This co-founder says she’s learned more in her two years launching a startup than she did working for nearly a decade at corporations.
Let me start by saying what no one else wants to tell you when you want to start a new company; buckle up, you are about to get on the rollercoaster ride of your life.
When you jump into entrepreneurship, you think your new journey is that of becoming a “founder.” When, in fact, the title of founder does not adequately sum up the complexity and diversity of the roles you are about to need to fill for yourself, your team, and your company. Becoming a founder also means you have to become a little bit of everything: part accountant, lawyer, HR, recruiter, project manager… the list goes on. The expression “wearing many hats” doesn’t do it justice. It’s more than a lot of different hats!
In working to fill the variety of roles that being a founder encompasses, I’ve learned that it calls for more than merely expanding your knowledge in different fields. What can be even more valuable, or at least has been for me, is developing and nurturing different parts of your personality and to work on “you” just as much as you work on the business.
Starting Reel has been one of my favorite adventures in life. I wake up every day and I know it’s going to be a great day, because I’m doing this. I’m not going to lie, some days I’m absolutely exhausted, but I can tell you for sure that I’ve learned more in two years running this company than I did during my 8+ years working in corporate. With all the learning comes a lot of evolution, particularly on a personal level since developing certain personality traits helps you become a better founder.
Here are the five personality traits (and, being a bit crazy doesn’t hurt either) that have been the most important for me to develop and nurture as I work towards scaling my company:
This is key! The more confident you are, the stronger and more powerful you feel. No one will bring your idea better to life than you. No one knows your numbers better than you. You are killing it and you’ll make happen whatever you set your mind to. Own your ground.Stand tall. And as long as you truly know your weaknesses and strengths as a company and are able to articulate them, you are golden.
WARNING: Being confident does not mean you get to be a know-it- all. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Because having self-confidence also means you are confident enough to take advice, handle criticism with grace, and learn from others. Be sure to listen to others and assess how you can apply your learnings. Self-confidence will allow you to develop a clearer path towards your vision.
You have to be comfortable with uncertainty, and ready to recover quickly from difficult conditions.
A startup is full of ups and downs: 8 a.m. open your computer, the site is getting great traction, the numbers are amazing, everyone is happy. 12 p.m. the login page breaks, your users start calling you in panic, you have to hold it together and work with the development team to find out what went wrong while the marketing team is dealing with angry users. 4 p.m. hits and the development team fixes the issue. 5 p.m. you send emails and call users to let them know everything is up and running. 6 p.m. is all back to normal, conversion is back to normal and users are sending emojis with loving eyes. 7 p.m. you get to work on all the things you couldn’t do because you where busy managing the fire.
You’ve got to be able to roll with those kinds of ups and downs, and even to enjoy them.
Your “why” is the most important thing, the “what” might change, but if there is a strong reason why you are building your platform, then you’ll always go an extra 50 miles to see your vision come to life. In my case, I’ve always been passionate about the relationship between people and money. Like many, I have a good taste for things, but not a pocket deep enough to fulfill my purchases.
Most of all I hate unnecessary debt. It’s a terrible burden and it frustrates me how finances in this country are so driven towards getting people into debt. That’s why I created Reel, to empower people to achieve their aspirations while avoiding unnecessary debt.
That exact sentence is written on a board behind my desk, so we never forget why we do what we do.
This was a hard one for me (really hard). You have to be patient to do the research, patient to get to product/market fit, patient with your team, patient with your investors. In a nutshell, patience is absolutely necessary on every level. Being able to manage emotions and expectations is a big advantage in the startup world; remaining calm in the face of frustration or adversity is a must.
You have to be honest with yourself… no one is good at everything! Know what you’re really good at, and more importantly, be comfortable with acknowledging your weaknesses. This will help you identify the best people for your team. One of the biggest responsibilities of being a CEO is to make sure you build a strong, positive, and confident team. Having a strong sense of self-awareness allows you to understand other people, how they perceive you, and as a result, you’ll be able to communicate better.
Piece of cake right?!
It may be a challenge, but I’m learning so much along the way and I wake up every day singing, and with a smile on my face, knowing that I’m owning the path that I’ve chosen for myself. This adventure is mine—and with the help of others—I do believe that I have what it takes to make it happen!