I recently received an email from a graduating college student who asked that I share my experiences to his class. For the benefit of all of my readers, here it is:
A year and 7 months ago I decided to launch Noellery. Zero debt funding and 100% my savings, so if you wonder why I am so heavily in the weeds that is the primary reason. When your livelihood is on the line and everything falls on you, it is incredibly hard to not care and be pulled away. Every penny and minute counts. Some people threw darts at my ideas, others underestimated my abilities, while others just scoffed at the crazy thought of it.
I moved forward with my ideas anyway.
When I initially launched, I clearly remember being nervous during the build out stage because I wasn’t sure how consumers would react to my brand. Will they think the name is corny? Will they even like my stuff? Will they like my designs? What if the ceiling leaks? What if my insurance policy doesn’t cover any damage that may arise if something happens? All sorts of concerns were replaying in my head. Whenever self-doubt crept in however, I was encouraged by an amazing support system that had faith in my abilities. I guess you can call them my cheerleaders.
These people really are my angels, and I will never forget them.
There really is something special about those that believe in you during times you did not. Seriously.
My first year running Noellery was the most challenging because I was dealing with the unknown- problems that typically arise in a company’s first year. I got very little sleep, skipped meals, worked through every evening and holiday, and basically allowed my nights to blend into days in an effort to solidify my company’s infrastructure. I knew that I could not grow at my targeted pace if I didn’t develop a rock solid foundation from the beginning. So basically, I sacrificed my sanity to grow things on my own merit.
Were those sacrifices worth it? Yes.
To date, we continue to operate on zero debt and growth continues to be steady. I am proud to say that we are running lean and healthy with a positive cash flow.
Not every decision that I’ve made since the company’s inception has been right. I made mistakes. Dealt with changes beyond my control the best I could. When things didn't go my way, I swerved. And I, being the most critical critic of my own work, beat myself up when something wasn’t perfect. Most importantly however, I learned from those same experiences.
If I have learned anything from entrepreneurship, it’s that it is really hard. You really need to have thick skin and a strict work ethic to make it work. I have a newfound respect for all business owners both small and large doing their thing. It truly takes a lot of courage to do what you do. Your willingness to take on such risk is to be respected and admired. I myself am no one special-- just a curious woman that's finding happiness in pursuing childhood passions in life wholeheartedly.
To summarize the lessons that I’ve learned:
- Confidence is your best accessory. Have faith in yourself, and what you are capable of achieving. There is nothing scarier than a woman that is confident in ones' abilities. Do not be afraid to command what you want, when you want, and at which terms you want them in.
- Sometimes your intuition will be the most powerful tool you will have. Listen to your gut and intuition at all times.
- Never piggy back on someone else’s talent for your own gain. It’s selfish, and it’s outright wrong.
- It’s not worth nickel or diming talent that can help you meet your objectives more efficiently. If you want to make money, you need to be willing to spend money and not think twice about it. Do not be cheap with engaging in talent. If you pay for cheap labor, you will get cheap results.
- Celebrate your successes- even if they are little ones. It’s so important to take a step back and pat yourself on the back for what you built. I know I didn't do that, and instead burnt myself out. If you reach a goal, go treat yourself. You really deserve it.
- People will abandon you when you are too obsessed with your vision. It’s ok, those that matter will understand and will support you through the very end.
- Maintain a positive outlook on life at all times, and try to see the good in everyone at all times. Laugh a lot, it keeps your soul young. I generally have a pretty sunny and positive view of the world. This trait in particular has allowed me to plow through some of the obstacles that retailers may face faster than one would.
- Take time to reflect on what you’ve learned, and reward those that helped you get to where you are. Again, don't be cheap. I've always been one to believe in compounding generosity, so give if and when you can to those that helped shape you into the person that you are today.