The entrepreneurial journey doesn’t come with a roadmap or guarantees. When I decided to start my own business, I knew it was a leap into the unknown. What I didn’t know was how much the rewards would far outweigh the risks. Seeing your idea come to life, after countless sleepless nights, is surreal. Reaching every milestone, big or small, feels like winning the lottery, and at the advice of seasoned entrepreneurs, I’ve learned to pause and celebrate every single win, no matter how small.
The path has not always been smooth and straight. As an entrepreneur, you have to accept defeat and overcome roadblocks. Most importantly, you have to recognize your limitations and leverage your capabilities; self-awareness is key to driving your business. Giving up on my predictable 9 – 5 meant paving an entirely new road; one with many twists and turns. Below are five key takeaways about entrepreneurship that I’ve picked up along the way. The good, the bad, and the rude awakening.
1. What you don’t know can help you.
Had I known all the things I know now about starting a business, I would have thought twice about quitting my comfortable corporate job! The learning curve was steep and it was scary. But I didn’t know any of this before I dove in, and that’s precisely why I did it. My passion and optimism led me to take the plunge and has kept me moving in the right direction. Through setbacks and hurdles, always remember your purpose and what got you started in the first place. Be honest with yourself, accept what you don’t know and leverage your strengths. The unknown will come into focus just when you are ready to take it on.
Through setbacks and hurdles, always remember your purpose and what got you started in the first place.
2. Minority rules.
I ventured into the food space thinking I’d be one of many women sitting around the table. Boy, was I wrong. The food industry is dominated by men on every level, from distributors and investors, to manufacturers and retailers. For two years, I have sat in meetings as the ONLY woman in the room. I’m also Latina. A double whammy. But I haven’t let that stop me, and instead use it all to establish my own rules and differentiate myself in a crowded industry. I constantly remind myself to be prepared, be professional, be an indisputable expert in my field, and leverage my unique strengths. No man can challenge my experiences as a mom, a Latina and a working professional that is both. I embrace all of it and I use it to build bridges instead of building walls. Along the way, I have realized that I am heard and respected not for who I am, but for what I bring to the table. And what I bring is all of my [Latina] self.
… I have realized that I am heard and respected not for who I am, but for what I bring to the table.
3. Passion is contagious.
I learned this throughout my corporate career and have found it even more relevant today as an entrepreneur. People get excited about passion in a way they rarely do about tangible objects. People feed off of good energy and motivation and grit. Think about it, we all want to join a movement, especially one that is irresistible. Remember to bring your passion with you wherever you go; share it and give it the spotlight it deserves. You want people to get excited about more than just your product. You want them emotionally vested in you and your passion. You want them to believe in your willingness and determination to do the right thing, and in your ability to build a movement that is worth the ride.
People get excited about passion in a way they rarely do about tangible objects.
4. It ain’t pretty, it’s a balancing act.
I was a working mom before I started my own business, so I thought I knew all about balancing motherhood and an office job before starting my own company. I was sorely mistaken. Starting a business is like being pregnant and giving birth to another child. You carry it with you for months, preparing for its arrival, and planning financially for its future. You give birth and you realize it depends on you for survival. You do everything in your power to give it a healthy start and make sure it thrives. Different from a corporate job where you can disconnect from the challenges of keeping a business afloat, having your own business means you are always connected because it depends on you to succeed. As a mom of two, devoting so much of my time and energy to getting this business off the ground and helping it grow has been hard. It has meant missing out on fun activities with my daughters or forgetting special dates. Other times, I realize that even when I am around, I’m so distracted by the business, I’m not fully present. It’s when I hear my daughters say they want to grow up to be “a Fresh Bellies worker” or when I hear them squealing at the sight of Fresh Bellies on store shelves that I realize it’s all worth it. I remind myself I am building this for them. They too will learn to follow their passions and live their dreams. I am teaching them that if they work hard and prepare themselves, there is no limit to what they can do. And I try to find a balance. When I need time to reconnect with my home and my children, I disconnect from the business, just enough to feel whole again. Something always has to give and that’s OK. The important part is embracing your journey, knowing that hard work is just that, hard, and that you are teaching valuable lessons to yourself and your family along the way. You are a business owner and a mother. You are living the example of what that looks like, and while it may not always be pretty or easy, it’s real and inspiring.
The important part is embracing your journey, knowing that hard work is just that, hard, and that you are teaching valuable lessons to yourself and your family along the way.
5. Never stop learning.
Surround yourself with an infinite source of knowledge. Find inspiration everywhere and look for ways to fuel your drive every step of the way. Team up with experts who compliment your strengths, supplement your background, and make you better. Many experts are looking for ways to get involved with new projects and inspiring missions that have potential. If you can get key people excited about your business, their involvement becomes negotiable. Look to others who have gone before you and learn from their experiences, their successes as well as their setbacks. Entrepreneurship is a life-long journey. One where you never stop learning and you’re constantly evolving and reinventing yourself. Every conversation and experience is an opportunity to learn and grow. Use it. The world changes every day and we need to be ready to adapt. We need to be flexible to changing demands and ready to pivot for the sake of improvement and innovation, always keeping your mission at heart. To evolve, we need to educate ourselves, and to educate ourselves, we need to be on a constant path to learning.
Saskia Sorrosa is a former NBA marketing executive turned entrepreneur. After having her daughters, she realized the baby food market lacked wholesome and delicious choices free of sugar, that actually made vegetables the heroes of the dish. A problem-solver at heart and innovator at the core with a keen eye for business, she created Fresh Bellies.