Check out four things I’ve heard from founders and entrepreneurs that have resonated with me.
1. The highs are really high, and lows can be really low.
I don’t mean to start this out uneasy, but it’s important to keep this in mind. When you start a company, it becomes a part of you, and you feel a sense of yourself within it. Yes, very corny, I know, but it’s so true! Especially at Speak2, I feel such a close bond helping residents and their caregivers because I’ve experienced this with my grandma and family.
Some moments give you the biggest high and sense of gratification – anything from you finally solving the bug in your product to pulling off a sick demo or closing that account you’ve been working on for months. However, each of these can apply to quite the opposite. You can’t find the bug. You think you did a terrible demo. That one prospect you wanted said no because they went with another provider.
I have no final piece on this except it’s true. I’ve found the most peace with this by accepting it, always giving my best, and giving myself some compassion when things don’t go as I planned. Trust yourself.
2. Be yourself.
I can’t tell you how many times my co-founder, Matt, has reminded me of this. There was a bit of time where I would tense up and turn into some robot during demos, introductions, etc. It was terrible! I was no longer Jillian. I was some wannabe Jillian who thought I needed to act a certain way. There is more to this, but that may be a more profound subject related to ageism and how I learned I should behave this way. Guess what. It’s not true and never was. Shame on ageism!
The beautiful thing about starting your company is you. You are the culture. You are a source of inspiration, and you find inspiration in other people and your work. It’s crucial to let your personality shine and tap into all the things that make you, you. It’s easy to get lost in your work, as I mentioned in point 1. You’re doing this because you believe in your product, and you believe in yourself—time to show it off.
3. It’s not your problem anymore.
Startups are fast-paced and high-intensity. When you are an owner, you want to be a part of each aspect. At times, you have no choice but TO BE every department. As you grow, this isn’t necessarily true… and can be challenging at times to accept. You must accept when things are not your problems or even when that problem is a priority. It’s called adulting. Just kidding, it’s called prioritization. What is going to make the most significant impact? Will this impact this very moment or will this impact you in 8 months? Do you fix a feature to solve the immediate one-time issue because a customer is complaining? Or do you examine why the problem is even occurring in the first place and build your product, so this never happens for another customer again? Instant vs. delayed gratification.
Guess what. You can’t fix every problem. No one expects you to.
4. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
This quote is from a mentor, and it couldn’t be more accurate. If I’m starting to get comfortable, I immediately evaluate what I am doing and where my priorities are. It’s very similar to the James Clear quote, “The biggest risk to productivity is always the same: working on the wrong thing.” And this typically ends up being the easier thing. Patience, optimization, and seizing opportunities as they come across is what truly reaps the rewards and gratification.
Back to what I was saying, every entrepreneur knows this feeling! Never written a marketing email? Never spent time q/a’ing a product before? Not in this life. Just because you haven’t done it and probably don’t know how to do it doesn’t mean you won’t do it. Our first reaction tends to be a ‘Whoa, hold on, I don’t know what I’m doing here,’ and when you’re in this space, you have no choice but to lean into this feeling. Feel it and believe in yourself, your team, and your mission.
I’ve learned many other things this past year, beginning my entrepreneurial journey, especially at Speak2 Family. I’m thankful to each person who has spent time with me answering silly questions, offering advice, and endless support.
Shout out to my amazing, incredible team at Speak2. I am excited to keep moving forward and bringing voice technology to more and more.