I’ll be the first to admit that I’m extremely stubborn, or as I like to call it, extremely independent. I have never been one to ask for help and I’m even less likely to admit defeat. In fact, I used to think asking for help was a weakness, something that should only be used as a last and final resort.
And then I started a business…
Just over four years ago, after a wine soaked night with my best friend and now business partner, I took the biggest plunge of my life: I started my own business. The first two years were exciting but also terrifying. We poured what little we had in our savings into the business, not to mention all of our energy, heart and soul. I can’t even count on my fingers the number of people who told us it wouldn’t work, and those who told us we wouldn’t succeed. And even worse, the ones who straight up laughed at us or called our idea “cute.”
But as determined women do, we kept charging forward, ignoring the nay-sayers, the critics and even sometimes our own judgment. Even when our bank accounts started dropping scarily low, we kept putting one pink shoelace in front of the other…chasing our dream.
I remember those first two years so vividly – the excitement and terror – and even the nightmares that would wake me up in a sweat soaked haze – usually over money, stress or worse, the what ifs. While I loved what I was building and the person I was building it with, I was starting to come apart at the seams. I was maintaining a full-time PR consulting job to keep myself afloat (mainly so I could pay rent and buy food) while working day and night to build our little empire of pink shoelaces, and also trying to keep some kind of social life and relationship with my husband (who was then just a boyfriend).
The work and the stress just kept piling up and it was starting to take a toll on me and everyone around me. I was irritable, anxious and stressed out. I was snapping at my boyfriend far too often and becoming a version of myself that I just didn’t like. And then at what seemed like a breaking point, my then boyfriend, now wonderful husband taught me the importance of leaning on others and asking for help. He said he believed in me and would help me. He thought it was important that I focus on building my business.
I remember the talk, the offer, the kind words. All of it was weighing heavily on me. Could I really ask him for help? Say yes to help? Let someone else truly help me?
And while difficult, I finally caved in. I learned to accept help, lean on others and even ask for help from time to time. A skill I am continuing to work on each and every day. An important skill to have when starting or running a business.
And while the uncertainty and anxiety has largely passed, being a small business owner is difficult, even four years later. There are still struggles, tough conversations and difficult situations but now that I know how to lean on others, it doesn’t seem so bad.
So today, for the #LJInspired challenge, tell us, who do you lean on?
PS: the next time you want to comment on my “glamorous life” or make assumptions about what I do everyday (oh, you must workout like all day long)…I encourage you to take a closer look. Or worse yet, the next time you feel like telling me how lucky I am, just don’t. None of this came from luck. Just a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and pink shoelaces. And of course a little help from my friends.