Last September I sat down at my computer, I stared at a screen with so many tabs open in my browser that they became indistinguishable. I felt like I had reached the end of the internet, the end of my rope, I was standing at the edge. There was no more infinite scroll, no refresh, no more next page to click.
It was time, and I knew it.
As I closed the countless tabs full of blog posts, how-tos, advice columns, Google searches, and other social media platforms, I realized that it was time to stop staring at other people’s words and publish my own. As a pre-preneur I knew three things for certain:
- If I heard one more person tell me that all I had to do was “solve a problem in an industry”, I was going to scream.
- I was so scared I could feel my heartbeat in my eyelashes.
- I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I was “going to make a thing”.
So with the push from a friend (thanks, Karen), I started building a thing. The truth is, I spent the first couple of months solving problems I had never faced before. I knew just as much as you might know right now. Yes, I had built website before—but those sites were strictly HTML based, not easy to update, and weren’t the beast that WordPress is. I didn’t have experience as a content writer, I had never published an actual blog post (unless Tumblr ramblings count), and I had no idea how this was ever going to become a full time job that could support me.
But ya know what? I started anyway.
Over the next year I faced more problems than I could have anticipated, had countless sleepless nights, a list of people who didn’t support me that was growing by the day, and many moments of insecurity. But what I know for sure, is that if I didn’t start I wouldn’t be here—in the happiest place of my life—if I didn’t go for it even in the face of failure.
Start now, embrace the “I don’t knows”, work really hard, and let other people help you.
STEP 1: START NOW
You want my best advice? The thing that will without a doubt teach you the most about life?
Start right now.
Whatever it is you’re passionate about, whatever that little voice in the back of your head is telling you to go after. Do that thing and do it right now.
With all of the business owners I’ve met; all the entrepreneurs, the failures, the successes, the startups, the CEOs, and the bosses, I’ve heard one thread of commonality. If you don’t start you literally won’t get anywhere. I don’t care how many blog posts you read, you won’t get anywhere with your eyes fixed on someone else’s dreams.
STEP 2: TURN “I DON’T KNOW” INTO “I’LL FIGURE IT OUT”
When I ask the question “Why haven’t you started?”, I can predict what the answer will be 95% of the time:
“I don’t know how.”
Do you know how fatal those words are? We all know how, and if we don’t then you know who does know every 👏🏼 single 👏🏼 time, without fail? You know who will answer your “I don’t knows” within .2 seconds? Do you know who will always answer your cry for help?
It never ceases to amaze me how many times we’ll Google how long to cook meat, how to convert measurements, or how many times we are willing to let Google diagnose our latest mental illness. But yet in the face of how to start your company, how to build a website, or how to design a logo, we think, what? It’s suddenly going to cost you thousands to Google it and figure it out?
Guess what. The internet is free, and it holds the answer to 90% of your questions. If I hear one more time that someone doesn’t know how to build a website I swear I’m going to copy and paste a link directly to Google.
It’s not that you don’t know how, it’s that you’re not willing to figure it out for yourself. You want the easy answer, you want some monthly membership you pay so that it’ll do the work for you.
Guess what? You do know, you’re just not willing to put in the work to figure it out. So I need you to do something for me right now. Next you time you go to say “I don’t know”, replace that with “I’ll figure it out”, and see how far you can get.
STEP 3: WORK HARD (REALLY REALLY HARD)
This might come as a surprise to you, but this isn’t going to be easy. For every successful company you admire, there were hundreds of hours of work that went into it that you never saw. There were nights spent sleepless, missed social outings, inabilities to follow any conversation about recent TV shows, lost relationships, tears, blood, and sweat.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve woken up feeling hungover from a night that I was up until 4:30am and had to be up at 8:30 for a conference call with my actual job. I was lucky enough to work remotely for that job though, so no one had to see my disheveled appearance or the fact that I still had my gym clothes on from the day before—gross I know. But I was still there, and prepared to still give 100% to my day job which was slowly becoming the bane of my existence.
Once I was done with all my daily tasks at the job I didn’t like, I would spend two hours pushing my body to new levels at the gym. The gym was my thing. It was the reason I succeeded. Because no matter how tired or beat down I felt, the gym was mine. It was my solace, it was my church, it was my alone time, it was my meditation and no one else could take it away from me. I knew that when I was done working out that it would feel like a new start to my day. I’d go home, cook dinner, spend time with my dog, and then I was back at it.
I spent a year like this. Working until 3-4am, waking up, working a job to pay the bills, working out, eating right, and repeating.
At first it can be really inspiring staying up until 4am every night passionately working on what you love, but there is a lot of fantasy in that.
When you decide to start, you’re accepting that you’re going to spend the next year (at least) working incredibly hard doing things that aren’t the most glamorous or fun. Starting a business isn’t all sunshine and cool pictures. There are A LOT of operational tasks you’ll have to do that aren’t fun. You’ll learn things that you have zero interest in—like how business taxes work and the difference between becoming an LLC or a contractor.
It’s easy to give the advice to work hard, but there will, without doubt, be times when knowing you have to work hard just isn’t enough. At least it wasn’t for me. There were three things I needed that got me through the moments of self-doubt.
- Find your support system. Find the humans that will hold you accountable and tell you in your lowest lows that you’re doing the right thing (thank you to Sunny for that, she was always there even though “there” was 1200 miles away)
- Find an outlet. Find a way to release stress. Mine was (and still is) the gym. You have to find a thing that is yours and doesn’t request things from you. Find your solace.
- Know your why. Right now you have an idea, the next step is starting, and part of starting needs to be writing out why you’re starting. Why you want to do this. I remember the exact moment I figured out my Why, It was when I finished reading Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why. Figure out what is fueling you and in your lowest lows pull it out and read it.
STEP 4: LET OTHER PEOPLE HELP YOU
I didn’t listen to this one. Sometimes I still don’t.
I’m not the type to let others help me. I’ve spent my life giving up pieces of me because all I’ve ever wanted was to help people, but I wasn’t always helping myself. I would work myself into the ground until I had dug such a deep hole that my high jump couldn’t get me out. So each day I work on this, each day I let someone do something nice for me. I’ve learned that self-love isn’t just me being nice to myself, it’s allowing other people to help me. Why? Because they want to. Because humans by nature are good, and when you’re passionate about somehting it will be amazing the community that will rise up to help you.
Find your humans, start right now, embrace the “I don’t knows”, work really hard, and let other people help you.
❤️ To the moon and back, humans.