March 1st 2016. That’s the date I registered my business name Deux Creative Agency and became an entrepreneur. I cannot believe that it’s been two years. Two years that I’ve been living this entrepreneur life. If you told me then what the last two years would have been like, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. It’s been a journey full of wins and also a lot of failure. But life is all about the way you look at things and for me, I see failure as an opportunity to learn, to unlearn and to grow.
With all of that said, I have never regretted the decision I made over two years ago to start my own business. I remember the exact moment the process started. It was October 2015, I was in Dubai, a place where everything seems to move so quickly. As I was standing on the rooftop of a hotel there and looking out at all that was being built, i asked myself “Winy, look at everything around you, moving so quickly, there’s a whole world out there, why are you limiting your potential, what are you afraid of?”
Taking charge of my destiny, utilising my universe given talents to create, to explore new opportunities and above all, believing in my own abilities, that to me has made it all worth it. It’s the best decision I’ve made.
Sharing is caring. I often refer back to that famous Jay-Z where he says “HOV did that so hopefully, you won’t have to go through that.” because I truly believe that if my experiences can help someone else on their own journey, well, that’s everything.
Maybe you’re at the point where you’re ready to be your own boss or maybe you’re currently in the grind. Here are some lessons I have learned that may help you in your own entrepreneurial journey:
Health is wealth
I have wax poetic about the positive benefits and the importance of fitness for entrepreneurs in a previous post here. I want to stress this again because year 1 of this journey was such an emotional and financial rollercoaster and I didn’t realise then how exercising, mental fitness, sleeping 7 hours a night and eating well would actually have a positive impact and help me deal with the new life I had chosen. Taking care of your health makes you a better entrepreneur and has a direct impact on your bottom line, believe me. When you can think clearly, problem solving gets easier, you feel less exhausted, less stress and you feel like you can take on anything. That’s exactly how I feel now with my regular exercise routine. Game changer.
C.R.E.A.M (Cash Rules Everything Around Me)
Cash flow, baby. One of the biggest obstacle that small size businesses face. As a small business owner, it sometimes feels like I am always waiting for a payment from a client. Le sigh. Some have taken up to 90 days to pay me. Working with corporate clients, that’s just part of the game. Even if your terms of payment are immediate or even net 30, the reality is, it doesn’t always work out that way. So what I’ve learned is, you just really need to be smart with your business expenses and ensure that there’s a percentage from each and every project that stays in your account to cover all that needs to be covered so you’re never in a cash crunch. Easy to say, right? At the beginning, this was practically impossible, but it gets better.
Ain’t Nobody Got Time For Dat!
When I first started, I assumed my network would be the first to support me. Never assume. I remember the tons and tons of proposals that were asked of me, the time I took to write them, sometimes even a week and it going absolutely nowhere. I remember one company in particular, different departments asked me for an array of proposals. Meetings after meetings, proposals here and proposal there and nothing. I remember seeing my ideas months later being used by said company and not being compensated. What I learned from that is, go where you’re celebrated not where you are tolerated. If a company wants to hire you, they won’t keep asking you for your ideas without compensating you. And that proposals should be high level, not overly detailed, unless they are paying you for that.
Opportunities Come To Those Who Create Them
This lesson was a game changer. If you’re waiting for projects or opportunities to come to you, you’re probably going to wait a long time. You’ve got to create the opportunities that are of interest to you. For me, I reached out to CBC, a year and a half ago and made them an offer to contribute in terms of a radio segment on their morning show on marketing and digital. I also started thinking of great ideas for my business that could have an impact on community. Ideation has always been my thing so I started using that skill to my advantage. I would reach out to different possible partners and pitch them my ideas and see how we could collaborate. From that, came one of my biggest projects to date Créateurs z, a digital camp for youth that has now expanded to two cities with plans for more next summer.
For me, I constantly must think of ways of utilising my talents so they are at service to others, have a positive impact on society as well as revenue for my company.
Fail and get back up again and again and again and again
Failure is part of success. In fact, there is no success without failure. I made so many mistakes in the last two years, most of them related to operations and finances. Here’s the great thing about life: you can change things up and learn. When I realised that the way I was doing things wasn’t working, I got great advisors to help me with the things I have trouble with. I just want to learn and do everything that is humanly possible on my end to do better so that my business can succeed.
Great Things Don’t Come From Being Comfortable
Everything clicked for me when I started doing things that made me uncomfortable. What I learned was to basically say yes to everything I was scared of and didn’t think I was qualified to do and I was going to figure it out. And each and every time, I have. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable if you want to go to the next level of your entrepreneurial journey. No week is the same for me and I actually welcome not knowing it all. It used to terrify me, it doesn’t anymore.
Team work makes the dream work
My friend Carl-Edwin who is also an entrepreneur told me two years ago that everybody needs help. He was the first person to ever support me, even paid for my website and logo to get me started. Later on, I got and still get help from a team of amazing people who want me to succeed. Some are small business owners with complementary skill sets and sometimes we collaborate, refer each other work and help each other with our various mandates. Some are friends with full time jobs who take time out of their day to listen to me or offer advice or comments on a client project. Some are angels who even helped me out financially while I was waiting to get paid (see my point about cash flow). I also work with the smartest, sweetest and most hardworking young women who believe in me, my work and help me with this blog and with business. And above all, my family, they are also part of my team and without their love and support, I wouldn’t be here, two years later. It takes a village. What I learned was that asking for help was a form of strength, not weakness and that I was surrounded with a bunch of real ones who wanted me to succeed. Forever grateful.
Let’s Have Fun, Ok?
Bruh, if you’re not having fun living your dream as an entrepreneur, why the hell are you doing this? Year 1 was stressville so having fun was the last thing on my mind. When I learned how to manage my stress, it became fun again. I’m not jumping off the walls every day but most days, i am so bloody happy. I laugh daily, take time to meet with friends when it’s not crazy busy and do things that make me happy. You must have fun while you’re doing the work and afterwards too.
I want to hear from you: Are you an entrepreneur? What have you learned thus far?
Photos by: Erin Leydon