Everyone seems to love a good list these days! I figured I would use it to my advantage and share a few things I learned from being a small business owner. Now, I am still learning and I’ve only been doing this for less than three years so I am far from being a “Gary Vee,” but I’ve definitely experienced a lot in a short amount of time.
I am thinking of possibly writing more about entrepreneurship as I find many people are interested in turning their passions into something they can actually turn into a living off. I did it, so can you.
To my fellow small business owners, what important lessons did you learn?
Here are a few of mine.
1- Learn to deal with rejection
Those first few times where I lost deals or I was flat out rejected when asking to interview someone of interest, I felt like I was back in the dating world. Are they going to call/email me back? I thought we hit it off? Why don’t they like me? The best advice I can give to you is when it comes to business, don’t take ANYTHING personally. Move on. It wasn’t meant to be. Other doors will open for you. Trust me. There is a good reason it didn’t work out. Sometimes, those opportunities will come running back when you are actually ready for them.
2- Go above and beyond what people expect, it’s worth it.
This is actually something I learned from years of being in the corporate world. When I was 23, I was hired by a Cisco partner to be a Tech Trainer. I was the youngest on the team with the least experience. Everyone else had Masters degrees and I was a college dropout. Anyway, I went above and beyond my job requirements. I was the first to come in and the last one to leave. I went out of my way to help others and I was proactive when it came to coming up with new ideas and solving problems. When the economy crashed a few years later, I was the only one who did not get laid off. They kept me because I was the most valuable #sorrynotsorry. Within a year, I became the Manager and ended up having my own team of 6 trainers.
I use this lesson when it comes to owning my own business. I try to go above and beyond whenever I can. This leaves an impression on your clients and they will want to continue working with you.
3- You need to spend money to make it.
This is something my parents would always tell me, but I didn’t really get it until I started my own business. Now I’m not saying to go and buy an expensive printer. Obviously, spend your money wisely. Think of what you need in order to bring your business to the next level. Personally, when I started ChicpeaJC, I was at it alone for a while, waking up at 4 AM to transcribe interviews! I was the writer, photographer, social media manager, editor, you name it. After a year, I realized that the only way I would really grow would be to hire someone to help me, especially help me edit my work. So I hired Crystal Davis and the rest is history.
4- Follow your fucking gut. If something tells you it isn’t right, it isn’t right.
I don’t think I need to go into detail about this. About a year ago, someone wanted to invest in ChicpeaJC. They seemed to have the best intentions, but something in my gut told me not to do it. I am very glad I listened. Always listen to that first initial reaction in your stomach.
5- Finding good people to work for you is very hard. When you do, hold on to them. Treat them right.
My parents were both entrepreneurs and owned their own businesses, and they treated their employees like family. My parents would always say, “You don’t work for me, we work together,” and that always stuck. My mom would always bring in food for everyone, they would go on outings, and there was an open-door policy where everyone would be able to come talk to them about anything.
I grew up in this environment and that is what I wanted for myself when I started ChicpeaJC. I am really thankful to have an amazing team that believes in my vision. They are all so incredibly talented and valuable, and I try to express that to them whenever I can.
6- Be appreciative and thankful for all opportunities, big or small.
Appreciation is so important. All too often I see people’s success get to their heads and they are suddenly too good for opportunities. It’s OK to say no, it’s impossible to do everything that comes your way, but at least be appreciative and thankful for those opportunities that do come. Or else, one day, they will just stop coming. I learned this the hard way.
7- Think about your goals every single day. Put it out in the universe, then act towards them.
I am a true believer of putting positive energy out there in the universe. If you ask my team, this is something we talk about a lot. For 6 months, before moving into the Vito A. Lofts, I walked by the building every single day and always said to myself, “Office goals,” and truly believed that one day it would happen. I didn’t think it would happen so soon, to be honest, but it did. This happens to me a lot. I think about things over and over (positive things), but I also act towards them. It’s not really enough to just think positive thoughts .”I want a million dollars,” “I want a puppy,” etc. You have to actually set actions that will bring you towards your goal. Small steps will bring you there and you have to start somewhere.
8- If you believe in your product, others will, too.
This is so important. I believed in ChicpeaJC when no one else did. I remember a few days after launching, people were sharing it on Facebook and making fun of it. I didn’t let it affect me. I knew that it needed A LOT of work, but I believed in my product and I stayed positive. I remember a week post-launch, I went to a local event and confidently went up to people, introduced myself, and spoke about my site with true passion and excitement. I immediately got people’s support. I sold my product by believing in it wholeheartedly. I’ve been sticking to that ever since, and it brought me far. You can’t expect people to believe in you if you do not believe in yourself.
9- Stay humble. Never act like you are the best in the world. It’s a turn off.
I am all about being confident and believing you are the best, but there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance, so tread lightly. No matter how popular or successful you become, it’s important to still be grounded.
It’s weird because I guess I’ve become a public figure in Jersey City and whenever anyone recognizes me, I am genuinely surprised! I am confident in my work, but I don’t think of myself as the best blogger in the world or in Jersey City. I am the best at being ChicpeaJC and that’s all that really matters to me!
10- Never get comfortable. Always think of your next steps.
This is something I notice a lot of entrepreneurs do. They get into a routine and it’s comfortable, they are making a decent living, and before you know it, their passion and hustle becomes a “9 to 5.” If you’re OK with that, then that’s great, but I believe the journey is the exciting part. Never get comfortable, always think ahead of what your next move is going to be, whether it’s expanding your team, developing a new product, creating new engaging content for your social media, etc.
11- Smile, be warm, be approachable, and people will love doing business with you.
I honestly think this is key. If you have good energy and are a positive person, people will naturally gravitate towards you and will want to work with you. It’s really all about the experience! Human connection is so important in the business world. I think one of the reasons I’ve been successful is that I manage to find a common language with anyone. That is why I am called chic(k)pea! Chickpeas are versatile, they can be used in all sorts of recipes, and are eaten by many different cultures! They can be mashed, baked, fried, blended, etc… They are bland enough to go with other ingredients, but tasty enough to stand out on their own.
I think you get the point.
Now I want hummus.