Year 1 Lessons From My New Life As An Entrepreneur

A year ago I leaped, bungee jumped and cartwheeled into my new work life as an entrepreneur and agency owner. Making this change has been one of the scariest, most exhilarating and rewarding experiences of my career. Leaving the ‘safety’ of the corporate world working for Fortune 500 companies felt a little crazy and it has taken a lot of faith, grit and hustle to make it through this first year.

Here’s what I’ve learned from this journey…

There’s never a perfect time

If you’ve always wanted to try owning your own business and you’re just waiting for the perfect window of time – don’t wait for it. There’s never a perfect time. If you want to own your own business chart the course, secure the funding, make your mind up and GO. Otherwise you might look back wishing you had given it a go sooner.

Leverage everything you’ve ever learned in your career to build your business

We owe all of our agency’s success to the mentors, teammates, bosses, clients and business partners who we’ve collected experiences with and learned from throughout our careers. There isn’t any day that goes by where I don’t utilize some skill, approach, tactic, idea or concept that I learned from observing and learning from all of the amazing people who I’ve been privileged to work with at Ogilvy, Adecco Group, Amedisys and Balfour Beatty Construction.

As I was contemplating the decision to run my own shop, one of my mentors said to me, “You have enough experience to confidently do what you do really well, so go and build your dreams on it…” If you have a lifetime of experience and you’re confident in your skill set and/or your idea, go build your dreams on it!

If you do good work, there’s plenty of it to go around

In the beginning, I would stay up late at night and worry about our new business pipeline. I’ve learned this past year that if you work your ass off, deliver good work and show your clients how much you care, there’s plenty of business. It will find you. We have built our business on strong partnerships with our business partners and have never felt the need to “take down” the competition. Do the work. Add value to your clients. The business will come.

Choose who you surround yourself with wisely

The people you surround yourself with impact your energy, outlook and perspectives. One of the key benefits to having my own company is that our team is always in the position to choose who we surround ourselves with. We want to work with companies that do good in the world and work with people who give the universe good juju.

In turn, we want to be a business partner our clients want to spend time with. We want to provide positive energy to their organization in any way we can. Whether its business partners, teammates or clients – choose who you work with wisely. Some days you’ll spend more time with them than your family…

Remember, nothing is forever

I have a huge aversion to risk. I score in the 99th percentile in terms of needing security. One of the key insights that helped me make the decision to own my own agency was this comment from a friend who recently made a similar shift, “Nothing is forever. If you try something and it doesn’t work out, you pick yourself up and you try something else…” Opening the door to the concept that I’m going to try building my own business instead of seeing this opportunity as changing my whole life to be an entrepreneur forever really helped me take the leap. This simple shift in perspective helped alleviate my fear of the “risk”. Thanks to this wisdom, I’ve enjoyed a full year of owning my own business, growing it, nurturing it and not being afraid for it to fail.

In closing, I want to thank the Connective Agency crew that makes work so fun, creative, invigorating and exciting every day: Ayona Anderson, Jordan Lewis, Manuel Valencia, Marie Powell, Matt McGaughey, Robbie Good, Tommy Talley and Whitney McAnallen – THANK YOU. I’ve learned so much from each and every one of you and consider it a great privilege to get to do great work with you! Y’all ROCK THE CASBAH.

To our clients, thank you for entrusting us with your brands, your business and your dreams. We pour our hearts into the work we do and we hope it shows. We are forever grateful you’ve chosen us to be your partner and will do our best to continue earning a seat at your table.

To the aspiring entrepreneurs out there, I hope you find your journey as rewarding and humbling as I have.

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined -- Henry David Thoreau, author