Lopa's Top 6 Tips for Entrepreneurs
Happy Women’s Entrepreneurship Day!
I admit: I’m frustrated that we live in a world where a woman entrepreneur is something exceptional.
How about just calling us...entrepreneurs? We don’t call them “man entrepreneurs,” do we?* The phrase itself looks ridiculous.
* btw if you start calling them “man entrepreneurs,” though, please do tag me. 😂
And yet, here we are. Women-owned businesses are exceptional compared to status quo. In my previous career, I was often one of less than five women in a room of a couple hundred people.
I love understanding the origins of holidays, and learned that Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WED) started in 2013 by a (seriously bada$$ woman) entrepreneur (@wendydiamond) who, after volunteering at an organization that provides microcredit to impoverished women in Guatemala, was “inspired to create a simplified movement in the world to empower women in business to alleviate poverty.”1
To be clear: my über-privileged run at entrepreneurship hardly compares to the true victories won by women pulling themselves and their communities out of poverty.
Being an entrepreneur is $&@%ing hard. And I say that as a stupidly-privileged white woman with ample access to resources and education.
Many women work against much greater odds.
Many of those achieve far greater changes.
And yet, the seed of entrepreneurship is this:
- Seeing a change you’d like to make happen in the world.
- Stopping at nothing to make it happen.
Yep, the ol’ “Be The Change” thing. It’s almost gotten trite with overuse, yet that is exactly what every entrepreneur out there is putting their heart and soul into doing—regardless of gender.
And each of us, depending on so many factors, will have a different angle on the change we want to see in the world, and what we’re willing or able to do to make it happen.
I saw a need to shift our culture’s dependence on coffee for energy, and replace it with something more holistically uplifting. It was a pretty simple core inspiration, really.
And the reason Rasa is actually making that sea-change (besides, of course, that whole “über-privileged white woman with ample access to resources & education” thing) fundamentally comes down to one thing that all successful entrepreneurs do:
YOU. JUST. KEEP. GOING.
I’ve had a lot of opportunities to give up...and in the woo-ier side of the wellness world, there’s a lot of subtle messaging around “If it isn’t easy, you’re not vibrating at a high enough frequency/your manifestation skills need mastering/your mood board color palette is vibing with a galaxy with a scarcity mindset.”
I’m sorry, but in my experience of entrepreneurship...that is complete and utter malarkey.
If you want to make a real change in the world, no matter how big or small, you’re going to be pushing against the inertia of the status quo. And the more innovative the thing you’re doing is, the more inertia YOU get to disrupt.
Which means: it’s gonna be hard.
And that’s OK.
ere’s some of my favorite 🤬 OMG WHAT THE HECK IS THIS CRAP🤬 moments from Rasa history, times when I was given ample opportunity to throw in the proverbial towel:
- Dec 2015: Started the business with my best friend, which happened to bring out the worst in both of us (thank the heavens, we both have high EQ and managed to work it out and still love each other dearly).
- 2016-2017: Spent 3-4 months with each of 3 co-packers who led me on to believe they would absolutely produce our product...and then bailed, for one reason or another (#complicatedoperations)
- 2017: Convinced by an agency (that essentially scammed us, #anotherstory) that we need to buy our own $20K grinder to grind our product. We used it 6 times before realizing our suppliers could do that for us. (Side note: anyone need an industrial hammermill?)
- 2018: Our first round of printed packaging was 4 months late, which meant that we hard-launched Rasa while I was working from my bed, postpartum with my 2nd baby (#worstpossibletiming)
- 2018-2019: Had to switch packaging suppliers 4 times in our commitment to compostable packaging. Any time I tell this to an entrepreneur with a packaged-goods company, their eyes widen and they shake their heads in sympathy. Packaging changes SUCK.
These are just the ones that easily come to mind. There were two other major OMG WHAT THE HECK IS THIS CRAP things just this month (within 24 hours of each other, no less. 😐). And countless others.
It’s not meant to be easy. And the fire of entrepreneurship is one of the most life-changing forces I’ve ever encountered—right on par with motherhood. It will change, mold, refine, challenge, uplift, define, inspire, destroy, and remake you.
And out of all of these things, I’ve learned some big lessons.
Here are my Top 6 Tips to Entrepreneurs (which also apply to ANYONE trying to make ANY change in the world, including your own life):
- BELIEVE IN YOUR VISION. You will be tested. Your faith in your vision is what will keep you going. I’m talking deep belief, like it’s arising naturally from within you, it’s part of the texture of your being and you feel an inherent and self-arising responsibility to make it real in the world
- IS THIS TRULY A GOOD IDEA? Test that belief. Are you doing something that the world (/your community) really needs? Is it somehow different than what everyone else is doing? To be honest, I see a lot of companies doing a tiny innovation on something that already exists: and that’s OK...but offering something truly unique and genuinely needed not only fortifies your belief, it also increases your chances of success.
- JUST. KEEP. GOING. 90% of startups fail. What’s truly the only difference between those who make it and those who don’t? The ones who make it kept going. When the money runs out, they figure out something—anything. The core spirit of entrepreneurship is adapting, in service of your belief in the change you want to see in the world.
- DON’T OVERINVEST IN UNTESTED ASSETS. A recent learning for me, after a series of putting TONS of work into things that just...flopped. No ROI on things that totally shoulda/woulda/totally coulda had ROI. The real problem is that we burned ourselves out when we invested too much time in them and they flopped. A better tactic? Test, iterate, improve.
- GET SUPPORT. The whole “it takes a village” thing is equally true with starting and running a business. You’ll need friends who will love on you when you need loving on. You’ll need smart people who have been there to give you tips along the way. You’ll need to hire people to do the things you suck at, when you can afford that. And of course, you’ll need some great habits to sustain you. (Might we suggest an amazing coffee alternative? 😉)
- TEND THE FIRE OF YOUR PASSION. 🔥 Think of it like your digestive fire, or any fire you’re stoking—you can’t just keep piling things on top of it, it’ll get smothered. But if you don’t feed it enough, you’ll lose the flame, too. Take rest when you need it. Gather inspiration from podcasts, conferences, brands you love. Be respectful of that holy spark within so that it can sustain for the long haul.
Thank you all for being part of this exciting and often-nail-biting process that is Rasa. Truly couldn’t do this without each of you (and especially, all your amazing emails telling us how Rasa has impacted your life!)
1https://www.womenseday.org/about-us/our-story/ accessed on 11/16/19
Author: Lopa van der Mersch