Taking the leap: the journey of an entrepreneur
In August of 2020, I made the hardest decision of my life. It was time to close the doors to my dream job. I had no idea what was next for me, but it was time to leap into the unknown and take the first next step.
In 2010, I decided it was time to build something for myself. I was 24 and answering phones at a call center; every twenty-something’s dream, right? I knew that there was no path forward for me there. I thought to myself, “Why give 110% of myself to a company that only sees 60% of that?” If I worked for myself, at least that 110% would be going towards something I cared about. I took $200, bought some beads and the rest is history.
Taking the Leap
In August of 2011, I took the leap into full-time self-employment. I wasn’t sure how it was all going to work out, only that I needed to take that leap. I wanted to see if I could turn my dreams into a reality and grow my jewelry company, Fresh Tangerine. Over the next 9 years, I went from working from home to working from a small studio, hired contractors, moved cities, hired employees and opened two retail stores. I was published in a book, spoke on the local news, and interviewed on podcasts. It was an exciting and wild journey.
I also tried to take vacations only to spend time working from my phone, feeling guilty for taking time away from my business. I let go of employees and clients, after waiting too long and letting tension build inside me. I spent evenings crying, working late, and feeling completely alone.
The highs were high, and the lows were very low.
Then the pandemic hit, and I knew it was the beginning of the end. I tried to hold on, working hard to pivot and make it work, but my heart wasn’t in it. So I found myself in an intuitive business class in August of 2020, and I couldn’t deny it any longer. It was time to let go.
My first retail store in the historic Pioneer Square neighborhood in Seattle.
Closing a business is a lot like getting a divorce…or what I imagine getting divorced is like. Being a business owner is the closest I’ve ever come to getting married. There are a lot of moving parts and small tasks to tend to. There are also giant waves of emotion and confusion.
Looking back, taking that first leap into full-time self-employment felt a lot like taking the leap out of it. I didn’t feel ready or secure in my decision. The only thing I felt confident in was that I had to see what happened.
My second retail store in Capitol Hill, Seattle.
What I’ve noticed is that there is one common trait that unites all entrepreneurs. It’s a deep trust and knowing that you can figure it out. People often ask me what my secret to a successful business is, and I always say “I’m just really good at Googling things.”
I wasn’t the most innovative jewelry designer, and I definitely didn’t have the best business acumen at 24. But— my deep passion for what I was doing, the trust that those little nudges would guide me, and the idea that I would figure everything else out took me on an unforgettable journey.
You might be wondering where the lessons are here.
The main lesson is that life is short, and if you don’t bet on yourself, then who else will?
When I started my company, everyone doubted me. Even my best friend told me I was crazy. I could feel the worry from others creeping in, and it only fueled me to work harder.
So, I’m going to ask you, what is that big crazy dream you keep putting off? It might be closer than you think.
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