How to Be An Entrepreneur in Five Lessons

Yesterday I met with a girlfriend getting ready to jump into her first (or at least biggest) entrepreneurial endeavor. Tomorrow I’m presenting to high school kids on the same subject. How did I become a knowledgeable resource on the topic?!

Oh that’s right, I’m practicing:

Lesson one – fake it ‘til you make it.

I’m great at that!!

As I started collecting notes for tomorrow’s session, I was embarrassed. My current business isn’t bringing in the big bucks and I’ve only got myself to blame. How could I present myself as a success story when I know exactly what I’m doing wrong? Then I put together this slide:


I left out any lemonade stands and pool-cleaning schemes of my true youth (and MTOD got it’s own slide), but if you look at my list of projects I’ve tried (or at least seriously considered), I’ve definitely got entrepreneurship in my blood. I think my parents help put it there. I remember my dad telling me I should just walk down the street on summer weekends with the lawnmower and knock on doors.

But some things never change. Just like my response to dad’s suggestion, I find Mark the Occasion Designs to be too much work I’m not really interested in.

Lesson two – you need to be passionate about the mission if you’re going to live and breathe it for the rest of your life (or at least enough time to see if it can grow).

If you look at my history, you’ll see that I have some common threads floating through my ideas.

  1. Teach people something.
  2. Share food (particularly of the chocolate variety.)
  3. Make a lasting impact.

I see that and immediately jump to “OK, what do I do with that? Do I sell cookies to grocery stores and local shops? Do I teach people how to bake in their own homes? Do I start a nonprofit that teaches poor women in Africa how to sell their yucca brownies to hipsters in Manhattan?”

Then I take a deep breath to remember:

Lesson three – patience, young grasshopper.

Rome was not built in a day. Neither was the Fairy Tale Brownie Company or Noonday Jewelry  nor Haleybird Studios. I am currently enjoying yoga teaching, blog writing, and growing an Eggroll. I’ve got plenty on my plate and am in a fortunate position that we’re not relying on a traditional paycheck from me to keep the lights on. For now, it is enough to make notes and see what sticks. To not make another rash decision and jump into another business venture causing me to lose even more of my street cred. But then there is:

Lesson four – don’t care what other people think, because they probably don’t have an opinion.

Or if they do, it’s probably “wow, (YOUR NAME HERE) is crazy/bold/super cool/nutballs for trying these ideas out. I’m impressed (s)he’s willing to take the risk.” They probably aren’t as concerned about your LinkedIn profile or bank statements, at least not as long as you don’t put their credibility at risk.

I guess this post is just to say that I’m more impressed with where I am today than I was at the start of this week and I bet you would think the same thing of yourself if you gave it some thought. I’ve got a lifetime to figure out my purpose. I’ll get there.

Lesson five – so will you. Best of luck on your journey, friends!


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