Dreaming about the life you desire is one thing. Making it happen is another. Pursuing your dream and taking that life-defining leap of faith when all the odds are against you takes enormous courage. It requires an undying level of self-discipline, persistence and sacrifice. If you are quietly contemplating the startup route or simply seeking your daily dose of inspiration, you’ve come to the right place. This isn’t your average listicle of self-made millionaires or fairytale narratives of the business world, though I am certain that they’ll eventually satisfy the criteria. This piece is lending the spotlight to 3 Girl Bosses who are defying all odds, squashing fears and strutting down the entrepreneurial catwalk in the pursuit of success and nothing less.
When I asked these women to walk me through their startup journey, there were a few points that stood out to me – mostly the bitter taste and constrictive nature of the 9 to 5 grind. However, it wasn’t just the communal distaste for the conventional work life that inspired these #girlbosses to brave the startup world. These startups were born from a grand epiphany – one that ignited a voracious appetite for something bigger – something that traditional employment could not adequately satisfy. The previously accepted norm of busting ass to build someone else’s empire with minimal credit, if any, was no longer an appetising option on the career menu.
THE GRADUATE MINDSET
The graduate mindset is often triggered by a tangled web of naivety and misconception. After enduring years of study, it’s only natural that you crave the escape that graduation permits. However, you’re often blind sighted by the illusion of the corporate world and the desire to kickstart your career and “live the dream” even though you’re not really sure what this means just yet. You’re consumed by the idea that you should be so grateful to land your first 9-5 gig, regardless of what it actually entails. And once you’ve stepped into the corporate pool, you don’t want to jeopardise your seemingly “fortunate” position. This isn’t how it plays out for everyone, but it certainly is a widespread epidemic.
Take Jaye Hensley’s story for example. Long before Etheria Intimates was born, Jaye stepped into her first full time position with dreams to conquer the fashion world. However, instead of nursing her life passion, it was poisoning it.
‘I thought I had hit the jackpot, everything was going to plan and falling into place. Fast forward 12 months and the initial “new job” butterflies were well and truly dead.’
Similar to Jaye, Melanie Gray, Founder of Bread and Butter Marketing, was content with how her career was panning out. She was fortunate to turn her internship into a permanent full time job. But, the graduate mindset quickly faded after she read The 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris. It transformed her career perspective and inspired her to pursue a new path with a new goal in mind.
‘My long term vision is to work and travel for an extended period of time. No more exhausting 3 week holidays that only end in post-holiday depression for me. I want to see the world while making an income remotely.’
Unable to do just that in her role, Melanie decided to start her own marketing consultancy firm. With the autonomy to operate as she desired, she could be selective with clients and dictate her own hours.
THE LIGHTBULB MOMENT
When the mental and physical exhaustion kicks in and the hunger for freedom initiates an even greater discomfort, you can do nothing and accept the pending dose of regret, or you can reevaluate your career and lifestyle, establish a plan of action and commit to reversing your current state of discontentment. You need to dig deep and figure out what it is you crave – you’ll eventually experience the momentous lightbulb moment.
‘I had that lightbulb moment when I sat down and really evaluated how unhappy I was in my current circumstances, and how fed up I was with this idea that we should be so grateful to have a job in the fashion industry that we would essentially work ourselves to the ground and sell our soul.’
THE EXAGGERATED FEAR
Fear is a motivation-sucking leech. The ubiquitous fear of failure, for example, is one that is amplified by unsavoury startup statistics that only inspire worst-case-scenario deliberation. It’s presence is gnarly, but making the commitment to solider on is the only way you’re going to conquer your fear. It’s the actions you take in the face of fear that will reinstate your confidence and motivation. Just remember that ample preparation, patience and realistic expectations make for a much smoother recipe for success.
Melanie hit the nail on the head when I posed a question to her about overcoming startup fears.
‘I think that many startup fears are mentally exaggerated. Of course I had them…But when I actually imagined them happening, I thought of all the things I could do to prevent them.’
We often dismiss the sheer power of our mindset. You can quite literally convince yourself of anything – good or bad. Ultimately, you can allow an internally fabricated string of fears to strangle your startup before it can even begin, or you can take a rational approach – consider the probability of these fears and then develop a contingency plan to cushion a potential setback.
When it comes to overcoming fear-related speed bumps, a shift in mindset was the unanimous response. It’s all about resetting your perspective.
‘The mindset that got me through it was that it’s totally okay to fail.’
‘I have stopped thinking about the “doom and gloom” and started to focus on the little things to celebrate.’
‘As for the fear of blending into the vast crowd of online bloggers, I simply decided to be my 100% authentic self. I subscribe to the idea that everyone is unique, so being uniquely me has helped me overcome this fear.’
Once you cross the startup bridge, you’ll discover that there are plenty more bridges to cross. For Melanie, the most challenging thus far has been transitioning from the mentality of an employee to one of an employer. I’m sure we can all relate to the truth of the matter – when you’re locked into people-pleaser mode, you forget that saying no is actually a legitimate option.
‘Learning to say no – it was probably the biggest learning curve I’ve faced so far, and one that seems obvious from the outside or in retrospect, however at the time, I still had the employee mindset that I had to please my boss/clients at whatever cost. Learning that I had the power (and the responsibility to myself) to say no to clients who had unrealistic expectations or unrealistic budgets was a massive win.’
Amrita, founder of Crazy Vegan Kitchen, sheds light on another huge challenge surrounding the population of home bound entrepreneurs – cultivating self discipline.
Finding motivation to be disciplined when you work from home and are your own boss is one of the most challenging things I’ve had to face recently. When motivation dips and the lazy vibes kick in, it can really be detrimental to my progress.’
Mastering self discipline early in the startup game is integral to your success. Procrastination will only rob you of your precious time and hinder your progression, so be wary of its lingering presence and give it the flick in the name of discipline.
FINAL WORDS OF WISDOM
‘You only get one chance at this life and there is no point wasting it doing something you don’t love. You have to think outside the box and challenge the status quo. I would also add in a word of caution though. Be wary of Entreporn. It is easy to get carried away with the stories of success that inspire you to do it too. It is seriously hard work and takes a lot determination and smarts to succeed.’
Melanie Gray (Bread and Butter Marketing)
‘People will try to bring you down, people will try to tell you you’re crazy at times, but use that as motivation to prove them wrong. I’d say being patient and consistent is key.’
Amrita Bala (Crazy Vegan Kitchen)
‘Plan, Plan, Plan. Starting my own business was the best decision I have made, but that doesn’t mean it has been completely smooth sailing. The more planning you can do, the more it will benefit you in the long term. Don’t be too scared and hold yourself back, be confident in your skills and your ability and give it a go. I took a calculated risk to quit my job and devote all of my time and energy into my own business and I definitely don’t regret it when I look back on my decision.’
Jaye Hensley (Etheria Intimates)
Are you ready to put your dream into motion? Start up the smart way – equip yourself with the necessary tools for embarking on what will be a life-defining obstacle course.