The word “entrepreneur” has taken on an almost-mythical meaning in the last few years. All of a sudden, everyone and their grandma is an entrepreneur, yet no one is clear on what the word actually means – and everyone wants to be one. Making it as an entrepreneur is apparently “the dream”.
A blogger can be an entrepreneur, as can the guy selling printed t-shirts at a stall at your local market. Products and offerings vary: a monthly subscription box can be the brainchild of an entrepreneur, as can a kickass fashion brand. Or a digital magazine, like the one you’re reading right now.
As the founder and editor of Vilda, I consider myself an entrepreneur – one who’s still learning, every single day, and already has a few stories to tell. Many of them are about sleepless nights, others are about early morning coffees over emails – but there are also the ones about exploring, trying new things, documenting, and creating.
A few truths that no one tells you about being an entrepreneur:
It’s 24/7, 365 days a year. You don’t get a day off, ever. Not at Christmas. Not on your birthday. Not even on your honeymoon. Of course you can take a break if you want, but your mind will be consumed with the state of things while you are away – or is that just me?
But it doesn’t matter. Because you are so crazily, madly, stupidly in love with your business that you actually want to be working on it around the clock. Even while your friends are out partying, you’ll be glad you stayed in to work on your idea. You’ll see yourself turning into that annoying workaholic before your own eyes, and you actually won’t hate it.
You really have to love your idea. While watching Dragons’ Den (that’s Shark Tank to you, my Stateside friends) I sometimes see the investors go completely batshit over someone who invented a little automated electric brush to clean stuff with, or a manhole-cover-opener, or similar little gems that society never knew it needed. And as much as I admire those rather resourceful inventors, I could never get up at 6am or work into the night to run a company that sells little electric brushes that you clean stuff with. I just wouldn’t love it enough, and the love, the passion, is crucial to my own personal brand of entrepreneurship.
You don’t have to succumb to competition. Every time I find an amazing vegan blogger, entrepreneur or magazine editor, I don’t stress out over their follower count versus ours, although that would be easy to do. What I do instead is contact them and ask if they want to work with us somehow, which usually results in beautiful content for Vilda. If I were freaking out about whether they are doing better than us, much of this magic might not have happened. Joining forces is better than competing!
You won’t get to quit job day job (straight away). Getting to a level where you can comfortably survive off your entrepreneurial activity is the dream, and dare I say it, the goal of most entrepreneurs. But – and this is a big but! – it’s likely to be years before you can hand in your notice. Luckily for me, I’m (almost) as in love with my 9-5 as I am with Vilda. If your daily grind is less of a joy, keep focused on your business advancing and keep your long-term goals in mind.
Your ideas are likely to take you places. In the above photo, I am about to enjoy one of the best meals I’ve had during my time in London – which I will review on this very magazine this week. I have also been to events and fashion shows, reviewed amazing products and embarked on adventures – and in a few months I’ll be jetting off to review a really exciting place. I’ve interviewed some of the most amazing people and worked on custom editorials. When you have an idea, you never know where it might lead you.
You will make lots of stupid mistakes. And you will beat yourself up, recognising that you could have avoided this mistake, or that mistake, that in reality you KNEW that this was a bad idea. You’ll learn from it. And guess what? In a while you’ll make another silly error. And you’ll learn from that too. The thing about entrepreneurship is that there isn’t a boss there to steer you in the right direction – and while being “your own boss” seems to be the collective dream of our society, let’s not forget that bosses are there for a reason: oftentimes, they keep you from messing up. A luxury you won’t have as an entrepreneur.
You will need to become a Jack of All Trades. As founding editor of this magazine, I am also its marketing manager, social media manager, partnerships manager, accountant (don’t forget this bit, filling out your tax return is a necessary evil if ever there was one) and creative director. All things I hope to outsource, at least to some point, in the future – but as an entrepreneur, you will find yourself doing it all to begin with. And to be honest, that’s the best way to learn.
Having said that, you can’t do go it alone. I am anything but a “solo-preneur”. In fact, this magazine would never exist without my international, multi-talented team who possess kick-ass skills that I don’t have, such as graphic design, digital marketing, social innovation, coding, hair and makeup, cooking, illustration and photography. They’re the backbone of the magazine, and without them, this would just be another vegan blog.
I won’t lie: the entrepreneur journey is difficult, filled with hard work and without the security of a regular paycheck. But building something of your own, carving out your own space in this world, is one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do.
This month I am reading...Join Me by Danny Wallace (insanely funny!)
This month I am watching…Suicide Squad, but only because I’m the biggest Jared Leto fan on the planet
This month I am listening to...Bleached’s album Welcome the Worms.
Photo by David Camilli