I’ll be the first to admit; I’m not your typical entrepreneur.
I never dreamed of owning my own business. I didn’t wake up one day with that Big Idea. I was a single mom working for a large, stable company, and while the hours were insane, my pay appeared in my checking account every other Friday. Can we say risk-averse?
I had no business starting a business.
There were so many warning signs that I ignored, signs I shouldn’t quit my day job and strike out on my own.
- I was shy, introverted even, with no concept of how to promote myself, let alone my product or my business.
- I was too old (the wrong side of forty).
- I didn’t have the often advised six-months-worth of living expenses in the bank.
- I knew nothing about business–sales, marketing, accounting, HR. Nada. Zip.
I started calling myself The Resistant Entrepreneur because The They-Dragged-Me-Into-This-Kicking-And-Screaming Entrepreneur didn’t exactly roll off the tongue. But resistant was, and remains, a terrific adjective. I resisted anything that smelled of “this is the way things are done”. I resisted each and every attempt by others to mold me into a typical CEO. I resisted doing the basic, fundamental things a small business owner needs to do because I either didn’t want to, didn’t know how, or was just too plain scared to do them.
I was wrong more often than I was right.
Year one for Trident was a roller coaster ride. On the ascent, we grew to fourteen employees and realized $1,000,000 in revenue, more because of luck than any business acumen of mine. Then, came the financial crisis and the stomach-turning plummet down, culminating in us having to let go all employees except one. Suddenly, we were struggling for survival, yet I was still resistant to the important things I needed to do for the company. The company suffered. We treaded water but didn’t even begin to recover and grow for three very painful years.
And yet, as we get ready to celebrate our tenth anniversary on August 31st:
- Trident Technologies, the company I started at my kitchen table in 2006, now has locations in nine different states.
- Last year, we were #68 on the Inc. 5000’s Fastest Growing Companies List.
- And, craziest of all, would-be entrepreneurs are asking me for advice.
They asked me what I wished I knew before I started the business.
A few months ago, I sat on a panel at a conference with other women business owners, discussing lessons learned. A member of the audience asked: “What do you wish you knew then that you know now?”
Thankfully, I was the last one to respond. There wasn’t a single golden nugget–there was a whole goldmine. My answer? “How much time do y’all have?” Because after ten years, the sheer amount of things that fit into the What-I-Wish-I-Knew category was staggering.
In those three years, I learned the vital elements to running a successful and growing company, the things to pay attention to, and the things that aren’t really that important. When to resist, and when to push back against any resistance. That’s what I offer here, those golden nuggets of knowledge I wish I had before I quit my nice, cushy job (albeit with eighty-hour weeks) that made every direct-deposit and had benefits.
What would you like to hear about most? Once a week I’ll answer a reader’s question.