Being your own boss takes a leap of faith, a lot of energy and even more passion. It also requires good time management and an ability to embrace change.
‘I started Entourage Collection ten years ago with my husband from our dining room table. When we hired our first assistant we moved the “office” to our spare room. The highs and lows of having your own company are incredible; it is not for the faint of heart. But there is nothing like the feeling of being your own boss, making your own choices and schedule, and being able to work on the projects you choose and are interested in. We have worked with some of the greatest creative and business minds in the world, from Manolo Blahnik and Net-a-Porter to Francis Mallmann and amazing smaller brands that are so incredibly talented and inspiring like Helmer and La Bandiera Olive Oil, and incredible charitable and cultural organisations like the Old Vic Theatre and the English National Ballet.
Having done this over the course of a decade, whilst simultaneously having two children, I definitely have learned a thing or two!. Here are some things I would like to share:
Always keep learning and asking questions
No matter how long you have been going or how old you are, you are never too old or accomplished to learn more. The younger people and brands we work with constantly inspire me. They come with fresh ideas, perspectives and visions. I listen with every fibre of my body to the invaluable advice and words of wisdom I have been blessed to hear from those far more accomplished than I am.
Be nice to everyone
I cannot stress this enough. Genuine kindness cannot be rated enough. You can learn from everyone; you never know when you might need someone’s help, it just makes everyone happier. Don’t forget, even the most junior of assistants will one day be a senior manager or boss themselves.
Be careful with investment
If you are seeking investment (or have a sudden influx of cash), be careful about where it comes from, how much it is for, and what you plan to do with it. This may seem obvious, but you really must have a very clear plan of what you are going to do with it, and quite often you may not need as much as you think you do or are offered, especially when you are just first starting out.
Measure twice, cut once
Growing up, my father used to always tell me “Measure twice, cut once”. This same sage advice comes to starting your own business too. When you are first starting out, you most likely don’t have a ton of money to spend on the business itself, particularly on brand assets and a website. Spend the money you do have wisely, have a good and clear strategy and work backwards so you ensure you don't miss something. It is far better to go with something simple but clear that doesn’t cost you a fortune in the beginning, which you may only need to amend way down the line once you are more established, rather than something you have to keep redoing again and again and again.
Get out and network and socialise
Meet as many people as you can. First of all, you never know who you might meet, regardless if it’s for your business or not. Secondly, you can meet potential clients and contacts in the most random of places. Don’t be afraid to go up and talk to people, introduce yourself and listen to their stories. If you only hang out and talk with the same people you know, you will never expand your circle of contacts.
Negotiate as if you have nothing to lose
If you don’t ask, you don't get. At the end of the day, even at the very end of a negotiation, it isn’t necessarily a done deal. If you don't like the outcome, don't move forward, and always, above all else, trust your instinct.
Be open to new adventures and new opportunities
What you start out doing might not remotely resemble what you end up doing five years down the line and that’s okay. Be prepared to say yes and try new things. Don’t be averse to change, embrace social media, engage in collaborations, whatever it may be, but go for it.
You may find yourself diverging from your initial chosen path and embracing new revenue streams. When you first start out don't be afraid to diversify. Having multiple revenue streams, if synergistic with your initial idea, will only ease the financial burden of a new business.
Having an experienced sounding board from day one
Others have risen and fallen, as you will, so ask questions and learn from others. Although you may not always heed the advice, you will at least have a frame of reference and some words of wisdom for when it goes wrong and when it goes right.
Allot time for yourself weekly
And finally… when you have your own business you will work 24/7 because you will always be thinking about work and dealing with issues. It isn’t all glamorous. You will have to do the IT and HR and sort the electricity. The list goes on and on. You will learn an incredible amount from doing it yourself, you will learn from experience and you will learn from your mistakes (and you will make them! It’s okay!). But with all this in mind (on top of everything else we deal with in real life on a daily basis, from children to relationships to politics!), be sure to do take some time just for yourself, every week. It’s so important.
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