7 Things I've Learned As A First Time Founder

Annabel Okeya

Founder lessons - Seventh and Oak

 

Seventh & Oak has been in business for one year and it has been a journey. I was reflecting on the past year - my Ws, Ls and everything in between, and I've learned so much, but here are 7 of them.

Entrepreneurship is a journey

Entrepreneurship takes time, money and energy. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. You may need to grind for years before you start seeing results and that's absolutely okay. Know that everyone's path to entrepreneurship is different and just because someone is seemingly doing better than you, doesn't mean you're a failure. Everything takes longer than you think, you have to be patient.

Customer experience should be a top priority

Everyday I learn about brands that have become leaders in providing memorable customer experiences for customers. Brands like Zappos, Disney and Nordstrom. With great customer service comes honesty and transparency. People know it's not all sunshine and rainbows behind every brand. They want to see the good and bad stuff, they want to be able to relate with you/your brand. Whether it's (in addition to selling products) creating content that inform, inspire or educate (like us), sharing videos of both good and bad days (like Mid Day Squares), lending your voice for a cause (like Kinsfolk Shop) or building a strong community (like Khalia), you need to craft an effective customer experience strategy at every stage of your buyers journey.

Know when it's time to get help

If you find that you're the most intelligent person in the room, you need to find a new room. Imagine juggling a small business and a crazy 9-5 job. That was me for the most part of my first year in business. At some point, it started to take a toll on me - physically and mentally. I needed help. I looked at the areas where I could trust someone enough to manage and hired some help. As an entrepreneur, you can't do it all and when you get to the point where you're stretched too thin, it might be time to bring in a new team member.

Believe in yourself and your vision

Like it or not, you're your business' primary salesperson because business development never stops. Networking, regularly promoting yourself on the internet are all part of the gig. How will people know that you have an awesome product if you don't tell them? You may not get a lot of support initially but keep at it and you will soon start to attract the right people.

Never lose sight of your values

At Seventh & Oak, we believe in the power of slowing down and practicing self care, and that fragrance shouldn’t come at the expense of the environment or hurt animals. We care deeply about impact, so we don't create things for the sake of creating them. We want to create things that leave the world in a better place than we found it. 

Take care of yourself so you can take care of your business

I take the time to really enjoy my mornings - whether its journaling for 5 minutes or meditating or enjoying a cup of coffee. I always begin my work day by writing down my opportunities (I stopped calling them “to-dos”). I find that I get more accomplished when I’m in control of my day. My mind is always working but once I see that I’m getting stressed out, I turn it all off and take a breather. Yoga calms me down and I practice during my lunch hour or right before bed. I'm always burning a candle (Asana or Zen) during yoga, and jazz is my music of choice to calm me down.

Stay curious

There is so much information on the internet that can help you on your journey. No matter how unique your idea is, I bet someone has done something similar before you. Look at their websites, read their books, watch their videos and make connections with people who have been there before you. Do not ever copy another business because what works for them may not work for you, plus it's just wrong. Instead, figure out how you can leverage the information you have and make your business more valuable in the eye of your customer.

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2 comments

  • Beautifully written Annabel! Congratulations on an amazing first year. Thank you for sharing your insight and the lessons you’ve learned in your first year of entrepreneurship 🤎🙏🏼

    Kahla
  • Annabel!

    I’m SO honoured to be included in this post! You’re such an inspiration and the brand you’ve created is amazing! I’m totally blown away by what you’ve built! Thank you for including Kinsfolk Shop.

    Tiu T

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