In 2012, if you would have told me I would own my own business, I would have laughed in your face as I wouldn’t have known business basics and would have made a snarky remark about capitalism. Fast forward to now and I am an entrepreneur who has a staff of 45, impact 2000 girls a year, and am the CEO of a corporation. Go figure.
Owning a business was never in my mind’s eye because I didn’t have the tools, exposure, background or the business basics to think it was a feasible career. As they say, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” I didn’t know much of anything (and I still don’t, but I sure am good at faking it.) In my second year as a classroom teacher, I was charged with the task of teaching entrepreneurship to 170 11th grade students on the south side of Chicago. Suffice it to say, I had to quickly learn the business basics. Along the way I learned the fundamentals of a business plan, the importance of networking and began to foster a healthy love of my own skill sets. While I worked to empower my students, I too became empowered.
I also learned that business basics are all you really need. Knowing how to use Microsoft Excel is definitely handy, but it won’t make or break you. Understanding the intricacies of evaluations may grant you more agency, but it won’t help you to grow as an entrepreneur. Below are my 7 foolproof business basics to live by. Take them out for a walk. Try them on. See how it goes.
7 PLAIN AND SIMPLE BUSINESS BASICS
- Do not apologize.
Are you killing it? Did you just sell something? Great! Take ownership and do not apologize for being a badass. People believe in you and that is more than a-okay.
- Yes and…
The cornerstone of improv comedy is the phrase, “Yes, and…” You cannot add something new to an idea if “but” is on the tip of your tongue. Be open to new ideas. Do not limit yourself with buts, cants, or nevers. How can you add to what you’ve created? What partnerships can strengthen your impact?
- Take up space.
I mean this literally. When you enter a room, own it. Wear bright colors and walk with confidence. If you are the only woman at the table, pull your shoulders back and use your voice.
- Your shit stinks just like the rest of us.
You are not that busy, I promise. No matter how much work you get or how successful you become, treat everyone with respect. This means that you should show up to meetings on time, reschedule ahead of time if needed, respond to emails, and make connections.
- Make smart friends.
Figure out your deficits and make friends with folks who fill those gaps. Curate a group of smart, kind, and respectful comrades. Make this group diverse. Be mindful of their time and return the favor.
- The ol’ fake it till you make it.
Sometimes you go with the flow and act like you know what the hell you are doing. Use context clues, research on your own and ask questions if needed. You would be surprised to learn how many people are doing the exact same thing.
- Know thy self.
What are you awesome at? What skills put you above the rest? Work to hone and refine those bad boys versus trying to strengthen your deficits (remember that’s why you have friends.) Become an expert and ninja in your skills. Of course, always push yourself and reflect in all areas of life but if you have to prioritize start with the tools you already have in your belt.
DON’T OVERTHINK IT
We tend to over complicate things when situations get sticky. Remember to always go back to the business basics and ground yourself. You started your company and became an entrepreneur because you had an idea, have passion and get things done. Keep it up!
Want your daughter to learn the basics? Sign her up for Mission Propelle’s Blooming Bosses Bootcamp, a week long summer camp that combines yoga, reading and entrepreneurship. Mission Propelle is an after school program within the Chicagoland area that empowers 1st-5th grade girls to know who they are, what they believe, and how to advocate for themselves. Grab a spot over here. Founding Moms get a 10% discount off of each enrollment so be sure to email firstname.lastname@example.org when you enroll!
Annie Warshaw is the CEO of Mission Propelle and former school teacher. She created Mission Propelle (formerly known as smarty pants yoga) to empower girls in elementary school by offering an after-school program that combines yoga, reading, and mentoring. It rocks.