It’s National Entrepreneur Day and we’re taking the opportunity to pause and take stock of what this year has taught us. As first time entrepreneurs, we’ve learned a lot in 2020. This year has brought its share of highs and lows; we’re told that’s pretty normal for the entrepreneur life. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
Amanda, in her home office
Amanda: Being an entrepreneur was actually not a goal of mine. I always thought of myself as a corporate person – happy to support and improve existing businesses. I also didn’t think I was smart enough to run my own business and the risk-taking aspect of it scared me. But as I got further along in my career, it became clear that I was just as smart and capable of running a business as anyone else. And the risk side was just something I had to live with. The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward, as the old saying goes.
I came to a crossroads in my career in 2018. I was tired of corporate life. I fumbled around for a few years – doing various jobs in search of a “calling.” I realized that I needed to focus on doing what I loved: strategy and/or being in charge of a business. I got the opportunity to do both. I reentered corporate life in a strategic role but, more importantly, I began to dip my toe in the entrepreneurial pond with Le Wren.
Le Wren offered the opportunity to grow a business from the ground up. While the risk was high, both Serena and I had the energy and capital to test out the idea. What’s great about being an entrepreneur is knowing that “we built that.” Knowing your business isn’t a result of someone else’s choices but of your own decisions. But with that also comes an obligation to get things right. It can be lonely and scary. I know I’m not the only woman to suffer from “imposter syndrome.” Self-doubt can rear its ugly head and take you down. You have to manage those emotions and keep pushing forward."
Serena: Unlike Amanda, I’ve always wanted to have my own business. The problem was that I never knew exactly what form it should take; the concept was never clear. Unfortunately, it took some tragic life events to help me get clear on the vision. When the concept hit me, it smacked me right in the face. I had goosebumps. It felt like I had been training my whole life to start Le Wren. Considering there were no better career prospects on the immediate horizon, the time finally felt right.
But, like Amanda, I worried I wouldn’t be able to figure it out. While corporate politics, processes and strategy never fazed me, I was so intimidated by all that I didn’t know about starting and running a smaller scale business of my own. It felt paralyzing at times.
There comes a time though, where you have to face your fear if it means living your dream. So what if we didn’t know how to create a website? We’ll figure it out. How do you get a tax ID? Don’t know, but we’ll figure it out. Ultimately, the desire to bring Le Wren to life was much stronger than any fear or self-doubt because it meant so much to me as a calling. And, I had Amanda to help support and bounce ideas off of along the way.
In addition to Amanda, we also had incredible mentor-ship from a small group of female founders, businesswomen and entrepreneurs to help guide and support us through all sorts of start-up woes. From high level strategic framework questions to which brand of packing tape was best, we had a trusted community to ask all manner of questions. That gave us the extra confidence to really get going.
While Le Wren isn’t even a year old yet, we’ve already learned so many valuable lessons. These are lessons we often have to remind ourselves of as we go about our day-to-day. And in sharing them with you, we hope they open your eyes to what’s possible:
- Lesson 1: Trust your instincts. It sounds cliche, but it’s so important. If you believe in the bigger vision, you’ll figure out the details as you need to. Don’t let fear or self-doubt overpower what you know in your heart is possible.
- Lesson 2: Build your community of supporters and advisors. Ask for help often. You’ll need it. And that’s ok.
- Lesson 3: Embrace what you don’t know and try to have fun learning it. Serena has always loved working with product. After fifteen years in merchandising, it’s what she knows best and her comfort zone. Surprisingly, though, she now also loves working on the site. Who knew web development could be so much fun?
- Lesson 4: Figure out when you have to put your CEO hat on v. your entrepreneur hat. They are such different skill sets and one needs to master both to be successful over the long term.
- Lesson 5: There will be busy days and there will be slow days. Keep your eyes on the prize, as they say. Or, to borrow another popular saying, it’s a marathon not a sprint. We are so invested (financially and emotionally) in Le Wren that we have to remind ourselves a slow day does not mean the entire business is a failure. It takes time. Have faith.
Check out Serena & Amanda's absolute favorite things right now here.