This week marks one year since I left corporate America to become an entrepreneur. The last 12 months have been filled with ups and downs, wins & lessons and guess what? I have enjoyed every moment of the journey and I'm thrilled to share with you what I've learned so far.
Leaving Corporate America and being my own boss is not a task for the faint of heart. 2019 was a year full of BIG changes for me. I left a six figure career of 15 years to start my own business. I truly had no clue what I was doing but I knew that this was my path. A shift that was so much bigger than me was in full motion. As a result, I had to make some sacrifices. I left my ocean view condo in Orange County, CA and moved to a "charming" one bedroom apartment in Los Angeles. In the midst of all these changes, the one thing that was and will always be most important in my journey is the right mindset. The fear of giving up the comfortable lifestyle that I had come to love and walking into the unknown was exciting but also extremely frightening. I knew that I had to work on my mindset. I had to face my fears and look at this moment as an opportunity to focus on what I wanted out of life instead of what I had to lose. My thoughts, actions, people, the books I read, TV, etc all needed to reflect my absolute best self. Positive thinking and visualizing the best possible outcome were the key to my shift and its how I start every day. "Stinkin thinkin" will never take you to the next level so brain wash yourself into thinking that you can do absolutely ANYTHING!
2. ROME was not built in a day
Realize that your first year is about building. I know at times I have felt overly optimistic about my journey (which isn't necessarily a bad thing) and thought I could start a business and then BOOM, it's immediately successful. When you really think about it, immediate success diminishes the importance of the journey. Sometimes we get so caught up in getting to where we are trying to go that we miss the messages, we forget to celebrate the small wins, and we miss being in the moment. I learned very quickly to put the work in and build everyday, but to take a deep breath, be present and trust that everything will work out for my good. That is really when things started to make sense for me.
3. Focus on One Thing at a Time
When I started my journey, I found myself saying yes to many things. I had so many ideas of how I wanted to build my business and I thought the best thing for me to do was to have several projects happening all at one time. After awhile, I realized I was getting no where with trying to do everything all at once. It was creating too much stress and I was starting not to enjoy any of it. As a result, I had to change my approach and focus only on ONE idea. My time and effort went into developing my brand and thats when things started to take shape and that's how KOKO HARLEY was created.
4. Surround Yourself with Like Minded People
Your network is SO important. As an entrepreneur, it can get lonely. I missed being about to collaborate with a team like I did in cooperate America. This is why it is imperative to network and attached yourself to other entrepreneurs and people that can inspire, motivate and hold you accountable. This is not the season to associate with naysayers, toxic or drama-filled people. I also strongly believe in hiring a professional coach for any business venture. The coaching community is full of people that have successfully been where you are trying to go so why not learn from those that have been there done that? Some people may frown at paying for coaching but I believe its the best investment you can make towards accomplishing your goals. Let's say a professional coach cost $2000, that may seem like a lot of money but do you know how quickly you can make a $2000 mistake in business? Why not learn from an expert to minimize your lost and set up for success?
5. Work Hard, Play Hard
Make no mistake about it, you MUST put in the work. However, putting in the work at the expense of your personal life and self care is self sabotaging. It is imperative to manage your time in a way that allows for you have breaks, outlets, and the opportunity to actually enjoy life. I am still working on balancing both work and my personal life. Many mentors told me that I was working too hard and that I needed to have more fun. Say what? Who tells someone that left there high paying job to start a business to have more fun? I figured I would have fun once I "made it". How can I be serious about being an entrepreneur if I'm "having fun"? They were right. All work and no play can lead to burn out very quickly and in my experience, I am much more productive and creative when I allow myself to have fun. I am better at what I do when I can recharge with my family and friends instead of being a scrooge locked up in my house for six months with no life. Don't do that. I still feel guilty at times when I'm not working but I am making a point to work hard but enjoy my life and the people most important to me. Remember, stay present and enjoy the journey.