Updated: Feb 15, 2019
This month we celebrated the first year anniversary of running our own business. When we decided to leave our 9 to 5 job to immerse ourselves in the magic world of entrepreneurship, we didn’t really know what to expect.
Looking back, I can say that we were probably reckless and impulsive. We didn’t really think carefully about all the pros and cons of giving up the security of the monthly pay-check in our bank accounts.
We were just sitting there, on our office’s desks, on a pretty normal - and shitty - Monday morning, when I said to Fede: “Hey, let’s do this!” and she replied to me without any hesitation “Yes, let’s f***ing do this!”. Suddenly We Are F was born.
Thinking of it now, I’d have probably planned it through more carefully, as I’m a control freak kind of person. But when something is the right thing to do, you just feel it inside and you just do it.
Here is a list of 11 lessons that we learned (and we are still learning) during this first year being our own bosses.
1 - You don’t always have to follow a traditional business set up.
When we began, we knew that we didn’t want to be a traditional digital marketing agency, even if we still didn’t have clear in mind what we wanted to be. While we were working on ourselves and our brand image, the path we had to follow just came naturally. We decided to focus on the F(emale) world and to work mainly with female entrepreneurs and female brands.
2 - Learn who to trust and, first of all, trust your gut instinct!
When you start something new, you also have to create a completely new network around yourself. During this year we met tonnes of new people and of course, we had a few letdowns. The good thing we’ve learnt from this is that it always happened when we had a bad feeling since the beginning about someone. Now we know that we can definitely trust our gut instinct!
3 - Create an environment that you’d like to work in, not what you think it should be compared to other business models.
If you follow our Insta page, you may have read about our “Office Of The Day” series. Basically, we don’t have an office. As we are based in London and renting an office around here is something beyond imagination for a small startup, we decided not to have one.
Coming from a corporate environment, we were scared of what people would think about two business owners not having their own office. When we started hanging around in coffee shops, especially the ones we talk about in this article here, we found out that this is not only a money saver, but it’s also a boost for our creativity and business.
We meet new people every day and we are always mentally stimulated by what we see around us.
4 - You’re allowed to feel stressed and overwhelmed, even if you’re the boss.
One day you feel at the top of the world and the day after you just feel awful. The entrepreneur’s life is a constant roller coaster, and you have to deal with it. Allow yourself to feel stressed and overwhelmed sometimes, you’re only human at the end of the day, but don’t let it consume you.
5 - You learn to be everything at the same time.
You become a marketing wizard, an incredible accountant, a brilliant salesperson, a nerdy IT guy. Everything, at the same time. The good part of it, is that you learn hundreds of new skills that you didn’t even think of (Me doing accountancy? Really?!). The bad thing is that, at a certain point, you realise that you can’t do everything by yourself. And here it is, that moment when you realise what is at point number 6.
6- You learn to delegate.
I have to say that it takes a lot of time and effort when you are a perfectionist and a control freak. You think that, doing it all by yourself, will minimise the risk of errors, but you couldn’t be more wrong.
It’s just not possible for just one person (or two, in our case) to do everything and to do it right. When you realise this and you realise that there’s plenty of super skilled people that can help you out, you feel relieved. You are now at the point of no return: you’ll learn that delegating what you’re not able to do will just help your business out.
7 - Two heads are better than one.
This applies perfectly in our case. We may share the same name, but when it comes to personal and work characteristics, we are quite at the opposite. We reckon that it’s a winning card: we bounce ideas off of each other, partner up on blog posts and content and give each other honest feedback on what we are doing, spot errors and anything missing from a particular project.
8 - You learn to take breaks (and you learn that you desperately need them).
When you stop to be a 9 to 5 gal, you never get to clock-out. We were experts at keeping our work life separate from our home life. When we walked out of those office doors at quitting time, we didn’t check our emails all the time or do anything work-related until we walked back in the next morning.
That clear delineation doesn’t exist for us anymore.
The benefit is that we now have a completely flexible schedule. If we want to take all of Wednesday off to visit that new exhibition at the Tate Modern, we can. But it also means we might be replying to emails and WhatsApp texts at 11 pm on a Saturday night. So it becomes vital for you, your business, your clients and especially your mental health, to take breaks and time for yourself sometimes.
9 - You learn to be patient: results just don’t happen overnight.
You wish they do, but the harsh reality is that T H E Y J U S T D O N ‘ T. Businesses that seem to have exploded onto the scene overnight usually have a backstory that includes years of grinding it out. We are learning to be patient. If you work on yourself and your business constantly, and without giving up, you’ll see results coming in. Once they do, don’t settle back, you need to brace yourself for the ride.
10 - Mistakes are inevitable - learn from them.
We've never run a business before, and although we've learned a lot of what to do and what not to do from others, mistakes are always waiting in the shadow. Don’t be scared of learning by trial and error, experiment to find your way of overcoming failure.
Inventor Thomas Edison, in reference to his experiments, once said: "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." But he did also murder elephants so maybe take his comments with a grain of salt...
11- Respect yourself as a business owner and your clients will respect you back.
In the beginning, we were a little timid about running our business. We were scared about raising the prices or about saying no to add a service for free if it wasn’t included in our original proposal (“While you are doing this, why don’t you also do that…”).
Now, I realize that we were doing a disservice to ourselves and to our clients. By not creating a clear process and resolute policies, it garnered confusion from customers and turned us into a freebie workhorse. If you want to succeed as a business owner, you must first respect yourself as a business owner. This means respecting your time, value, and expertise. Don’t waiver on the things that are important to you.
Do any of these lessons sound like you? If you’re a female entrepreneur and you’d like to share your story with us/be featured on our blog and Insta page, just drop us a line!