how to balance following my heart, head and gut equally. If years of dance has taught me anything, it's that the best way to achieve balance is with focus, a strong core, trust in yourself and practice. Chances are your will fall at some point, but without the falls you can't learn how to rise.