My First Year As An Entrepreneur — 5 Lessons Learned

My parents were entrepreneurs, so I thought I knew exactly what to expect — operations, budgeting, sourcing and so on. The difference this time was that the investment, headache and heartache was first degree. As Gina (my business partner) and I started Avantūr, I wore what some might call my “startup goggles.” Similar to rose colored glasses. I wished, prayed and hoped that my experience would be different than others— that I would escape the usual hiccups and mistakes. Naive? Not really — just hopeful and a little brazen.

Gina, and I have worked tirelessly on our business for nearly a year now, and I would be remiss to not share what I’ve learned thus far. Take it or leave it, but I’m hoping my lessons will help aspiring entrepreneurs.

You need a good business partner.

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Launching a business by myself would have been gut-wrenching. My career in media only leaves me with nights and weekends to work on anything extracurricular. Fortunately, Gina’s skills complement mine, and together, we pull double-duty to accomplish more.

Support comes from the unlikeliest of places.

Honestly, some of your friends and family just won’t care — and really, that’s okay. Just remember why you’re starting a business in the first place — you’re probably not doing it for someone else. We were lucky to receive support from complete strangers. We’re in New York City’s Garment District, and strangers have been unforgettably helpful. New York’s (including Brooklyn) fashion scene has a pay-it-forward mentality in an effort to bring manufacturing back to U.S. shores.

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You’ll always need more money.

Yes — budget, save and spend wisely. Just know that it’s never enough. There will always be an unexpected cost — that’s just part of business. It doesn’t matter if you’re a startup or a market leader — there will always be something else to pay for.

Sales won’t come easy.

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I’ve never been much of a seller — I hate asking people to buy, and I loathe telling someone I have the best of something. I remember when we first launched product on our website — it was the inevitable, “Now what?” The only way we began to sell was by talking about the brand to everyone we knew — anyone who would listen. A new brand won’t sell itself, so you have to do the talking before others will.

There will be mistakes.

Sure, try to avoid them — just don’t beat yourself up when they happen. One time, Gina and I were racing against a production deadline, and we had less than an hour to place an order for fabric. If we hadn’t made the deadline, we would have been forced to wait weeks for the next order, which would have thrown off our production timeline. We made the deadline, but unfortunately, we ordered 5X the fabric needed.

All said, starting a business is the best decision I could have made. The ups and downs have given me so much to look forward to. I wanted a new challenge in life, and this is a challenge that keeps on giving.

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