Sunday, May 4, 2008
On the same day that I decided to start my company, which I knew would serve the modern, cosmopolitan aunt, I made lists. Lists are a good thing to create when you know you need to do something, but aren't sure what.
First, I created a list of things the company would do. Or be. Gosh it was so amorphous at this point. It would be a Website. There would be tips for being the best Auntie possible. There would be things to do - Aunties need ideas for what she could do with kids. And of course, there would be products and gift ideas. And community. In my very first day as an entrepreneur, on the list of things I wrote down of what needed to be included in my company, I included: Community. Aunties need to be able to connect with each other in order to learn from each other. Community. Remember that point. It's important.
The second list I made were of men and women, friends and acquaintances, I knew who were entrepreneurs. Right off the bat, I had a list of ten people. Without blinking, I knew ten people who could give me advice on entrepreneurship. Wow. That seemed like a lot at the time.
I spoke with them all in the two weeks following my list making. We met for coffee. At the gym. For lunch. For dinner. On the phone. On a street corner. At the bookstore. At their office. No matter where, what or how, each one made time for me. And they all had great advice. I learned something from each one of them. One thing I have learned is that entrepreneurs believe deeply in karma. They know that by sharing what they have learned from others - and on their own - with a newbie, something good will come back to them. These entrepreneurs should expect a lot of great things coming back to them.
I have all the notes. I kept them all in one book. They include brainstorms for names of the company (I went with another name in the end). Names of attorneys. Accountants. Graphic designers. Names of people these people were connected with. Lots of fantastic ideas. And not one negative word. Not one hint that I might have a challenge I could not overcome.
I not only got great advice and qualitative information, I also got tremendous support. Each smile, hug, "tell me more!," "let me know how else I can help," "I'll put you in touch with...," all of that meant I could wake up the next day feeling like I would one day be like them. One day, I would be a successful entrepreneur.
On both lists I made that day, I had listed Community. One was to serve Aunts. The other was a list of ten people in my life who became my community of entrepreneurs. Less than a year later, that list has grown to dozens more. Entrepreneurs introduced me to entrepreneurs. I found entrepreneurs on Facebook. On Twitter. Through networks like Ladies Who Launch and the Jeff Pulver Social Media Breakfasts. Sometimes I "met" entrepreneurs in books and magazines. And a few I just stumbled upon along the way.
What I have learned from these people is invaluable. I will try to repeat their lessons in this Blog as the posts move forward. And I'll add a few tips of my own.
I am much smarter and will be more successful because of the community of entrepreneurs who have helped and continue to help me every day. If you want to be an entrepreneur, ask another one for help. Some of you have even begun emailing me for advice (I laugh in humble irony). I am here to help. We are all part of a community. And that's what community does.
Remember that point. It's important.