“I knew it was going to be high-risk – to move to a startup at this point in my career, but I knew it would be higher reward – not financially, but personally.”
When Heather Mayo joined Boxed, an online wholesale shopping club startup, she had more than twenty-one years of merchandising and operations experience under her belt, working most recently as the Senior Vice Preside of Operations at Sam’s Club. Set hours. Job security. Benefits. Structure. On-the-job-training. Mayo left all of this behind to transition to the uncharted territory of the modern-day startup. She sits down with SheWorx to impart ten valuable life lessons that helped guide her towards taking the plunge.
Grow as you go
“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo
If you commit to being a student of life, and your own business, you will go much further. Get curious. Ask questions. Expand your mind. Challenge yourself. Learning is a deliberate and voluntary act. If you're no longer learning, then maybe you need to move on or change your approach. When you prioritize both personal and professional development and growth, you will be better equipped to realize opportunities and identify areas for improvement.
Commandeer the situation
“If it’s meant to be, it’s up to me.” - Naomi Simson
Have a big dream? No one else is going to fulfill it for you. Create a plan. Build a brand. Evaluate your competition. Streamline your systems. As a founder, you have the power to make your business whatever you want it to be. Choose an appropriate goal for your business or life and clearly define your objective. What is it that you want to do? What’s the end goal? How are you going to get there? Build an action plan. Assign roles. Communicate deadlines. Set measurable milestones. Make yourself, and your team, accountable.
Be the change
“If you don’t like something, change it.” – Mary Engelbreit
Does your business model need tweaking? Do you want to address gender discrimination in the workplace? As a founder, only you can change your company. And it’s important to build the company culture that you want, right from the get-go. Refuse to accept the status quo. Assess your business. Ask questions. Figure out what needs improving, and implement necessary changes.
“There are two primary choices in life; to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them." - Denis Waitley
When it comes to making a big decision, it might seem like your backed into a corner. You want to move from big business to a small startup? But you have a family to support. It’s not a good time. And what about your Christmas bonus? You certainly can’t leave before December. Not true. We all make choices every day. You have the power to change your life or your business if you want something different. What’s most important to you? Where do you see yourself in five years? Make choices that reflect your answers to these questions.
Trust your Instinct
“Trust your hunches. They’re usually based on facts filed away just below the conscious level.” – Dr.Joyce Brothers
If you just “have a feeling” about something, don’t ignore it. Follow your internal compass. Time for a change? Not sure if a partnership is working out? Ready to diversify your product base? Listen to the little voice inside of your head that drives you towards self-actualization.
Prepare to be unprepared
“We’ll never be ready if we keep waiting for the perfect time to come” – Mat Kearney
You heard the man. You’ll never be ready. But do it anyways. There’s never a good time when it comes to pushing your limits. Especially if you want to do the seemingly impossible. Don’t wait. Jump right in, and when you break the surface, spluttering for air, you will be so grateful that you finally took the plunge.
Make the hard (right) decisions
“Forget about all the reasons why something may not work. You only need to find one good reason why it might.” - Unknown
Big decisions can cause serious stress in your life. Quitting your job. Exiting a business. Sourcing the right investor. Don’t take the easy way out. Take time to really think about what it is that you want. Are you looking for an accountant? Be specific. What kind of qualities does this person need to have in order to help your business thrive? Sometimes you need to spend more money or time in the beginning to set yourself up for success in the long run.
Embrace the balance beam
“The key to keeping your balance is knowing when you’ve lost it” – Colin Wright
Life is perfectly imbalanced. Don’t be afraid to teeter. There are times where you’ll need to prioritize work and times that family will take center stage. Knowing how to prioritize, and figure out what’s most important, is essential to keep yourself from toppling over under the weight of it all.
“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” – Henry Ford
You’ll never know more about your personal character, about who you are or where you come from, then when you observe the way you respond to a tough situation. And the more you know about yourself, the better able you are to identify your strengths and your shortcomings. Welcome the hardships. Make room for them. In the end, they will be your greatest teachers.