Musings from a Twenty-Something: How To Be An Entrepreneur

Change is scary.

There’s a reason people run from it. Hide from it. Ignore it and sweep it under the rug. Change is truly scary.

So what does it say about someone who willingly decides to quit her job and launch a startup, knowing that approximately 80% of new business ventures “fail” within the first two years? Is she crazy? Clueless? Fearless? Reckless? A little bit of everything?the office

I prefer to use the words passionate and driven – but hey, that’s just me. And I am that girl – one of them at least. I was and continue to be the person who will risk it all to follow my heart, to do what I believe will make me genuinely happy and not just happily complacent.

I am not following my dreams, I’m following my vision and making it a reality. I am the only one who can strive to make my goals tangible and same goes for you, in whatever it is you wish to accomplish.

Googling “how to be an entrepreneur” would probably yield some hysterical results, along with the cookie-cutter “there’s no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs” answer. If there was a clear way to start your own business, everyone would do it. By now I’m sure you’ve realized that the hilarity of this article is that I have no idea “how to be an entrepreneur”, and there’s no exact formula to be one; but I can offer some lessons learned from my own adventure, simply starting with you. The essence of all of this comes down to you: Do you believe in your idea, yourself and your drive to make it happen? Be honest with your answer and let that guide you through the toughest part – the start.

Within two weeks, I quit my promising and well revered job, moved across the country with my boyfriend, began living together for the first time and started laying down the groundwork for a tech startup together – and I was terrified. I willingly made the four biggest decisions of my life and after that, everything was simply out of my direct control; I could react to curveballs, situations, and choices, but the biggest truth that I could hold on to was that I would be okay. I have no idea what the future holds, but I believe in myself, and know that I can work through it.

Know that you will be challenged beyond your comprehension. Every reason NOT to leave my steady paycheck crossed my mind at some point… Is this irresponsible of me? Can I support myself financially until we’re profitable? Am I truly willing to make the necessary sacrifices? Can I do this knowing I may fail? Or better yet, can I overcome the failures?

I’ve worked very hard my entire life to avoid failure, and now it openly slithers around me, creating a roundabout way to success. The wrong turns and steep missteps have been frustrating, but I’ve found my way back with added knowledge for the next snake in the road.

I can’t tell you to not be afraid of failure, because it’s impossible to avoid – but I can tell you that failure is never the reason to give up, it’s simply a stepping stone to the next place.

capableFor me, it’s been about the little moments. I’ve had to shift my focus from the big picture, to celebrating the tiny successes along the way. Our eagerness and confidence was shattered when our software platform didn’t make the cut for an international incubator program; we faltered, got angry, and scoffed away. But once we were able to look at things clearly, we knew there was an opportunity to tweak our product in a more streamlined manner. For a non-tech nerd like myself, to redesign the wireframing from scratch was a monumental moment for me; I had never imagined myself taking control of a task like that and was truly proud of the knowledge and experience I gained from the project. To envision something that can be better, and challenge yourself to be the one to create it, is an incredibly powerful feeling… And out of failure came the pieces of my bruised confidence.

Hop on the Six Flags bandwagon, because this ride’s the best rollercoaster yet. I’ve had good days where my hopes balloon and days where I want to curl up under the bed to hibernate; I’ve had moments of pride and indestructible capability, only to be matched by tears in the grocery store and heart-stopping anxiety. Every day, every hour, every moment is different – you learn things about yourself you never knew existed, you challenge yourself in ways that unearth newfound characteristics. To put it simply, you live, you exist and you persevere with change.

You grow from change.

Face your fears, thrills, and doubts head on, and ask questions. I looked for advice and “the answer” anywhere I could find it! l I let some words soak in, and abandoned others. But at the end of the day it was my decision. I pushed myself to actually do it because it’s my life. I ultimately asked myself, “Am I doing what makes me happy? Or am I just happy enough?” I was terrified of the unknown and lack of control in what could or would happen, but I knew I risked far more in settling than never finding out what I’m truly capable of.

So whether you are trying to start the next billion dollar company, or just want to find the courage to ask for that well deserved raise, go for it. The worst thing that can happen is you learn a thing or two along the way. Because ultimately, it’s about the journey… It’s always about the journey.

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Kristyn is a co-founder of KoaWare, a content management platform designed to make management cool again, allowing entrepreneurs to focus on doing what they love. She also founded 21 fish., a boutique marketing agency that helps brands make a splash through creative Brand Marketing strategies. She’s a fitness enthusiast, avid yogi, amateur-wannabe-chef, seafood loving-pig-obsessed-green-juice-drinking foodie, and relapsed workaholic who can usually be found in a bikini. Follow her on Instagram & Twitter!

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