At 15 years old, I produced my first fashion show with $250 that I had saved. Since then, I have built a 22-year career in event production, research, project management, and fashion design. I currently serve as the CEO of the Indiana Fashion Foundation and founder of Indiana Fashion week.
Looking back, I owe the 15-year-old me everything for setting me on the path that I’m currently on. Yet, there are also some things that I wish that I could tell her. If you- like her- are just getting started on your entrepreneurial journey, I encourage you to listen in to this conversation about the things I wish I’d known sooner about walking in purpose:
1. Fear is not a sign that you shouldn’t go after your dreams
Right now, in the infant stage of your entrepreneurial journey, you are excited, but you’re also very scared. This fear gives way to questions such as “How will I make my dream happen?” “What if I fail?” “Who will buy from me?” The presence of these questions alongside your fear also makes you wonder if they’re some sort of sign that you shouldn’t go after your dreams after all, especially as every successful person that you admire seems so courageous. I’m here to tell you that you’re right; they are courageous. However, since “the brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear,” you can be too. You just need to make the decision, as they constantly do, to feel the fear and do it anyway.
2. Don’t listen to the naysayers
It’s just as important to ignore your doubters as it is to ignore your internal doubts. The thing to remember is that many people will not see your vision because it wasn’t given to them. It’s your vision to steward and carry, which means that it’s your responsibility to bring it to life, not theirs. My advice? Unless the naysayers in your life have actually done what you want to do, don’t take their opinions on. Most of the time, they are speaking from their own limited vision or experience, but if you truly believe that God called you to fulfill your dream, don’t let that rub off on you!
3. Experience really is your greatest teacher
The aforementioned questions constantly swimming around in your head unanswered will only lead to analysis paralysis. Not only does this lead to stagnancy, but it also wastes a lot of time because the answers to most of our questions don’t become clear until we make a move. For example, as a multi-passionate, I had to learn it was important for me to designate time for idea explorations, even if just for a few hours. This helps me explore and get out my ideas so that I can focus, double down and be consistent on one area for at least six months (before evaluating and considering the next steps). In other words, you don’t achieve by theorizing and staying stuck in your head, so stop overthinking it and make a move towards your dream today!
4. Dream big but start small
You have big dreams- so big, in fact, that the gap between those dreams and your current circumstances overwhelm you. My advice? Dream big but start small. Meaning: you might have plans to be an international fashion designer, for example, but have you sewn your first piece? What about your first collection? Have you got customers in your home town? Or- you may want to write a book, but have you written a brief? What about your first paragraph or chapter? As the saying goes, “each journey of a thousand miles begins with just one single step.” Rather than being overwhelmed by the thousand, simply concentrate on taking one step at a time and trust the process.
5. Start from where you stand
Another way to alleviate overwhelm is to start with where you are now (in terms of budget, skill, space, and whatever else you need to succeed) and then build up to your fully realized dream. So, going back to the book writing example, you might just have an idea at the moment. Starting from where you stand, in that case, would be to flesh that idea out by writing a book plan or brief outlining the themes you’d like to tackle. The next step might be to think about the book order and what chapter to assign to each theme. After that, it might be to look at your schedule and think about when you can fit writing in every day/week. Then, it might be to actually implement the plan until the book is complete. Get the point? Now how can you do the same for your business idea?
Although this is wisdom that I’d share with my younger self, these are still principles that I carry with me now. Each new stage in life is going to require a special part of you to emerge. My hope is that you also see the value of these timeless principles so that you can implement and benefit from them, too- at any age.