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Article: 8 Things I’ve learned in 18 years of entrepreneurship

8 Things I’ve learned in 18 years of entrepreneurship

FROM OUR FOUNDER, CATHERINE CHOI

As I reflect on 2022, the biggest personal milestone that comes to mind is that my oldest child, Noah, went off to University this past September. Although it is hard as a parent to have one of my chicks fly the coop, at the same time, I am so proud of the adult he’s become.

That also means that it’s been almost 18 years since I conceived the idea of SoYoung, back when Noah was 7-months old, napping in his stroller.  I was hit with a moment of pure inspiration that I was going to design a baby product and start my own business.  I had no idea exactly how I was going to do it, but I sensed that a time-sensitive window of opportunity had opened up for me, and I knew I had to jump before the self-doubt caused the window to close.

It goes without saying that it has been a long and winding journey since then.I can truly say that I am a completely different person now, from who I was when I started out.

In the spirit of looking back upon the journey of the year, I wanted to share some of the most important lessons I’ve learned from 18 years of entrepreneurship. Perhaps you will feel inspired by my experience, no matter what project or change you are looking to make in your own life in the year to come.


Cultivate Inner Resilience 

When I started SoYoung, I really believed that if I could create a massively successful business, then I would be able to feel good about myself. 

That never happened, even with successes both big and small. Instead, despite the setbacks, once I learned to cultivate inner resilience, I discovered that I could feel good about myself irrespective of whether my business was successful or not.

Fill the Gaps 

I have discovered that except for very brief touchpoints in life, there will always be a gap between what I want my life to look like and what it actually looks like. 

My job is actually to learn to fill that gap myself, with a feeling of wholeheartedness and gratitude, without delay. The incredible thing that I have experienced over and over again is the understanding that we can cultivate these inner states without anything in our external world changing. 

People are Complex and Worthwhile

I have learned over time that relationships are everything and that everyone is a multi-layered, fascinating and complex being with their own beauty and their own shadow. 

Even though I like to surround myself with people who are positive and like-minded, the real work is in being able to show compassion, find relatedness and sometimes do the hard work of acceptance and forgiveness with difficult people and/ or circumstances. My experience has been that making that effort is always worth it, and that more often than not, there is common ground that connects us.

It Will Never be Perfect

I have learned that every year I will make mistakes that cost money in business, and every year there will be wins, and that's just how it goes.

Play to Strengths

No one has all the answers, but some people are definitely better at some things than others. It's all about playing to a person’s strengths and matching the right role to the right person.

Trust Your Gut

It's important to gather as much information and expertise around a decision as possible, but that the gut check is the determinant.

Create a Supportive Community

My community has given me so much insight that I never could have gotten on my own. The lesson is to  surround yourself with other entrepreneurs and people who understand what it's like to run a business and meet regularly to share wins, challenges and everything in between is foundational to mental health.

Sit with Yourself

Meditation is a superpower and has been instrumental in keeping me sane as I navigate the road of entrepreneurship - and life. Highly, highly recommend.

What about you? What have been your biggest milestones, reflections, and realizations this year? I would love to hear them! Leave a comment below.

May your holidays be filled with connectedness, laughter, and rest.

Xo,

Catherine

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