What I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Business

Posted by BOXFOX TEAM on

Four Years, Four Revelations

Four years ago, Jenni, Sabena and I started BOXFOX. It was November 7th, 2014. We had been meeting most nights since January of that year and it had all led to that moment, sitting around the kitchen table in our Venice apartment at 6a where we sent out an email to every person we had ever met, directing them to our freshly minted website. Since then, we've learned a lot. Every business owner will tell you about how, “learning to delegate is hard” and that, “you should always put the customer first” (both are very true), but I wanted to talk about some of the lessons I learned that I didn’t see coming. Thinking back on how far we’ve come in 4 years and for the love that all is holy (would you look at Karen Smith’s gym clothes?!), I put together a list of my 4 most important revelations:

1. Networking will not go away, get over it:
    Fact, I hate networking. I hate smalltalk, chit chat, or mind numbing banter. I hate working a long day then trying to make myself presentable before schlepping across town at 6p. I find most people are full of it and  I don’t want to spend time to find out if I’m right. Isn’t the one benefit of being an adult mean you get your tribe, you nurture it, you invest in it, then you retreat to a hole of Netflix once the sun goes down? However, in the past 4 years, I’ve transformed from a smug 22 know-it-all who thought I’d cracked the code on never having to network to a 27 year old woman who understands you can do it with purpose, intention and results. BOXFOX only benefits from situations where we display our wares and break down the business in person, so now we actively seek out only the best of the best events or situations to actively grow the brand and business reach. Because while the jury is still out on whether I now love networking, I do love learning from likeminded, hardworking women.
    2. Leadership is hard, and management is harder: 

    It seems that in the blink of an eye, my cofounders and I went from staying up late packing boxes ourselves to managing a team of over 20+ employees. Even with the best team ever formed (hi guys!) managing people is mentally exhausting. I wake up worrying about their happiness, their professional trajectory, their inner-office relations, their new puppy, their grandparents and that’s all before Tuesday! Its not something I ever really thought about that first year, but it's a huge and important part of our days and a skill that takes constant practice and investment.

    3. Everyone has an opinion, learn to pivot and educate:
    Everyone at work knows my least favorite phrase in the entire world is, “you know what you should do…” Mainly because everyone and their mother has offered up (unsolicited) advice the past 4 years. It used to really get to me. It made me feel like everyone in the world thought we didn’t think through the decisions we made, even though each one was carefully researched and discussed. Then I caught myself doing it to someone about their vacation planning and I realized we’re all monsters. No, just kidding, but I did realize (most) people didn’t mean any harm by it. They just want to help and be involved and feel close to us and the process. It’s important to be open to listening, but know when to take things to heart versus nodding, smiling, and getting out of there as soon as you can.

    4. Your word is everything:
    I used to over extend myself, qualify my opinions, or halfheartedly agree with things to make people happier. "Sure, I can be at work for 12 hours in December then stop by your book launch then make it in time to your Christmas party! I can do anything!" But I can't, and I won't. I was so worried about disappointing people, but I realized being direct, concise and honest just made everyone happier in the long run. Not only that, but focusing my time and energy efficiently makes me a better friend and boss. When we say something, we mean it, and that attitude trickles down into our business relationships, our company culture, and our customer service.

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