5 Hardest Lessons in Entrepreneurship This Year

Posted by Victoria Pillman on

Today is Victoria P Design Shop’s first business birthday and the end of my first year as an entrepreneur. This has been the most stressful, exhausting, exhilarating, and rewarding year of my life. All in all, I wouldn’t change anything.

If I could go back in time to give “2021 Tori” advice about what’s coming in this first year of business, here are the 5 things I would say:

  1. Be Flexible. In business and in life, plans can change quickly and you have no choice but to adapt. Machines break, deliveries are delayed, scheduling conflicts arise, and family emergencies are unavoidable. Remember who and what your priorities are and adjust your plans accordingly. Sometimes you’ll need to neglect one priority in order to be fully present for another. Both fortunately and unfortunately, the thing that gets dropped a few times this year is your business in order for you to show up for your family. That’s okay, there are certain seasons where growth in one area of your life is more prominent than another. One of the perks of entrepreneurship is flexibility in time and setting your own schedule. Enjoy it, but don’t abuse it.
  2. Ride the Wave. Even if you don’t feel ready, dive in. Right now, you’re feeling overwhelmed by fear of failure and a long list of launch week tasks. I get it, I remember it all so well. And to be honest, things won’t go flawlessly in the beginning. There will be several kinks to work out and you’ll need to give yourself a lot of grace and express a lot of gratitude to your first customers who are sticking it out with you. Opportunities you weren’t expecting will come quickly and you’ll need to jump in even if you feel unprepared. It’s totally normal not to know what you’re doing at first, but you’ll be glad that you decided to ride the wave instead of running away.
  3. Your Professional Integrity is Worth More Than $50. You know that phrase, “the customer is always right?” Please accept this quickly as gospel of the customer service industry and don’t fight it. Of course there are some limitations and boundaries that you can enforce to protect yourself, but please pick your battles. It’s incredibly rewarding to see a positive review from a satisfied customer and to know that you did everything in your power to make them feel valued. On the other hand, it’s disheartening to know that one bad review could cost you more in the future than a justifiable refund in the present. Weigh the costs and benefits of each outcome. Your professional integrity and reputation are worth more than a $50 refund.
  4. Aim for Progress, Not Perfection. Remove the phrase “practice makes perfect” from your vocabulary immediately. Perfection is an unrealistic expectation for anyone, especially for a first year entrepreneur. In fact, make as many mistakes as quickly as you can in this first year so that you figure out what works and what isn’t worth pursuing. Even though money is tight in the beginning, make space in your budget for waste and buy extra materials for practice and product development purposes. To err is human, accept it and work it into your plans.
  5. Be Intentional with Your Time Off. A wise person once said, a goal without a plan is just a wish. And that’s true, you will not meet your self care goals if you don’t schedule intentional time off from work. Burn out can creep up on you pretty quickly and going weeks without motivation to create or work will end up costing you more than taking a Friday afternoon off to relax and do something that makes you happy. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup so take care of yourself and take intentional breaks from work.

Thanks for a great first year and here’s to commemorating many more milestone moments together!


Written by Victoria Pillman, Owner of Victoria P Design Shop

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