The Most Valuable Things I learned My First Year as an Entrepreneur

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...building a bridge does nothing if you won’t allow others to cross it.  
— Izzy Sapien

1. Don’t start a business for freedom, fame, or cash
"Wow I’m so glad I started this company because it was the easiest way to be famous/rich/or happy." Said no one ever. 

Freedoms, fame, cash: The three lies of entrepreneurship. Especially in a “do-good” industry. If this is even in your top 10 list of reasons you are thinking of starting a business, just quit now. Nobody worth the hype set out to be famous (ex. see my novel hitting shelves around America soon: Kim Kardashian: Why the eff is she famous? ) nobody worth a cent set out to be rich ( Innovation, not income, is the cornerstone for success ) and freedom from responsibility is reserved for the young, naive, uninformed, or unintelligent. And puppies.  Freedom is just a lie. Everyone works for someone and the few that don’t, like Mother Theresa, answer to someone/being/energy way higher and more powerful that you definitely don’t want to mess with.

Start a business because you believe in a world that could be better. Chase your unicorn, plant your magic beans and climb that motherfucker through blood on your hands, Sweat on your back, and tears in your eyes. It's never worth it all the time and you might fail a million times before you get it right. Learn to let shit go and don't be afraid to reward yourself for small wins. Only hit $120 above your sales goal for the month, take a day to treat yourself and then sit down and figure out how you can do better next time. 


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2. Learn to swim with zombie sharks
Once you start acquiring bigger clients, you’ll start to see a much more uncertain side of people. Remember that business isn’t about luck and people don’t achieve it from always being nice, forgiving, and honest. 


At a point, could be weeks or years from now, you will witness she-titans continue to dominate the field and seemingly drastically outperform the "nice" or "deserving" people in your field. One day you’ll wake up and say something like “ Does it make me a bad person if I (insert something fucked up)?" If you have to ask if destroying someone’s business, stealing someone’s idea, or talking shit in a press piece is bad then you might already by too far gone. Trust me. I’m not going to lie, it might even be worth it. It might even make you super successful and rich. If you actually think you can wake up every morning and not let the guilt eat away at your conscious then go ahead But just remember, in the movies- zombies never come back to life. Learn to swim with the zombie sharks but don’t get fucking bit.


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3. Be prepared to let people down.
Where do I even begin with this? I have let down bloggers, brands, employees, friend, and even family. The worst part is when you really drop the ball and you’re standing there with your fucking dick in your hand, feeling like a worthless POS and then someone says “I’m really disappointed” and there’s nothing you can say. This isn’t 2nd grade when you apologize to the other kid and all the parents are happy now and the everyone moves on with their life. This would be like this if the apology costs you like 3 grand and the all the other kids, even the ones you knew before this kid, still might hate you and shun you from the playground for good by telling everyone even your cooties have cooties. 

I’ve let clients down before, I’ve dropped the ball on important Collabs and projects, and I’ve lost friends and ruined relationships with people I considered family but when you really fuck up and you’re disappointed in yourself, it sucks for a while and you start to question your intuition, intelligence, and worth. 

My advice- do some shots, write down how you fucked up, cry about it and then move on like it never happened. The most toxic thing for a business relationship is to keep apologizing or trying to find ways to make it better. It’s never going to be better just find a way to make up for it and if they are willing to move on graciously then do so but if they are not,  fuck it and leave. True entrepreneurs will either drop you or give you another shot. There is no client or friend that is worth kissing ass for years over.

4. Invest in activities, people, and projects you believe in. 

The most valuable partnerships have come from people who had very little to offer at the time but put in the work to build a solid relationship based on admiration, respect, and a shared passion. Not all partnerships pay off in a monetary sense. Building a community and believing in others who might have nothing to offer you isn't just a positive position, it's good business. Don’t preach that #girlboss bullshit if you aren’t willing to practice it. Remember that building a bridge does nothing if you won’t allow others to cross it.  


However, supporting women does not mean you can't let other women who disappoint you-know. Equality is about fairness. If she fucks up, whether she is a woman or not- telling her makes her better in the long run.

5. Learn to be a bitch. 

The worst thing you can do is let people walk over you or offer people favors out of fear they won't like you. If they respect you, they will pay. If you want to throw some free advice in, that's your call- but every grain of knowledge and skill is something worth charging for and your time is finite so the more time you waste negotiating discounts, overextending yourself on free work, or being angry behind someones back because you didn't have the courage to tell them the truth about what you really want out of your partnership - will drain your time, energy, and worst of all- your passion.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Izzy Sapien