169: What I Regret About Entrepreneurship
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From the moment you start thinking about owning your own business to serving your first customer, entrepreneurship seems like a challenging yet gratifying experience. Interestingly, even the stressful moments seem to have a bit of magic, such that mistakes rarely give birth to entrepreneurial regret. Thus, it seems crazy to think that someday you might have regrets about some of the strategies or financial decisions you implement. I know I did, and you might be feeling the same right now. You might be thinking a different decision would have led you to a happier, healthier, and more successful life. If only you could go back in time. But you can’t, and as a First-Generation college graduate, you probably can’t afford to make costly mistakes. So, what can you do? I believe that you need to learn from the mistakes of others. After all, you can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.
Don’t Doubt Yourself – 02:19
Self-doubt is part and parcel of the human experience. I know I’m not alone when I say that sometimes I hear a voice inside me that says, “Eve, you can’t do this. You’re just not smart enough or experienced enough. What if it doesn’t work out? Trust me, you’ll make a fool of yourself?”
For me, I always believed my destiny was to serve people in higher education. But as time went by, I thought to myself; there has to be more to life than working in higher education. And that’s when I stumbled into entrepreneurship. But there was a problem; I didn’t know how to sell. In fact, I was not too fond of the whole concept of selling. So, when I started my business, I ignored all aspects of selling, including marketing. I would sometimes offer free speaking gigs or undercharge because I didn’t want to be the typical salesperson and didn’t believe that I was worth the price I charged my clients. Far too many talented people sell themselves short because they fear they don’t have what it takes to succeed or that they are just not good enough. I will say this, do that thing you think you can’t do and that voice telling you that you’re not good enough will be silenced.
Listening to the Right Wrong People – 06:42
When starting out, you’ll see people successfully doing the things you want to do and say, “I’d do anything to have five minutes of their time.” However, not all of us have access to the Oprah Winfreys of this world. Still, that does not mean you need to settle for bad advice. Here’s the thing, not every piece of advice you receive is good for you. Some of these people you seek mentorship from are only looking out for themselves. Thus, they may give you just enough information to kickstart your business but not be better than them. And that’s understandable. We all want what’s best for our business, and inviting unnecessary competition is the last thing we want to do.
So, the right person for you is someone that wants the best for you and is fully invested in seeing you succeed. That person might be a mentor, but if you don’t have one, it would be best if you got yourself a coach. A coach can help you focus on what’s important, thereby accelerating your success.
Trying to Serve Everybody – 12:35
The one fundamental rule in entrepreneurship that takes discipline and some getting used to is you can’t be everything for everybody. First, pleasing everyone all the time is practically impossible, and secondly, you can’t possibly offer everything that everyone would want all the time. I know that running a profitable business means saying yes to everything and to everyone. But if you want to truly succeed in whatever it is that you’re doing, you need to do the opposite and niche down a little. When you try to be everything for everybody, you risk being nothing for nobody, forcing your potential customers to turn to other, more specific options.
You Can’t do Everything all by Yourself – 16:03
Most entrepreneurs, especially in the early stages of their business, believe that they have to do everything on their own. And it’s understandable. After all, we are the only ones who know precisely how to get things done and know more about our business than anyone. Moreover, it’s only you that can guarantee the necessary attention to detail, and it may take longer to teach someone to do a specific task the same way you do it. But, as you start to scale your business, the workload increases, and you risk burnout if you don’t seek the necessary help. So, I know you’re a little wary of spending money building a team, but businesses need money to make money. And if you feel like you can do everything yourself, the truth of the matter is you can’t. Accept that you’re not an expert at everything, build a team, and focus on the more essential aspects of your business.
Own Your Identity – 18:50
Even now, I still get asked whether my brand is sorely concentrated on serving people of color, and I say no. Unfortunately, when someone mentions first-generation college students or graduates, the topics often revolve around race or social class. And to tell you the truth, I didn’t want to be associated with that. I wanted to serve everybody and appeal to a broader audience. Essentially, I was not okay with being a strong Black woman whose audience gravitates towards people of color. After some time, I realized that there was nothing wrong with attracting specific groups of people. And this led to a mindset shift where I want to work with everybody, but I’m more intentional and excited about working with people of color and marginalized communities.