By Shauna Armitage
I knew what I wanted to do from a young age. I wanted to be a teacher. I went to college right out of high school because that’s “how things were done.” And then two years into my education, I didn’t want to be a teacher anymore. So I got another degree … but no job interviews.
I wanted to work for a paycheck and have someone else worry about how that money would get into my pocket. However, when I graduated from college in 2008 and then again in 2011, the economy was down and those fancy pieces of paper I had worked so hard for—and will still be paying off 20 years from today—weren’t worth anything.
I had no job, no prospects, and a considerable amount of debt.
I became a freelancer … then a business owner
Until that point, I had never considered being a freelancer. But I felt frustrated and stuck, so I did what I could to get some experience and income. Turns out, I was really good at it.
I started out doing assistant work, keeping the execs organized. I wrote copy for blogs, landing pages, and lead magnets. I managed social media accounts and envisioned new campaigns. Over time I discovered that I was a marketer. Finding the right fit for my personal brand, however, was a square peg/round hole situation.
And that’s when I realized…. I didn’t want to be a freelancer. I wanted to handle business the way that felt most authentic and effective for me. I wanted to be a business owner.
3 things I learned as I built my business
As a high schooler, I thought everyone had 9-5s. People didn’t own businesses, corporations did! When being dumped unceremoniously into the job market after graduation, I discovered that wasn’t true. More and more people are taking this path into entrepreneurship today as they are discovering that the road they thought they had to travel is blocked—or not a desirable road to go down.
While it’s common in our culture for more and more professionals to turn to entrepreneurship, it’s not an easy thing to do. And these are the three essential lessons I took from this crazy experience:
1. Owning a business means that YOU are responsible for finding your next source of revenue, building the brand, and creating positive outcomes. Responsibility can be scary, and you will fail. Learn from it. Each failure—no matter how big or small—will shape you into the the kind of leader and business woman you want to be.
2. Regardless of whether you work for that paycheck or you work for yourself, you still need to have a deep understanding of your personal values. No matter what your business is, you’ll have to interact with other people, so communication and flexibility are important. However, there should be some things you will never compromise on. Identify what those things are, and they will become the north star that guides you in growing your company.
3. There are a lot of things you don’t know that you don’t know. How can you find solutions to problems you don’t know exist? You can’t. You’re going to make some mistakes, and that’s ok, but the best things you can give yourself as a new business owner are the gifts of knowledge, mentorship, and community.
There’s always someone who has already been where you are, and there’s always someone who is willing to support you. Find those people and learn everything you can from them! Build a community around yourself and your business that will be the foundation upon which you can build real success.
Shauna Armitage is a freelance marketing strategist, as well as founder of the Making Moxie podcast and challenges.
This article was originally published in Women of Denver magazine.