Some people discover their calling at a young age. They instinctively know that they want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or some other profession. I am not one of those people. Finding my voice as a brand and marketing consultant and becoming an entrepreneur has been an unexpected journey.
I never considered starting my own business as an option for my future in my formative years. I knew very few people who owned businesses and entrepreneurship was always presented to me as something that was not worth the risk. It wasn’t safe.
Even if I wanted to become an entrepreneur, I would have had no idea where to begin.
I grew up among the corn and soybeans in a small town called Morenci, which is on the Michigan side of the border of Ohio. After high school graduation, I studied communications and graphic design at Siena Heights University in Adrian. I enjoyed writing and design, and the program allowed me to focus on both areas of interest. Once I received my degree, I worked as a graphic designer for many years. I loved helping organizations improve their image as I felt that design was great way to help a business set itself apart from its competition.
A few years into marriage, my husband told me that he wanted to start a heating and cooling company. “Why would you want to do that?” I asked. I must have looked at him like he was crazy because I’ve rarely been able to hide what I am thinking.
After a LOT of discussion, we finally took the leap. I was involved in the brand development and marketing for the company, as well as helping to manage the office. I learned a lot about what it takes to run a business and I realized that entrepreneurism wasn’t only a viable path, it was also challenging and fun.
Fast forward 15 years, and that’s when I met my current business partner, Sarah Stanley, through a mutual client. We both felt that we brought a fresh perspective to marketing that would be beneficial to many organizations. We also have complementary skills and personality traits that blend well together.
This time, the decision was easier. I had lived entrepreneurism for 10 years. It wasn’t a big, scary, unknown thing anymore. Now it was an opportunity to build something new. With five dollars in the bank and a twinkle in our eye we started a new venture together called Hoyden Creative. In the five years since, we’ve built a company that has attracted uber-talented people and won its clients’ international marketing awards.
These five years have been some of the most wonderful, frustrating, demanding, and exciting years of my life. As I look back on my journey, learning has been a major catalyst. I have gleaned from the mistakes and success of others as well as from my own bad decisions. Here are a few other things I’ve found learned along the way:
You don’t have to have all the answers. You just need to know who does. A trusted network of advisors, consultants, and vendors is an invaluable asset to an entrepreneur. Learning happens at a rapid rate when you are growing a business, so approach it with a willingness to seek advice.
It’s okay to be afraid of failure. Starting a business involves a certain level of risk. And with any risk-taking venture, there is a chance that you will fail. Even after you launch your business, you may still carry that fear with you. I know that I do. I recently listened to an interview with Steve Madden, founder of a $3 billion shoe brand, who said he still worries that he might go out of business nearly every day.
It’s not what really matters. Our work is important, but it should never come at the expense of important relationships in life. At the end of my life, I’m 100% positive that I will not look back and wish I had spent more time at the office, closed more deals, or made more money. Keeping that in perspective can be hard when your business is growing rapidly, and I haven’t always been successful at this, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s true.
Entrepreneurship is for those who have the courage to try something scary when the chances of failure are seemingly high. I hope my story encourages the passionate and motivated to find their own path. Maybe it’s starting a business or writing a book. Perhaps it’s raising a family or homeschooling your kids. Whatever your path, be willing to take a risk and you just might accidentally find something amazing.