Thought Leadership

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Five Things I Wish I’d Known Before Starting My Business? How About a Zillion?

by | January 23, 2024

I was recently interviewed for an article in Authority Magazine asking business leaders to list five things they wished someone had told them before they jumped off the cliff of starting or leading a business. I had a tough time coming up with only five when there are at least 25 things I would have loved to have known. This request got me thinking about those early days of my agency, Base Beauty Creative Agency™, and I concluded that even if someone had told me, I might not have heard or heeded that advice at the time. I think you have to live through each challenge to really grasp the lesson it teaches you. Maybe it would have saved me some surprises and some pain. I know that “look-out-for” warnings would not have dissuaded me. I was driven, as I think most entrepreneurs are—driven or a little crazy or both.

In my book, Facing the Seduction of Success, I talk a lot about the speed bumps—including the ones that felt like speed mountains—that I have personally faced and those shared by guests on my podcast, Where Brains Meet Beauty. Many guests are entrepreneurs who have navigated some of the same speed bumps I have. Looking back, I focus on what those challenges taught me. One of the overarching lessons has to do with forcing solutions and ignoring red flags, common for an ambitious entrepreneur. In the early days, these situations were often related to clients who tried not to pay us contracted fees or were disrespectful in other ways, signals that today I pick up instantly. Other early-on warnings I should have seen were personnel issues—trying to work with staffers who didn’t live up to our agency values and making excuses for them to avoid a confrontation and the unpleasant task of replacing them.

The cliché “no pain, no gain” comes to mind—I’ve learned much more from solving those problems than I would have if the road had been smooth and hazard-free. Aleni Mackarey, Ph.D., MS, and COO of Base Beauty, and I often giggle (easy to do in hindsight) about our rookie mistakes, yet we bless them for how they have propelled us forward.

Message our CEO with your thoughts: What was a memorable challenge on your career journey? If you had been warned about it, would it have helped? What did you learn?