Exactly a year ago, I published my first post on The Rodinhoods. I followed the community for quite a while but never dared to post anything until this day last year. The wait period from the time I pushed the publish button to the time I received an email that it was accepted was terrifying, to say the least. But hey, it all worked out very well and my post won the “RodinStar Post of the Week” badge.
I look back and see just how much has changed in this one year. I have learnt so much, unlearnt so much more, and grown so much that it is incredible. That’s exactly why I decided to share my first year experiences with all of you.
Where I was and where I am now
A year ago, I was at home. Yes, I was running a company from my bedroom. I was handling a bunch of freelance writers and nurturing my love for the indoors. On June 15, I took my first step into the outside world. I started working from a co-working office. This place is special to me for two reasons: my entrepreneurial life finally (and literally) came out in the open and I hired my first full-time employee in this place. The co-working space also helped me crack (not break) my hard, introvert shell.
Today, I have my own office space with my marketing partners. We are, together, a team of 15. The office is just as awesome as the people working in it. It is a happy place, a dream come true. Plus, it has a splendid view of nature!
What I learnt
Oh, where do I begin! I don’t think I can list all my learnings but I will definitely give it a shot:
1. I learnt that branding is about your clients – your target audience. It is not about what you think is right or “perfect”.
2. I learnt that some clients can be toxic to the business and you have every right to cut the cord.
3. I realized the importance of saying no.
4. Co-working space is a great place to start, especially if you are bootstrapped, but you may not want to stay there for a long time.
5. I understood that encouraging employees to do and master what they love is important. I don’t emphasize on experience when I hire. I look for passion in writing. I look for that zeal, that commitment towards the pen. That’s very, very important.
6. I grasped the importance of meeting new people and networking (something that I very strongly refused to do in the past). I now pick up the phone without creases on my forehead!
7. I understood that business can be highly volatile. It can be awesome at one moment and terrible at the next. What’s important is to give your best and always have a plan B.
8. Processes – from start to end – are the base of professionalism. Lack of organization can bring you down very quickly.
9. All work and no play will make even the most enthusiastic person drain and burn out. That’s why we have fun activities and breaks every now and then. I have always wanted to create an office environment that employees love and clients appreciate. I have managed it well, by far. Trust me, it is the world’s best feeling when an employee texts the team from the airport after a week’s vacation, “I can’t wait to get back to office!”
10. Stress is a significant part of the startup life. Embrace it. Make it work for you!
You’ll be surprised – my (company’s) entire identity changed! I realized in the hard way that you must always, always put yourself in the reader’s/viewer’s shoes and understand the brand. Of course, brand is personal but if someone can’t relate to it, you have lost half the battle. Many disagreed with my decision and I personally don’t think there’s a right or wrong here. I took this step through my own understanding and experience. So far, it has helped me heaps!
Another thing that’s changed is me (actually me). I have grown as a person. I have become more tolerant, less short-tempered, more mature, and more grounded than ever before. Every morning when I see the team, I realize just how much talent there is and just how much there is to learn! Every discussion we have teaches me something new and it makes me appreciate every force that made me turn my passion into career.
It was very tough for me when I got started. I had no encouragement from my parents and I was on my own, motivating myself to keep going. My brother helped me get through the struggle and today, I have motivation and inspiration pouring from all sides for me. The Rodinhoods community has played a big role here.
I know I have a long way to go and I hope it is just as amazing a rollercoaster ride as it has been. Thanks, Rodinhoods for everything!