It's often said that entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint. EVENPRIME is almost 3 years old, and the company has been through a brand evolution, organizational changes and multiple geographies. 9 out of 10 business fail within 3 years, so I'm pretty stoked that we made it to this point.
I bet the twenty-something me would be shocked that I traded my cushy corporate tech job to start my own self-care brand. These last 3 years have taught me a lot about myself that I never knew about, exposing a lot of things I didn't know, and helping me focus on my greatest strengths. Here are some things I learned during my entrepreneurship journey.
Embrace the highs and lows of high-stakes decision-making.
One of the most important traits of being an entrepreneur is being able to make quick decisions that more often than not, decide the fate of your company. These business decisions can be messy, awkward and scary – but they can also be exhilarating, gratifying and transforming.
A few examples of high-stakes decisions are as follows:
- Investing serious capital (your own or others) to fund the venture
- Testing different business models and marketing plans with minimum resources
- Negotiating and closing strategic partnerships to grow the brand
- Firing underperforming individuals and vendors
- Pivoting the brand to target a different consumer segment
Shortly after launching the first iteration of the EVENPRIME brand, we discovered that our earliest brand champions were much younger than we anticipated. They are hyper-conscious about their self-care routines, so they are willing to invest the time to research ingredients and select products that meet their high standards. It was a tough decision at the time, but we pivoted and redeveloped the formulas and packaging to better appeal to the needs of younger community members.
It doesn’t mean to change who you are or what your brand is all about. But if you get stuck, your company won’t last very long. Goals will change in an ever-evolving market. The best you can do is continually review your business and pivot if a bigger opportunity presents itself.
Be kind to yourself.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of using your business as an excuse to avoid taking care of yourself. This has been especially challenging for me because I’m a textbook workaholic. Burnout is real. Especially during COVID's "shelter-at-home" orders in LA, it's really easy to not take the time to disconnect and relax. When I deprioritized my mental and physical well-being, I noticed that I was "on edge" and more anxious than before. The entrepreneur life is stressful as-is. There is no need to make it 1000x more difficult.
I keep my weekends blocked as "disconnect" time, and I do things that make me feel good. I know when I feel great, I’ll have so much more to give to this business and our customers. Spend time cooking healthy meals, rather than ordering delivery. Get enough sleep. Meditate. Go outside – explore nature. Occasionally pamper myself with a spa day or try something fun (like Sailor Moon themed nail art). I regularly schedule date nights with my partner or virtually hang with friends on video chat.
Ensuring a proper work-life balance for myself and my team is an integral part of being a good CEO. Combining rest with productivity is going to get me as close to this balance as possible.
Adopt systems as early as possible - but be flexible.
In our first year of operations, there was a lot of manual work. We tracked influencer campaigns, online ad creatives, website development tasks, and retailer discussions “by hand” through Google spreadsheets, docs, and slides. After a year, we amassed a litany of ambiguously named documents in the cloud that were hard to track and introduce to new employees or temporary contractors.
I wished I invested in the time and tools early on to help manage my team’s time and make decisions faster. It’s much easier to build in systems from the start rather than adding them in at a later date.
We now incorporate tools like Notion to help with project management and act as a central repository of important business files like brand assets, marketing calendar and employee onboarding guide. For accounting and finance, we use services like Quickbooks, Taxjar, A2X, and Expensify. For marketing and creatives, we use tools like Later, Canva and Klaviyo. There was an initial learning curve figuring out the best tools, but it was totally worth it. We saved a lot of brainpower and countless hours automating mundane, time-consuming tasks while decreasing the potential for miscommunication with teammates, freelancers, and partners.
It's okay to ask for help.
It's really easy to go "tunnel vision" when building your business. Starting a business in an entirely new industry really exposed my gaps. Social media makes entrepreneurship look glamorous, but a lot of us hide the "behind-the-scenes" challenges. It was incredibly hard to adjust from being the fast-rising darling in the tech world to being a nobody in a totally different industry. However, this journey opened up a whole new world of people that I happily call peers, mentors and friends. Entrepreneurs are incredibly supportive of each other, and I am often surprised by how many will go out of their way to help.
I know more than I thought I did.
One of the biggest "a-ha" moments I experienced thus far was when I realized many of the industry gurus and experts I looked up to were making it up as they go. Even after millions of dollars, there were still things they did not know or milestones they had not reached. I immediately realized that I could breathe again and give myself a break. Yes, there are things I don't know, but I embraced my lifelong learning spirit. I also considered all the things I know that a lot of people never really gave me credit for. That made me realize that I'm much further along than a lot of people, and that's considered quite an accomplishment.
Thank you again for supporting our brand, and I'm incredibly excited to continue building EVENPRIME with all of you.