Whoa, hello there friends! It’s been a hot minute since I’ve written a post on here! Thanks for being patient with me while I worked out the logistics of balancing my life. I’m now back at school and although my workload is heavy I do actually have more free time to spend on writing stellar content, so that’s what I’m here to do!
As I said, this year I decided to go back to school for entrepreneurship at one of the colleges in Toronto. I just finished my first week and oh my goodness – what a ride it has been! I literally went to school two days this week because of the holiday Monday (I only have classes Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, hollaaaaa) and I’ve already learned so many amazingly applicable things that I’ll absolutely be implementing for my business, and some things that may not be as applicable to my business but still relevant nonetheless. 😉 Here’s the rundown from week one.
1. 5:00am wake up is the worst, but there are some positives to it!
Let’s just get this out there into the world – I am NOT a morning person. I hate waking up early and I’m at my most productive around 10:00pm-2:00am. Pretty sure I get that from my grandma, who’s in her mid-80s and still stays up till 2 every night! The point is, when I realized I had to get up at 5am in order to make the commute from the suburbs into the city for my 8am classes, I was not impressed in the slightest. I’m pretty sure the moment I realized this, I spent about 20 minutes ranting to my boyfriend on the phone about how society is catered to morning people and the world sucks – very dramatic, I know (but is it not a little bit true though?).
When I actually had to do it this week though, I had an incredibly odd experience. I actually enjoyed being out and about before the sun came up! The actual waking up part was a struggle, there’s no fooling anyone there. But there were no cars, no people on sidewalks cutting me off, nothing like that. The train station I go to is also right on Lake Ontario, so I get a pretty nice view of the sunrise while waiting for my train!
Am I a fully transformed morning person? Absolutely not, I slept in till about 10:30 this morning and have no shame about it. However, do I think waking up early is much more doable than I originally had anticipated? When you’re excited about what you’re doing and want to get up and work and learn, absolutely!
2. Network, network, network – and do it properly!
Ahh, networking. The dreaded word that our introverted sides absolutely cringe at. Girlfriend, if that’s you, just know I’m totally with you on that one. I love networking with other bloggers and such online, but when it comes to face-to-face actually talking to someone, I freeze. I’ve never been to a networking event for this reason, but all of that is about to change… that’s right, one of my assignments is actually to attend a networking event! First of all, terrifying, right? But second of all, how incredibly applicable that is! As someone who is generally quite shy, I need something like this to push me out of my comfort zone. You can’t get better at something without practice, so although I’m freaking out about it, I’m also so glad I can do it in the safety of being in school.
Something I learned about networking events this week is that a lot of people have the wrong idea for how to go about it. Many people think that if they leave at the end of the night and have run out of business cards they were successful at the event. As my HR prof pointed out though this week, this isn’t necessarily the case. If you leave without collecting any business cards from anyone else, how are you supposed to contact them? If they have your contact info and you don’t have theirs, who has the upper hand? That means the ball is in their court to contact you, which may or may not happen.
3. Know exactly what’s happening in your business’ Supply Chain Process
In my entrepreneurship program, I have to take a course called “supply chain management”. Do you think I knew what that was? Absolutely not! I thought it had to do with places like staples that supply items for other businesses, which yes it is, but it’s so much more than that. Essentially, it’s about the process of creating your product or service and all of the little steps involved. And when I say little, I mean EVERY LITTLE STEP. You used a piece of tape to package a box for shipment? That’s part of the supply chain. You need a specific type of paper to create your journals? Again, that’s another part of it.
The reason it’s important as a business owner to know everything about your supply chain process is so you can know exactly what amount of money is going into a product from beginning to end. This is relevant, of course, in figuring out how to make a profit while still keeping things at a reasonable price. I can’t go into super specific details, as it’s only the first week, but I do know that it’s important to have control of the finances in your business, which is why supply chain management is so important.
4. A Handshake is more than just a handshake
In one of my classes this week, we did one of those icebreaker introduce yourself exercises. Sounds pretty generic, right? It was, except our prof insisted that she needed to shake each of our hands in the process. Some people were pretty weirded out by it, while others like myself hardly noticed. Afterwards, however, she pointed out in a general sense that most of us had strong handshakes while others needed a lot of work. This was strange, as your handshake isn’t really something you tend to think much about in everyday life, but isn’t it so true that a handshake can tell a lot about a person during that small first impression window of meeting someone?
When shaking hands with someone, here are a couple of tips I learned during this exercise. A firm grip is preferable over one of those handshakes where someone holds out two fingers (isn’t that so awkward?! Omg I’ve had that happen to me a few too many times). Eye contact, squaring your shoulders with the person, and smiling are amongst other qualities of a good handshake that were mentioned.
