Being a business owner has a lot of perks, and often from the outside looking in it seems like the obvious career path. I mean, who doesn’t want to be their own boss and call all the shots? There were a lot of things I didn’t know or figure out until I was knee-deep in running Kortni Jeane. For some reason no one seems to talk about the nitty-gritty of being an entrepreneur!
Here are five things no one tell you about starting your own business that you should know before you dive in head first.
1. Day-to-day tasks aren’t as glamorous as they may seem
Often when someone thinks about running their own business, they imagine doing all of the “fun” parts of the job. While that is definitely a part of being a business owner, it’s a very small portion. A lot of being a business owner is completing all of the “not-so-fun” or “mundane” tasks. I love being creative & designing new swim lines, planning for & running photoshoots and interacting with my social media followers. But what people probably don’t realize is that often my day-to-day tasks don’t involve any of those things. Everyday at Kortni Jeane is extremely different, but being an online-based business I spend a lot of my days behind a computer. I may be answering emails, updating the back-end of the website to make sure everything's running smoothly, or keeping customers up-to-date and informed. I also spend much of my time sitting through long production and design meetings to make sure what I envision ends up in customers hands!
2. You won’t be an instant success
What a lot of people don’t know about me is that I never planned on being a business owner. There were so many careers I had set my eyes on but none being a swimsuit designer running her own show! Kortni Jeane was definitely a hobby that was fun side-gig. After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in Fashion Design + Business Management, I had a lot of job opportunities I was choosing between. It was a hard decision, but with so many orders knocking on my Etsy door, and much encouragement from my family and friends I was convinced that I needed to make Kortni Jeane more than just a hobby. I moved home to my parent’s basement, put all my savings into my first production run through a factory I had created a relationship with while living in LA, and put my education to work!
I say all of this to to show that I was in no way an instant success. It’s taken time (years!), deviating from my original plans, working late hours of the night, and a lot of faith & guts to build Kortni Jeane into the business it is today. And that being all said, I am still learning and growing! Business success rarely happens overnight but if you put everything you have into building your company, the hard work will eventually pay off.
3. You’re going to fail
I feel like I have had more failures than most (so that makes me more experienced right?! ha). I started Kortni Jeane as a college grad with no “real world” experience in running a business, so there was bound to be many mistakes along the way. I am personally grateful for the failures I had. It’s forced me to learn quickly and problem solve—there isn’t much time for being sad or upset if I mess up! I now know a lot of things that do and don’t work for my business, and it takes away a lot of the trial and error that I had to do in the beginning. My failures have also taught me some of my weaknesses as a business owner, and I’m continually learning to overcome those to be more successful.
I’ve also had a lot of mentors that have been with me since the beginning and along the way that have given me invaluable advice and help— especially when I have experienced a failure. Leaning on other’s knowledge has been crucial to learning from & avoiding mistakes. So, don’t get too down if you make mistakes. Learn to fail fast so you can keep moving forward.
4. Work will never leave you
I often hear that people want to start their own company so they can set their own hours, vacation when they want, and have the freedom that a corporate job doesn’t give them. While there is some truth to that… it is more accurate to say that you will never work more in your life by being a business owner—especially at the beginning (which can last for many years). They say a true entrepreneur is the only person willing to work 80 hours a week to eventually avoid the 40 hour week. To anyone thinking of starting their own business: be prepared for a never-ending work schedule. It calls for early mornings, late nights, and any spare moment you have in between will go towards running the show.
My husband, Nico, and I both own separate businesses. We are insanely busy and have limited time to spend together. Because of our tight schedules, we’ve learned it’s important to take time to ourselves every once in while. When we do find time, we can’t ever truly ‘escape’ work because we have to keep up on emails, answer employee questions and make sure that everything isn’t completely run down by the time we return. Neither of us want to get burnt out, so we make sure to celebrate our small victories together because we can’t always take long, elaborate trips to escape. We mostly celebrate with food, because I love food. :)
5. “Learning on the job” takes on a whole new meaning
Starting a business means taking on every single role that a larger company may have. That includes marketing, design, production, HR, creative, operations, office manager, customer service, CEO, janitor… etc. You get what I mean. Starting Kortni Jeane, I didn’t know how to do a lot of these jobs right off the bat even, though I went to school for many of them (and I’m still learning as I go!). You just have to wear multiple hats and figure things out as you go.
For instance, when I first started Kortni Jeane, I thought Instagram was just a photo editing app. Boy, was I wrong. Through trial and error I figured out how big of an impact Instagram could have on my business. Once I understood the concept, Kortni Jeane was able to grow tremendously! It still continues to be the biggest driver in sales and marketing.
I think one of my biggest “learning on the job” moments was taking the step of moving Kortni Jeane out of my basement and adding employees to help me. I didn't know I was such a control freak until I was faced with the fact that I couldn't do it all on my own. I had gotten so used to doing things alone that adding a KJ Team was extremely daunting at first. I had my way of doing things and wanted it done that certain way. But as I let go little by little, I’ve been able to entrust my employees with different aspects of my company, which gives me more room to do the design & production of swimsuits. I now love the ideas I am able to throw around between my team. We are all working together to make Kortni Jeane the best we can.