September is Allee Creative’s official birthday month and even though we have been celebrating all year, the team and I threw a 10-year anniversary party for some of our fabulous friends, colleagues and clients last night at Rojo in St. Louis Park. In preparation for the evening’s event, I spent some time thinking about the past 10 years and what I wanted to say to everyone there.
Although I didn’t get a chance to say these things at the event, I did have a few notes prepared. Because, even though 10 years is a great accomplishment, I rarely stop to think about what Allee Creative has become. I’m constantly moving on to the next thing. It’s the entrepreneurial life. And if you are an entrepreneur, you’ll likely relate to what I’m about to tell you.
So, instead of a speech about how Allee Creative came to be, or the hundreds of people that have been such a great support along the way (all valid stories and really, thank you to all of you who have impacted our success) I am taking this milestone anniversary as a chance to help others. To offer a bit of advice. Some of these things I learned the hard way and wish I had known before jumping in. I have all sorts of stories of trials and tribulations, but I narrowed my list down to 10…for 10 years.
10 things they never tell you about starting a business
1. You will take things personally. People will tell you not to, but it happens. You will. Try and shake it off. There will be bad days, but the great days will outweigh them, I promise.
2. You will need to learn to ask for help. This is still a hard lesson for me to learn. But the thing is, people will. They are happy to help—just ask.
3. Own what you’re good at and let others do the rest. Accounting. Legal contracts. Taxes. These are the things you need to do, but can also be time sucks. Invest in experts early on. It’s worth it.
4. You will cry. A lot. You’ll cry about frustrations. You’ll cry about successes. You’ll cry because you’ve worked 14-hour days and just want to stay in bed for 3 days in a row to make up for it. Let yourself cry but don’t wallow in it. Tomorrow will always be a better day.
5. You will need to say no. By instinct, many of us want to say yes to it all. I’m a total yes person. Saying no is OK. It’s healthy. Be OK with no once in awhile.
6. It’s lonely. It doesn’t matter if you work in a home office or in a building together with your team. Entrepreneurship can be lonely. But, you will also make friends in unexpected places. In connections with clients. During overnight business trips. During the networking lunches you squeeze in. Set boundaries quickly and put yourself out there to make time for friends and family whenever you can.
7. You will need to fight harder as a woman. Do it. Stick to your intuition. Fight for what you know you can do and bring to the table. Believe in yourself and others around you.
8. It’s not always as sexy as it sounds. We can’t all be Silicon Valley startups with venture capital backings. You will ugly cry (see point #4), you will take conference calls in your sweats, you will work in bed with sore throats and fevers, and you will be counting your pennies to buy Ramen Noodles for dinner during the first year or two (think college, but without the hangovers). Sexy is overrated. It’s still all worth it.
9. People will try and take advantage of you. Stick to what you know, what you believe in, and why you started in the first place. Don’t lose sight of you.
10. Dream bigger and keep pushing yourself. I never thought I would grow a company outside of the Twin Cities area—in the beginning, I was happy with 2 clients in a 30-mile radius. And now I have a team. And an international list of clients. Push the envelope. It’s worth it.
I am proud to have made it 10 years with this company and can’t wait to see what the next 10 will bring. Thank you to my team–past and present–for being wonderful. For our clients for trusting us with their brands. And to my family, for always believing in me. #AlleeTurns10