5. It is absolutely possible to make friends as an adult
You guys! After the past year of having pretty much no one around except my boyfriend, I finally am developing somewhat of a girl group at school! Maybe I’m fangirling a bit too much about this, but it’s so exciting to me to have a group of girls to eat lunch with and do group projects with – we even have a WhatsApp group chat! And yes, I am in college again, so I suppose it’s again one of those places that make it a bit easier to make friends, but it happened so organically that I’m not even sure college had a lot to do with it.
We’re all entrepreneurs and we’re in the same class. But perhaps if we had met at a networking event or something like that we would have hit it off there too. The point is that I’m 23 years old and I’m starting to develop new friendships, so it is absolutely doable. That’s a crazy exciting epiphany for me!
6. You need to be comfortable with criticism if you’re going to be successful as an entrepreneur
Criticism has always been like my arch nemesis, both giving and receiving. I have a very difficult time not taking things personally and I hate saying things to others that they might take personally. It’s a double edged sword. That being said, I’m fully aware of the importance of being able to handle giving and receiving criticism as an entrepreneur. There will be a day when I have to manage other employees. There will be a time even sooner when I’m pitching my business ideas to investors, who will absolutely tell me exactly what they think, what they like, and what they don’t like.
These concepts are terrifying. Luckily, I’m currently in college where my professors encourage us to practice in a safe space. We’re required to work in a group not of our choosing and give in-person peer evaluations to each person in the group on a weekly basis. I was extremely uncomfortable with this activity at first, probably because I grew up in this millennial generation where teachers always sugar-coated things for us growing up (for instance, whenever I’ve had to do a peer-evaluation it was always written anonymously). But that’s not how the real world works. There’s an entire generation of us who aren’t prepared to handle criticism, which is why I think activities like this are so important and relevant, especially within an entrepreneurial lifestyle.
7. Entrepreneurial traits for the most part can be learned
There’s a lot of debate going around about whether the common traits of successful entrepreneurs can be learned or not. The verdict by professionals in the industry, however, is that for the most part these traits can be learned. This was interesting as I was among those who believe you either have what it takes or you don’t. Among some of the top traits successful entrepreneurs tend to possess are a tolerance for ambiguity, a drive to achieve success, persistence and perseverance, personable, and an ability to be a critical thinker.
8. We weren’t given strict deadlines in school for no reason
Have you ever actually thought about what deadlines mean in the real world? Maybe this is just me, but I never made the connection between our teachers giving us strict deadlines growing up and what that would teach us for when we step out into the workforce. I honestly thought they were just being hard-asses!
One of my profs used an example to explain this that really got me thinking. If a bakery owner takes an order for a cake to be ready for Saturday at 2pm for a little boy’s birthday party, and then at 1:30 calls the mom who ordered the cake to tell her that she won’t have it ready in time, what are the implications? It’s more than just a failing grade on a test. It’s a little boy’s dream of having a Pikachu cake for his 5th birthday crushed! Now the mother has to run around last minute to find a grocery store cake which her kid may or may not like (you know how kids are lol).
Okay, so maybe it’s not the end of the world. But those are real life implications impacting real people because that one person didn’t meet their deadline. It causes a lot of stress for everyone involved. In order for the world to function properly, we need to have discipline and we need to have deadlines. No matter how large or small the issue, we as entrepreneurs must make sure we’re setting and meeting deadlines. Otherwise our businesses aren’t going to succeed in the ways that we probably want them to.
9. We’re not always going to like the people we work with and they’re not always going to like us
Going back to the group I was assigned (which I don’t think has happened since I was like 14). There’s a reason my prof assigned us groups to work with instead of allowing us to choose our groups. As an entrepreneur, it’s likely that we’ll have the opportunity to work with a wide variety of individuals, some of whom we may like and others of whom we won’t so much. We need to learn to work with anyone, regardless of whether we want to be their best friend or not.
10. I’m finally excited about the path that I’m on!
This one is more personal, but it feels so great to finally be on the right path! I’m actually excited to wake up early in the morning and get to work on building my business. That’s something I haven’t been able to say, like, ever. It’s been a long road, but I feel like I’ve finally found my passion, and it’s an amazing feeling!
If you had told me a year ago that I would be this happy in a year, I would have laughed and then cried because that’s how shit things were at this time last year (pretty sure I had just gotten back from PEI after having a meltdown and loosing my housing so it wasn’t a good time to say the least). Every decision I’ve made up to this point has led me down this path, and I don’t have any regrets about either the good times or the hardships. They’ve made me who I am today, and I’m proud to be that person. 🙂
Overall, my first week at school was a successful one. I’m incredibly glad to have chosen an entrepreneurship college certificate. This is exactly what I need to get my business off the ground and learn important skills along the way.
What is your number one tip for entrepreneurs who are just starting out? Let’s get a conversation started in the comments to support each other through this process. I’d love to hear your thoughts! Also, have you heard about our brand new membership? The Society is for the woman who is driven, ambitious and wants to find success in all areas of life. If this sounds like you, then you need to head over there to check it out! We’re looking forward to having you join our fabulous community. 🙂