I’ve been making some funny mistakes lately. Little ones—fortunately—but true “pregnancy brain” slip ups that remind me to slow my roll and to breathe. This is where experience, self awareness and self grace comes in handy. These are not attributes you’re born with, right? They take time to understand and cultivate.
I was compelled to share on instagram some time ago one of my most important messages for aspiring entrepreneurs: Get a JOB. It is on the job where you can observe, ask questions, make mistakes and learn from them. Learning and listening is an essential attribute in building a product and company, and it takes a practiced willingness (and patience) to achieve this.
One of the major mindset mistakes I see in the aspiring entrepreneur is the idea that, “I want to be my own boss.” I think it’s time for someone to say, when you work “for yourself” you actually work for everyone else: your customers, vendors, employees, your city and so on. You don’t get to simply make the rules, you have to listen and adjust and be open to that vulnerability. The healthier version of “I want to be my own boss,” might be, “I want to make a bigger impact and work beyond the barriers of my current job. I am willing to PAY for this opportunity.” This is a sign you know you’re ready.
The “job” experience benefits in many other ways too—be conscious of this when you have one and remember it—take advantage of this time. During this time you can build relationships and grow your network, which will come in handy. While I am the sole owner and founder of Mother Butter, I didn’t start Mother Butter on my own—not at all. I waited until I felt really confident in my path and began engaging old colleagues and friends with varying expertise to consult for me or simply give me sage advice over a cocktail or coffee. There was Jennifer, a marketing pro within the wellness industry; Rebecca, an executive at a major food company; Nate, a social media and advertising savant; Jen, my amazing photographer; Allegra, an actual real-life brand naming strategist; Nicole, an IP lawyer (kept those calls short); Khoran, a local chef and restaurateur—who happened to have the machine I needed collecting dust in his basement! Martin, the food biz wiz and bookkeeper. The list goes on here, but then there was the bravery to show up and ask for their help. Because of the gracious Shelby, co-founder of Soom Foods, I was invited into a private listserv for Philly Food Entrepreneurs. I was pre-launch and I introduced myself and connected with many industry professionals whom I very much rely upon today.
Various sample of tapping into your network—asking for help
The timeline of Mother Butter looked like this: Summer 2018, started my hormonal health diet. September 2018, found out I was pregnant. September 2018 - May 2019, put together various gift baskets to support friends along their journeys to conceive. June 2019, baked my first lactation cookies and started baking them regularly, soon serving my neighbors. October 2019, began journaling on an idea for a “Mother’s Marketplace” (women food/nutrient driven). December 2019, decide to leave my job and return to consulting. March 2020, pandemic: all of my clients take a step back. May 2020, “Moon Cycle Snacks” - a snackline to serve a woman’s hormonal health becomes my “underground” focus. June 2020, began a 12 week R&D study with Drexel Food Science Lab and Nutrition Department. September thru May 2021, put all the little pieces in place. Mother’s Day 2021, launch.
I had one or two goal launch dates before the perfectly aligned Mother’s Day launch but I hesitated and couldn’t do it. When an opportunity for a table at a small market on Mother’s Day became available I knew it was time and there was no turning back. I felt the faith and encouragement, and I decided, just do it.
OK - I’ll stop here. I hope I can be helpful for those with entrepreneurial aspirations or even for those struggling with their work right now. We can look beyond the job description and day to day, find other ways you’re gathering value and harness that. Your future self will thank you.