The Top 5 Lessons I learned in my First Year of Starting a Business
Everyone told me - entrepreneurship comes with its highs and lows. I knew this, I expected it, and I’ll tell you what, it’s VERY true. I have days where I am over the moon excited, and then days where I haven’t the slightest idea of what to do next. As a first-time founder, I wanted to share the top 5 lessons I have learned in my first year of starting a business, in an industry I knew nothing about… during COVID.
- Patience - I came from fast paced tech environments, where everything needed to be done yesterday. This is not the case with consumer goods, and particularly wine. My patience has never been more tested than it has this year. Whether it was waiting for our alcohol license to come in, or for a retail partner to get back to us (5 unresponded emails), or for the next available canning date; my patience has been put to the limit. The adage is true though, patience is bitter, but the fruit is sweet. When that retail partner finally responds, it feels so good to have persevered and to see the wines on the shelves. That being said, not everything needs to be done yesterday, and if you keep laying the groundwork for success, you will see it come through in the end.
- Keeping the momentum - Starting a business requires a rekindling of momentum over and over again. Three weeks after launch, I found myself totally unmotivated. The high of seeing our product come to life had run out, the monotony of quarantine hit, and I was feeling stuck. I needed to kickstart my momentum again, so I took a 48 hour complete break from work, and replenished myself by taking time for myself. Sometimes it requires taking a step away for a moment, being kind to yourself, and refueling yourself in order to find that momentum again.
- Celebrate the journey - When starting a business, it’s easy to constantly think about the next step. It’s important to celebrate the milestones, as small as they may seem to you. Celebrate the first sale, the new hire, the 100th Instagram follower. They may seem small at the time, but they matter, and they are all steps along the journey to the “bigger picture.” At Just Enough, we start our weekly team meetings with wins from the previous week. They can be personal or work related, and you can shoutout someone else or yourself, but we try to focus on the wins every week.
- Hire smart, enthusiastic people - Hiring awesome people is by far the most important way to drive the business forward. Finding my co-founder was a step change for the business, it allowed me to have someone to bounce ideas off of, motivate me, and take on the enormous amount of responsibility. Beyond that, finding people to help drive awareness, which I will admit is not my strongest area, has been incredibly important. I have been so impressed with the creative thinking of the team I have brought on, and believe they have really helped shape the voice of Just Enough.
- Ask for help - I knew nothing about the wine industry before starting Just Enough except that I loved drinking wine. The most important thing I have done to drive the business forward is to ask for help. Whether it was reaching out to a random person on LinkedIn, or asking a close friend for a connection, every time I asked for help, people were more than willing, and it allowed us to move the business forward faster.
I am so grateful for the last year with Just Enough. It has been the most rewarding and fulfilling work I have done. I took a big leap, and while we’re still an infant startup, I couldn’t be prouder of what we have achieved. Entrepreneurship is hard, but so worth it. For anyone thinking about taking the leap - DO IT. We’re here to support you.