Five Lessons I’ve Learned as a Young Female Business Owner (That Apply to Non-Entrepreneurs Too)
In thinking about how to kick off The Scoop, I wondered where might be the best place to start. I considered leading off with The Pudding Truck’s origin story (which I can certainly detail, but mostly just involves having a crazy idea and letting it snowball into an actual business), but for some reason that felt a little too expected. Then I thought that perhaps if the purpose of this blog is to share with you insights from the “woman behind the truck”, why not start off with the position in which I find myself today (a young female business owner) and what I’ve learned along the way? Of course, I don’t think that this is a complete list (spoiler alert for lesson #5), but regardless, I figure it’s not a bad place to begin.
Hidden Challenge Words: Pie Crust.
1. Even as a leader, be a team player
When The Pudding Truck first opened in 2014, I handled most of the operations on my own. From making all of the product, to booking gigs, to slinging pudding at every event, there was very little that didn’t fall squarely on my shoulders. A lot of people with small businesses will advise you to do as much as you can by yourself in order keep costs as low as you can. But to me, that was a recipe for burning out really quickly. And the scariest part was having absolutely no idea what kind of support I needed. Over the years, with great advice from more experienced folks and a lot of trial and error, I learned how to assemble a fantastic team to help bolster the business as it grows. I can’t emphasize enough how much figuring out what kind of support I need, learning how to find it, and understanding how to utilize and nurture that team has done for me both professionally and personally. Even outside the world of entrepreneurship, learning how to effectively ask for help and where to turn for it is invaluable.
2. Be graceful, be gracious, be grateful
Be graceful in your decision-making. After whatever quiet deliberation you need, make choices steadfastly. Certainty is contagious and not only does it encourage those around you to act with assurance as well, but it also helps them feel more confident about working with you in the first place. Be gracious in your treatment of everyone you work with from employees to colleagues to advisers. I’ve heard countless times that in business you have to do whatever it takes to succeed, but to me that doesn’t include burning bridges. Sadly, I’ve learned that respect and compassion can be hard to come by, but operating under the golden rule has allowed me to create enduring relationships with folks who treat me the way I’d like to be treated. Be grateful for everything. Don’t get me wrong, running a business is hard work. But it’s also an immense privilege to be able to bring your own visions to fruition. Don’t take that for granted.
3. Get ready to be simultaneously always and never free
Apart from when I started out and worked myself completely to the bone, I’ve found that owning my business means that I have the ability to dictate my own schedule. Because of my aforementioned phenomenal team, and the fact that they can handle a lot of the day to day tasks, I have flexibility when it comes to when and where I work. So for the most part, if I want to make time in my schedule for something that isn’t work-related, I’m often technically “free”. But mentally, emotionally, and technologically, I’m very rarely actually “free”. I’m constantly checking in on things, thinking about what needs to be done, and corresponding with a million different people. Because of smartphones and Wifi, I have the plasticity to do that from most anywhere I like, but I’m still tapped into what’s happening with The Pudding Truck virtually all the time because I care and because its success is important to me. So it’s a trade off. A simultaneous major luxury and hefty burden. And that’s probably not for everyone, so if it’s something you’re thinking about pursuing, give that some consideration.
4. Don’t be intimidated by being intimidating
This is really where the “female” part of “young female business owner” comes into play. I’ve heard from other businesswomen in my life that they’re constantly being told that they’re intimidating. Like with any position that affords a woman agency and control, there are going to be people made uncomfortable by that perceived power. I’ve talked to women who worry that that perception makes them less attractive or desirable. I’ve also personally felt like others would view me as pompous or pretentious because I’m my own boss. But I’m here to tell you (and to an extent, remind myself) that that’s silly. Most people who are worth their weight won’t feel that way, and those who do probably aren’t worth your time. Work with and surround yourself outside work with people who value you for your ambition and don’t view it as a threat. Success is not a limited resource, and worthwhile people recognize that, so don’t be embarrassed by being a badass.
5. There will always be more to learn
It’s pretty simple, but in business you are never done learning. You may start to get the hang of things, become more efficient at your daily tasks, and streamline the way you like to get things done, but there will always be things you can change for the better. Every person you work with, every mistake you make, and every problem you solve are all opportunities for growth. So embrace those challenges, try not to let the big ones drag you down, and remember that everyone you meet can bring something to the table. A business is almost like a living thing that you feed hard work and nurture with new ideas. And what better way to come up with new ideas than to soak up experience and embrace every opportunity to learn?
So there you have it! Hopefully that was somewhat interesting and maybe even a little helpful. I’m excited to engage with the pudding posse in this new way, so let me know if there are other topics in which you’d be interested! I’m cooking some up myself too, so stay tuned.
Peace and pudding, Carrie