During this thankful season where I feel an overwhelming gratitude for my family, good health, and countless blessings in life, I’m also celebrating a milestone anniversary in business. Five years ago I quit my job and started out on an entrepreneurial venture. Since the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells me more than half of businesses with employees will never make it to the day, I’m especially grateful to have built a business that not only survived but also thrived these crucial start-up years.
These are five things I’m most thankful for (and a few lessons) after five years in business.
I was the first in my family to graduate college, let alone start a business. The idea of becoming an entrepreneur wasn’t on my radar growing up. I took what I had- a strong work ethic and ambition- then found mentors to fill in the gaps.
Before I decided to start a business, I met with mentors who validated my idea and gave me the confidence to launch. Through the years, others have shared their wisdom and experience from decades in business, helping me to see the bigger picture when I was stuck in the weeds. Having a variety of official and unofficial mentors in my business has certainly helped me reach year five and I expect I’ll rely on them even more in the years ahead.
I’ve often joked that Richett Media was built on hustle and Google–and I’m not entirely kidding. I’m still in awe of the opportunity we have in business today. Being able to harness the power of the digital universe to make connections, create opportunities, and immediately find solutions to problems (or the people who can create the solutions), has changed the game. It often feels like nothing and no one is off-limits. I’ve won accounts simply by messaging the CEO in LinkedIn. Everything we need to start and scale a business is at our fingertips and I’m immensely grateful for it.
3. A Team
Five years ago I started out with just a website, some camera gear, and a desk in the back of my house. Even when I moved into an office and brought on contractors, I was still going it alone most of the time. And I felt it. Entrepreneurship has a lot of perks, but it can also be a lonely journey. Making the decision to grow and slowly build a team hasn’t come without challenges, but it’s also one of the few things I wish I would have done sooner. Gaining the talent and diverse skills from other people is one benefit, and sharing the rollercoaster ride of excitement, disappointment, and rewards is another. Plus, seeing others that come through your business succeed and grow never gets old.
4. A Thick Skin
Maybe I owe it to my former career as a news reporter, or maybe, like Tina Fey once said, I should thank my parents “for somehow raising me to have confidence that is disproportionate with my looks and abilities,” because I’ve developed something that has become essential in business: a thick skin. If I took every proposal that wasn’t won or project that didn’t pan out to heart, I might not have made it past year one. Having a thick skin and adjusting my mindset has helped me to push through despite the fear of criticism or failure.
This one is cliche, but true. I’ve been fortunate that I’ve always felt a pretty strong sense of purpose in all my work, even when I started out delivering newspapers at 13. But nothing has motivated me more than carving my own path and creating a brand that is focused on helping other businesses succeed. It’s unleashed a bit of a business beast that I have to create boundaries for to prevent myself from overworking.
I realize I’m fortunate to spend my time doing work that I enjoy and find purposeful. But I am realizing more the importance of balancing it. So, this Thanksgiving I’m also grateful to turn off work and enjoy my life’s other great joys (and probably more food than I should). Because come Monday, it’s full steam ahead to the next five years.