By Tammy Woeppel
Sometimes we all need to shift our mindsets to view things from a different perspective and this is especially true when delving into the world of entrepreneurship. For some people, they inherently possess that entrepreneurial trait and make the transition into self-employment pretty seamlessly- it's not a matter of 'if' so much as 'when'. For others though, it can happen more unexpectedly. If anyone had told me 10 years ago that I would currently be living in South America with my husband and children while launching my own business with a former coworker, I could have NEVER believed it. I planned to graduate college, get a job with a major corporation, and stay put for as long as possible. Stability outweighed any need to chase my dreams and 'finding my passion' wasn't something I as a non-millenial had ever been preached.
Fast forward and so many unexpected changes occurred that ultimately led to the creation of Nona. Along the way there have been many start/stops, bumps, obstacles, high-highs and low-lows and plenty of this-is-never-going-to-happen's. One thing I've realized as I've grown/evolved is how connected the mind-body is. Visualization of my dreams, focusing on putting positive energy out in the world, and constantly talking myself off the ledge are all habits that I've had to create in order to get this far. And sometimes it's just hearing a piece of advice that is so meaningful, it actually helps me change my perception of any given situation. In this post, I am sharing some pearls of wisdom that have really stood out and truly helped me to keep my eyes on the prize.
1) Will + Intention + Discipline
I had the pleasure of working with Mona Bijoor at Ann Taylor LOFT before she went on to create and head up JOOR, the largest online marketplace serving the wholesale industry, while raising 2 children. I recently read an interesting article Mona wrote on preparing the body and mind for entrepreneurship, and the idea of combining will+intention+discipline really stuck with me.
"The mind is a better servant than a master. We need to train it to think a certain way, and if we don’t, our mind is left to its own devices. It can latch on to our insecurities, fears, and anxieties. So we actually have to provoke intention. Without this, our subconscious is left to think whatever it wants — positive OR negative.
Intention — which is something you want to accomplish today or over a long period of time, alone is very powerful. It sends a message to your subconscious mind, a mantra that gets replayed even when you’re sleeping.
When we add will and discipline to the equation, we’re able to turn intention into a reality. If I set the intention to meditate every day for ten minutes, that may or may not happen. I need will and discipline to manifest my goal. Will is really just self belief. Without discipline, I won’t receive the full benefits of meditation unless I do it consistently. The discipline part is setting my alarm at 6 am, getting organized, putting my headphones near my bed, picking out my guided meditation, listening to it and then zoning in. Doing this over and over improves my subconscious to handle more difficult tasks in other areas of my life."
This is hardly rocket science. If you want to lose weight, you must set the goal, and then combine diet and exercise consistently in order to see it through. The same goes for starting up a business. Social media posts don't just happen by themselves. Neither does bookkeeping, factory visits, website copy, photoshoots, packing and shipping orders, etc. It's a very easy trap to fall into the 'tomorrow' game and at moments when I've been exhausted putting the kids to bed, this has been a great reminder to revisit my to-do list.
2) Planning & Priorities
While we definitely DO NOT support the scandal that erupted around her these last few weeks, one thing that we cannot take away from digital fashion entrepreneur Miroslava Duma is her ambition and drive in building her empire. The founder of digital company Buro24/7, it's luxury lifestyle and fashion platform Buro247.com, and now the head of Future Tech Lab- a sustainable fashion incubator and VC, clearly knows a thing or 2 about priorities as she balances everything on her plate in addition to raising 3 small children.
“I believe that the more you do the more you can manage,” says Mira. “The most important thing is planning and prioritization: I always have my top five priorities and say no to everything that doesn’t get me closer to one of them.”
When you take away all the noise of daily life and think of things this way, it does truly break everything down into manageable actions because there is more space around them. In the past, I have had a tendency to do things out of obligation or because I would feel bad if I didn't agree with someone else's idea. One of the advantages to maturing is the ability to feel your best being your authentic self and that means practicing the word no, which in turn, frees you up to focus on your priorities.
3) Progress Not Perfection
This has maybe been the biggest learning lesson for me as I am a perfectionist, but to the point of paralysis and inaction. Starting a business is like having a child. There will never be a perfect time, where everything is in alignment and progresses perfectly without any hiccups, or unforeseen costs. I am deathly afraid of overpromising and underdelivering but in the business world, sometimes you just have to put that target out there in the universe and do everything you can to meet it. If that's not possible, beg for a little forgiveness, then keep on trucking. Once I stopped and looked around, I saw that I am hardly the only one that may be guilty of this- think about how many Kickstarter's you have backed that promised deliveries by a certain timeframe. I would say that in my experience, every project has ended up an average of 4 months behind schedule.
This article from Entrepreneur magazine highlights Ashley Lucas, the current director of the Babson College Women Innovating Lab program, and she had this advice to offer:
Accelerate progress by letting go of perfection: treat incremental progress as the only pathway to innovation. “At the WINLab, we teach our entrepreneurs to use a Babson pedagogy called Entrepreneurial Thought and Action. The approach prescribes experiments, prototypes, and gathering feedback to continuously build a better version based on what their customers want,” she says.
There's a reason that companies like Apple release updated, improved versions of their products every year. If they waited until they created the most perfect product, we'd never know the iPhone. While you always want to put your absolute best foot forward, at the end of the day, progress not perfection.
I'd love to hear your thoughts and strategies you use to stay sane in the crazy world of working, parenthood, or running your own business!