Lessons I’ve learned from being an entrepreneur

woman sitting on brown wooden chair while using silver laptop computer in room

Guest Post: Angie Hibben is the President/CEO of the Oswego Area Chamber of Commerce and the owner of AJ Creations, her crochet/jewelry business (and her sanity many days).

Original Source: foundingmoms.com

I am a daughter, sister, wife, mom of four, grandmother of five (soon to be six!), wife and entrepreneur – not necessarily in any specific order – depending on the day.

It’s never too late to achieve a goal

I’ve been a preschool teacher, concession stand supervisor, and restaurant/banquet manager also in my lifetime. When I was in my late 40’s, I went back to school and finally got my degree – all online and while working full-time for the chamber. (P.S. Algebra should not be an online class.)

Thanks to my son-in-law and my son, I survived four years of online school and achieved my Associates in Business. I needed to prove to myself and show my kids that it is never too late to achieve a goal or change a career. I finally believe I am where I need to be.

I spend my days meeting entrepreneurs – many of which are women – trying to make a difference and my evenings either networking or being at home with my husband.

While at home, I never just sit: I just don’t know how. I go from jewelry to crochet to basketweaving and such nonstop. I love to learn new things and try new patterns; I can crochet while holding a conversation or watching TV.

I love to make things for people and see their smiles. There is nothing better than seeing someone post something they bought for themselves, a loved one or a pet, and talk about how much they love it.

Lessons I’ve learned from being an entrepreneur

  • Never devalue your worth or what you do, but you can always choose to donate. One of my businesses reviews donation requests once a month to choose who and if they will donate to an organization. Choose who and what you give to and don’t always expect something in return.
  • There are certain people and certain organizations that I willingly commit to and donate to and not bat an eye on cost or time. These are people and organizations that matter to me and everyone’s choices will be different in that regard. Set yourself a dollar amount and/or time commitment to give to and make your choices that way. Figure out whom and what you want to support, then sell the hell out of your product or service the rest of the way.
  • Being an entrepreneur is also being an active member of the community and giving back without expectation of return within reason. I do it because it takes a village to raise a child, to keep a community strong, and to make the world a good place.
  • As a mom/grandma/entrepreneur, find time for yourself or you will burn out. I have a group of friends and we go out once a month to eat and drink. We support each other, we laugh, we cry and we have fun. I wish I had that as a young mom.
  • Also never apologize for being a mom entrepreneur! I am a better mom because I worked. It is not the amount of time you spend with your children – it is the quality of that time. Put down your phone, turn off technology, and play a board game. Any client who doesn’t understand that you are taking family time is a client you don’t need.
  • Don’t be afraid to fire clients! A few years ago one of our chamber members said that once a year he goes through his client list and fires clients. I thought that was a horrible thing to do – fire clients. We need our clients to pay our bills, why would we fire them? Then I sat down and really thought about what he was saying and doing. We all have that client that doesn’t understand the boundaries of personal time/family time/work time, who is never happy with your product or your service. You need to look at your clients, look at your ROI on these clients and make choices. We, as women, who tend to give, give and give and try to make everyone happy and fix things have a hard time firing clients, but we must. I would rather have fewer clients and be able to spend more time on them. In turn, they will recommend me to others.

There is more to be done

I come from an era where most women stayed home – my mom not only had a job but owned her own business. I have seen society change and there is more to be done. There are so many women-owned businesses than before. In downtown Oswego, over 90% of businesses are women-owned and that is such an awesome thing to see and experience.

There are so many opportunities out there but in all this – don’t forget about you, why you wanted to be an entrepreneur, and your passion.