7 lessons from 7 years of entrepreneurship

What I’ve learned over 7 beautiful, messy, purposeful, successful, painful, incredible years.

Some entrepreneurs take years creating their business on the side, slowly easing their way into the waters. Other entrepreneurs jump straight into the deep end with no life raft in sight (I fall into this category).

But regardless of how you enter the water, the waves and riptides are inevitable. There are trials and tribulations along this journey that we don’t see coming, but there is usually a gift – a lesson – hidden within.

Here are a few of the lessons I’ve found within the waves, some of which almost took me out… but 7 years in, I’ve learned to be a pretty good swimmer.

01. Learning to hear and heed the voice of your intuition is a non-negotiable.

If there’s one thing I could have told myself from Day 1, it would be to act on the information my gut is telling me. My clever little brain is highly proficient at talking me into the opposite direction of what my intuition says (humans are so good at justification and logic!), but I can say with absolutely certainty: I could have saved so much time, money, heartache, and sleepless nights if I had strengthened this muscle sooner.

No matter how far along you are in your entrepreneurial journey, it’s worth noticing how your intuition uniquely speaks to you… then letting your mind take the supporting (rather than lead) role.

02. The vehicle doesn’t matter as much as the purpose & passion that fuels it.

Most entrepreneurs I know (myself included) get hyper-focused on the “thing” we do — the tools we use, the qualifications we have, the formats through which our work comes to life.

As we approach new levels of our expertise and identity, our current vehicle(s) start to become outdated or misaligned. Rather than focusing on the tension and discomfort – and what this might mean about you (“what do I tell people when they ask what I do, when I don’t WANT to be an accountant anymore!”) – realize that your true identity stems from your deeper purpose, not the varying ways in which it comes to life.

03. “Quantum leaps” or “overnight successes” come after years and years of slow growth.

I am a highly impatient person. I have always had a big vision and a high ambition, and it drives me crazy when things (and people… just sayin’) move slower than I would like.

I can see now, though, that without the years of slow growth and trial & error, long term success is actually not possible. These are the years that refine our stories, skills, and identities to make the impact on the world that we are here to make.

Don’t discount the importance of these years; your ten-years-in-the-making overnight success story will come.

04. Honing your skills and creating IP that you’re proud of really, really matters.

It’s so easy to get distracted by other peoples’ paths or teachings (“she made millions talking about money mindset, maybe I should start teaching that too!”).

It’s also easy to say yes to work and projects because we CAN do them, not because we truly want to.

Going deep into your zone of genius, and cultivating your own unique methodologies that align with your gifts and your life & work experience will help you build a brand for the long run. (Which, if you truly are a purpose-driven entrepreneur, matters more than any short-term wins that don’t compound over time.)

05. You are not your business, but your soul and its soul are in a co-creative partnership.

This is a hard one for personal brands and soulpreneurs, where our personal purpose comes to life through our brand purpose. But your business is its own living, breathing entity — it has its own soul and purpose just like all energetic beings do.

Practice connecting with it, dialoguing with it, and asking what it needs from you to help its purpose come to fruition. You’ll be amazed at the depth of insight and clarity that comes through.

It’s also important to separate yourself a bit so that rejections, judgements, and failures don’t feel quite so personal — you are good and worthy regardless of what happens in your business. Simple as that.

06. Relationships are everything (especially the one you have with yourself).

There probably isn’t an “Entrepreneurial Lessons” list out there that doesn’t acknowledge how important relationships are on this journey. No matter how talented or ambitious you are, you are literally hardwired to need connection & community, AND to know and love yourself deeply (the latter is much harder).

The faster you can be okay with being vulnerable, asking for help, showing your “weaknesses”, being an imperfect leader, and having awkward conversations, the more richly you can relax into the support of your people… all while having your own back.

07. You’re allowed to be a work in progress, and let your evolution be witnessed.

This is a little different than the “progress over perfection” adage. As we learn and grow as humans and entrepreneurs, our brands & businesses will naturally evolve.

Rather than quietly tinker away for months waiting for your next iteration to be fully ready, it’s okay to let your brand or business shifts be seen in real time. Yes, consistency and certainty matters, but your authentic self expression matters more.

Ask yourself: what is true for me now, and how can that come to life in my work?

If you’re in the midst of your own brand & business evolution, my signature brand-building process, The Brand Capsule®, can help anchor your boat and become your new North Star. Send me a message or visit brandcapsule.co to learn more about how I can support you.