At 25 years of age, I started my first business, Insomnia. It was not my dream to own a business at that age, nor did I feel that I was quite ready...but when is anyone ever ready?
Like any new entrepreneur, I was chuffed getting my first deal and surprised by how many people were willing to put themselves out to help me build my business acumen and ultimately get more clients. I had a business partner that lacked the marketing experience I had, but made up for it with determination to be successful and support. While I worked away and spent many hours doing the work myself, she did the bookkeeping and chasing of accounts. It was great until it wasn't.
My first lesson
Everything happens for a reason, and I was meant to meet my business partner and navigate the startup phase with her. She was able to use it to actually get a job in marketing which she was not qualified for at that point in time, but eventually ended up back where she added the most value and that was in sales. I was able to have emotional support during a startup phase and build my confidence. Breaking up is always hard, but when you have a good, strong support mechanism around you, it is much easier to navigate and to move on from.
Resilence is in my blood
I never thought I was strong, afterall, I was the girl that cried all the time at school. Any day that I had to catch the bus from a nearby property, I cried. I am not sure why, but I did. If I ever heard anyone raise their voice, I cried. By all accounts, even I thought I was weak. My first bosses all saw me cry - often, mostly due to the fact that I didn't live up to my own standards, which I learned along the way was something that was theme in my life. But deciding to say to my business partner that "this isn't working, and you have to go" and making sure that this didn't effect my business, someone else came out that wasn't me - or at least, I didn't recognise.
Every other week something happens and I have to draw upon resilience to get me through. From finances being hacked through to employees stealing or on drugs, and having to make tough decisions, I always somehow managed to get through. Resilience I have come to realise is important as an entrepreneur because you will draw on it more often than you think.
There is no room for perfectionism
I am a perfectionist by nature which is probably why I have never married. No-one was perfect and neither am I. In business, if you want everything to be perfect by your own standards, then you have to do it yourself, but there is a catch - you cannot grow a business doing it all yourself. You have to not only trust people but you have to accept that 80 percent is ok. Only when I did this, did my business truly grow.
Risk-taking is part of entrepreneurship
By nature, I am not a risk taker, well, the old me wasn't. Everything was safe and thoroughly researched before I would take any leap of faith. That was until I was told by someone in an entrepreneurship group that my "benchmark was too low", and I took offense. That day changed me and taught me that I could jump off a cliff and sometimes I would fly and other times I wouldn't land so well. Everytime I take a big risk that could go two ways, I say to myself "fuck it" and I jump. I won't pretend that this always turned out the way I had hoped, but you soon learn to live with your choices.
Loneliness is common in entrepreneurs
When you have to get a job done, you have to get a job done. That means you may have to wake up early, fly to the other side of the world, burn the midnight oil or stop everything in your life to focus. I started off life as a bit of a loner. I was shy and never liked being away from my mother, even for a minute. I spent hours sitting on our property by myself dreaming about what my life would be like if I was an adult. Being the founder and owner of a number of companies including Marketing Eye and Robotic Marketer, I have learned to cherish being alone and appreciate the silence. My best ideas have come to me when there is no-one else around.
Ideas on the fly
As a conscientious, methodical type of person, I always liked to be planned. It would stress me out if everything wasn't organised to a tee. But being an entrepreneur and forever multi-tasking and being put in situations where you need to come up with an idea or a solution at the drop of a hat, made me do just that. Now, I think it is safe to say that one of my biggest strengths is my ability to come up with game-changing ideas on the fly, during a meeting or in an Uber.
Never take people at face value
You get hurt when you accept that how a person is selling themselves is who they are. You trust when someone is not worth trusting and you find yourself in situations that you could have avoided. Now my gut instinct for people is a strong point. I am measured on friendships, business dealings and life events. I get to know people and watch for consistency. One of my friends once said to me, "you and John are the most consistent friends I have. You never change and I always know what you would do in most situations". *Name has changed to protect the identity of that person. This is true, I am consistent and the basic fundamentals of who I am and how I handle things never change.
You take the punches and move on
Sometimes as an entrepreneur you feel like the world is just punching you in the face over and over again and you sit back and wonder why this is happening to you. Then you realise that this is the life of an entrepreneur and you had better "toughen the fuck up" or else you won't survive. Learning to deal with the blows and then quickly move on is important.
Never hold onto anything
Don't hold onto grudges or negative thoughts. They will be your biggest downfall. Don't become attached to material possessions or businesses, and never become so attached to people that are not family.
Emotions need to be under control
I am a seriously emotional human being and I truly wish I was not. I feel everything, even now. In business, it is a downfall and in life, it's sad to say, it can be too. Part of you wants to be human and feel things, but if you react, then that is never a good emotion to have. Learn to control your emotions early and you will truly jump a few levels in your journey. The biggest mistakes I have made is when I have been emotional about something.
Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert, author, writer, public speaker and technology innovator. Having worked with more than 300 companies across technology, medical device, professional services, manufacturing, logistics, finance and health industries, Mellissah has a well-established reputation as an experienced marketing professional with more than 20 years experience. As the founder and managing director of Marketing Eye, she has taken the company from startup to a multi-million dollar enterprise with offices in Australia and the US. Mellissah is also the Editor in Chief of Marketing Eye Magazine, a quarterly magazine that cover marketing, entrepreneurship, travel, health and wellbeing. #mellissah #marketingeye