By: Jessica Ekstrom, Guest Blogger
5 things no one tells you about starting a company
When I started my company, Headbands of Hope, people told me a lot of things: it’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of money, most startups fail etc.
A lot of things started to sound like a broken record. But now, three years into my company, I’ve realized that there are a few things that no one tells you:
It’s never off your mind.
There’s never a moment where I feel disconnected to my company. Whether it’s family barbeques, movies, vacations, Sunday football, taking a shower, working out, it’s always in the back of my mind. There are times when it’s not as prevalent, but it’s still never gone. Since April 25th, 2012, I’ve never had a moment where I felt I was “off the clock.”
You pay yourself last (or not at all).
The title of being CEO of a company has a connotation of being “rich.” But as the owner, it’s your responsibility to make sure all of your team gets paid before you even think about paying yourself. Also, you have to make a choice to either give yourself a salary or invest that money back into the company. Even if the business is running well and growing, the CEO might take a very limited salary or none at all for the best interest of the company.
You’ll have your highest of highs…and lowest of lows.
When I look back at times in my life where I was the happiest and the saddest, both times had to do with my business. When you start a company, you become incredibly emotionally connected to it because it’s a reflection of you. You thought of it and you created it. Therefore, any event (good or bad) is going to provoke extreme emotions.
There are no fingers to point.
If something goes wrong, it’s all you. If something goes awesome, it’s all you. There are no opportunities to point fingers when you start a company. Every decision is a result of you and your actions. Even if an employee messed up, you can’t point a finger and blame at them because you’re the one who hired them. The only finger you can point in any situation is back at yourself.
All of it is worth it.
From the outside, some people might look at all of this and all of the dirt we have to trek through to run a business and think we’re crazy. But what they don’t see is the fulfillment we get that overrides all of the craziness. That’s the difference between companies that make it and the ones that don’t. Or the entrepreneurs that thrive and the ones that fry: all of the crazy stuff has to be worth it.
Jess is the founder and CEO of her college startup, Headbands of Hope. For every headband purchased, one is given to a girl with cancer and $1 is donated to fund childhood cancer research. She loves speaking on college campuses through CAMPUSPEAK and has recently launched her first book, The Freshman Fabulous: The Girl's Guide to College. When she's not working or speaking, she enjoys trying new foods, doing crossfit, writing (especially for IATG!), taking improv classes, being outside and helping others find their path to help the world.