Entrepreneurship is not easy and when you run a start up things move so fast that sometimes you don’t have time to process what is happening.
There’s also a lot of pressure, because it’s all on you. The best way to deal with any sort of pressure and vulnerability (as Brene Brown shares in her brilliant book- Daring Greatly) is, to realize you’re not the only one going through it. In the spirit of sharing, I took a moment to reflect on my journey and share with you 5 things every female founder should be prepared for:
- The bar introduction: Sure, Facebook (or Twitter or whatever you fancy) is like the new bar, but you will likely find yourself in a real bar at one point or another faced with the question, “so what do you do?”. The first time it happened to me, I wanted to disappear under the bar table. Not because I didn’t have the fanciness to share that, ‘oh I just started a brand new venture—all by myself’. But, because, it felt weird. I was already thinking about the responses, or the surprises, or the umm hmms. It was a table full of strangers, my startup was two days old, and I really wasn’t used to it. The point is: you will be asked, and it is best to not be awkward, but prepared. Women, tend to glorify themselves far lesser and so it is important to know how to sound good, while still being humble.
- The cold shoulder: A startup is a big thing. Yes. And yet, plenty of people on your Facebook list, will seem to not notice what you’re doing. The support you expect will likely not come. It’s normal and while it’s not necessarily gender specific, it is a thing. You feel it more when you’re putting yourself out there, releasing products and when an encouraging line makes or breaks your day. But these are early days, and I tell myself, it’s more important to get clients than random friend likes. So chin up, I say!
- Someone specializing in bringing you down: While working with one of my first clients, I shared a piece of writing with an ex-colleague. Looking at my LinkedIn bio and the article, her reaction was- ‘should I call you a consultant or a co-founder’. I thought about it a moment. I sure was a consultant for my clients, and what’s in a label. But sometimes, you need to feel the label, say it out loud in the mirror, because you created it yourself, like a badge of honor, you’re working your ass off for it. You earn it.
- What’s cooking tonight: I love my family and yet, while they know what I’m doing takes me through weekends, late nights and come what may, there seems to be some inherent expectation that cooking, cleaning and being a household hero is more important. They’re not doing this out of any ill-intent, I know, but it still a frustration that comes with the territory.
- Guilt: Working through my holidays, weekends, late nights, cooking sessions, anywhere, anytime, I feel a certain sense of guilt towards my family and especially my husband. It bothered me infinitely until I began telling myself, that I’m creating something much bigger than myself, and I deserve the me-time. It’s okay to be stressed out, tired, and it’s very important to share these feelings with your partners and family. It keeps you in touch with reality and keeps them aware.
As I go through these experiences, I thought about the one learning that keeps me at it. Creating a startup is perhaps easy, but living through it forces you to create a mindful existence. Be grateful for the people who support, live each moment well- because there really isn’t much time.
What did you experience in the early stages of launching your company? Tweet @HerAgenda to share!