5 Life Lessons Learned as a Creative Entrepreneur

“[Stay humble], stay hungry, stay foolish.” - by Steve Jobs, edited by me. 

As the year draws to a close, I find myself feeling more introspective than ever. Life happens and goes on - whether you like it or not - in a blink of an eye. It’s been quite a spectacular year of accomplishments and drawbacks; suffice to say, a lot has transpired. Throughout this process, I’ve had to learn new lessons and un-learn some old ones. I thought this would be a suitable time to share them all with you. Without further ado, here are the top 5 lessons I’ve learned thus far as a self-employed entrepreneur: 

1. Your are the boss (and also your assistant).

As a young and burgeoning entrepreneur, “doing it all” is an inevitable and sometimes harsh reality. Initially this may seem like an obstacle. In retrospect, however, the act of “doing it all” really forced me to be more resourceful and proactive. Just like any other career path, entrepreneurship requires you to get your feet wet and hands dirty. The strongest takeaway from wearing multiple hats is the broader understanding of what it takes to be a servant leader and build a well-rounded, dynamic team that tends to the needs of the business. It keeps you grounded and excited as the larger vision of your business continues to unfold. To add to Steve Job’s infamous quote: “Stay hungry, stay foolish, [stay humble].” 

2. There is balance - but only if you make time for it.

More often than not, this lesson proved to be the most difficult struggle to overcome. Self-employment is one big juggling act that won’t stop, until you willingly put an end to it, since it’s not your typical 9-5 job. In light of this on-going dilemma, I’ve taken extra steps to carefully carve out pockets of time in between intense days of content production, meetings and logistical administration. Quality time can exist beyond the weekend - it could be a random night when a meeting or event falls through. Catching up with a friend over lunch? That can be squeezed in between a day of meetings. Any downtime essentially becomes an opportunity for quality time - every moment suddenly becomes so much more precious. 

3. Spending wisely (budget, budget, budget) 

Most freelance contracts and payment terms dictate a Net-30 or Net-60. This translates to having to wait until 30 or 60 days after the project is completed in order to receive compensation. While this is the norm when it comes to freelance work and will certainly strike fear amongst any unsusceptible, Millennial entrepreneur, it forces you to budget for expenses and untimely rainy day situations. It also means you gradually and ultimately spend less but more wisely over time. The ‘splurges’ and investments you make become more meaningful and less materialistic. 

4. Be decisive, diplomatic and flexible.

There is saying that “80% of success is showing up.” While there’s certainly truth to that statement, it’s no longer a mantra I blindly follow. Social media visibility has quickly become the primary driver - and biggest detractor - behind self-branding. Saying yes to and attending every single event, every networking opportunity could potentially be over-saturating and damaging for your brand. Not every event or networking opportunity is a life-changing one. Sometimes it’s more productive to do some soul searching to ensure the opportunities you pursue properly align to your branding efforts. In my personal experience, when things aren't exactly going your way, it’s a better option to go with your gut feeling and practice diplomacy to keep the doors of communication open. Keep it zen at all times. 

5. “Your network is your net worth.”

A sage individual in the distant past left me with this quote during my college years - I don’t quite exactly remember who but these words stuck with me. And they’ve held true all these years, especially after I started undertaking my entrepreneurial endeavors. Nurturing and nourishing your network is essential to the growth of your business. Contrary to what you might think, one’s network doesn’t have to be exorbitant nor nepotistic. Collaborating with like-minded individuals, who align seamlessly both in work ethic and personality, are far more beneficial and conducive to further exposure for your brand. For instance, I have comfortably and organically partnered up with my dear friend Stephanie Liu of HoneyNSilk on a number of projects with much aplomb. It’s all about the quality of your network - not so much the quantity. 

The bottom line is - you can do it all while staying true to who you are, your intentions and convictions. It’s about combining your mind, body and soul and put that into action. Just like Faces Apparel’s ultimate collection, which is designed to maintain optimal core temperature. Its every fiber is wholly made and manufactured here in the USA and from the ground up - much like all hard-working entrepreneurs out there. 

Hope you guys enjoyed this post on some life lessons I've acquired thus far - please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below to win a prize package from FACES Apparel! All you have to do is enter using the widget below - deadline is next Tuesday, 1/19/15. Good luck everyone!