I am a one man wolfpack
. I travel the world in solitude. I do not have co-founders. I do not have investors. I am the art director, the accountant, the brand manager, the logistics coordinator, the customer service rep and any other hat a person might wear at a more established company. I am... alone.
And I freaking love it.
It might be difficult at times, but there are many positives to ridin' solo as the poet Jason DeRulo so aptly puts it
. Here are a few:I own all decisions.
At worst, I'm a first-timer in the e-commerce arena. At best, I'm a 98 lb. high school freshman on the first day of school, praying not to be hung on a locker hook from my underwear. Sure, I've read articles and books, watched videos, etc. that paint a picture of what it will be like, but in reality, I don't have a bleeping clue what I'm doing. I do have one thing, though - 100% control. If I want my new sock brand to appeal to hipster-skater types living in Venice Beach, I can do that. If I want to change course entirely and develop compression socks for octagenarians with poor circulation, I can do that, too. It's pretty empowering knowing that there's no higher authority to which I have to answer. Bringing another founder into the mix would likely cut my control by ~50%. And splitting up equity amongst investors could have an even worse outcome. No sir, I’d prefer to have my cake and eat it, too. I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription
is more control.Jack of all trades
The best thing about having no team to rely on is that you don't have to do any trust falls or equally awful team-building exercises. But a close second is that I'm constantly learning new skills and how to be resourceful. As a first-time entrepreneur, this is incredibly valuable. When you’re on your own, you don’t have anyone else to rely on (duh), and this results in a lot of self-teaching. I may not have the luxury of a big marketing budget or a team at my beck and call, but a funny thing happens when you're on your own with limited resources- you find a way to adapt and do more with less. 12 months ago, I had no idea how to set-up a website or get press for my business. Fast forward to today and I've probably forgotten more than I've learned. Though I certainly can’t claim to know everything about running my own business yet (adopting the 'fake it till you make it' philosophy), I have become a jack of all trades, a far more well-rounded entrepreneur with a diverse array of skills. Popular life coach Marie Forleo states that, “Everything is ‘figure-out-able,’”
and she couldn’t be more right. With the world's greatest classroom right at your fingertips, there’s no excuse for not being able to tackle any and all tasks on your own. The Google can be overwhelming, for sure, but it only takes is a little extra effort to separate the crap from the hidden nuggets of gold available free of charge.Comfort Zone ExpansionTim Ferriss (author of 4-Hour Work Week)
essentially calls it getting comfortable with getting uncomfortable. Put more bluntly, it’s called sucking it up and growing a... well, you know. Having no one else to rely on means you’ll be forced to stretch outside your comfort zone. Personally, I'm not accustomed to being the center of attention; I’ve never liked the spotlight. Too bad, so sad. If I want my company to succeed, I’m going to have to self-promote. And equally against my nature, I’m going to need to ask for help from time to time. Calling in favors will likely be a huge determinant of my success or failure. After all, it's not as if Derek Jeter is going to contact me out of the blue to say he wants to be a sponsor for my brand (Don’t worry, I’d turn him down. I’m an Orioles fan
.). Quite the opposite actually. I’ll need to repeatedly ask for help and be prepared for a lot of rejection. I mean A LOT. Like when you ask 100 girls in a bar for their number and only get one (which is likely fake). Repeated rejection can go one of two ways- either you’ll quit out of frustration or you’ll somehow manage to stay eternally optimistic. The latter approach means you’re becoming fearless, and that’s a dangerous weapon for an entrepreneur.
James Altucher (well-known entrepreneur and author) argues that taking responsibility for the success or failure of your startup is a huge step for an entrepreneur
. I tend to agree. If not you, then who? If you believe that your success (or lack thereof) can be chalked up to luck, you're dead wrong. You create your own luck by working hard to put yourself in optimal situations. 100% ownership means you and only you are in charge of your success, so take control of your destiny. Even if things don't work out, it's a hell of a lot easier to accept the consequences of your own decisions than those that were forced upon you by someone else.
They say it's lonely at the top, but it's equally lonely at the bottom when you’re just getting started. The key difference is that no one wants to be your friend at the beginning... well, I see that as a challenge, and challenge accepted.
The cheese stands alone.