As we close National Black Business Month, I am honored to pen this letter to you-- the creators, the waymakers, the innovators, the entrepreneurs who have the courage to bet on yourselves time and time again. Your very existence in this space is deeply inspiring and legacy shifting. There's no greater honor than to follow your assignment, your purpose, that's been given uniquely to you. As a fellow entrepreneur in this journey, what I share in this letter comes from my own journal, where I ground myself, each morning, in the lessons I have learned to become a stronger business owner. My journey as the Founder and CEO of the Village Market, the Village Retail, and Our Village United.
Black entrepreneurship is a love endeavor and, like any good love, it has cracked me open and revealed to me things that I did not know I possessed, things that tested my grit, and things that have awarded me such a beautiful and full journey. This letter will be a catalogue of the most important lessons I have learned thus far.
The boundaries I have claimed specifically around my time and my wellness. An abundance of time is the biggest myth of entrepreneurship. Being your own enterprise requires sustained, focused time and attention. The perception that entrepreneurship is a respite from a daily grind can often cause conflict and hurt feelings from those closest to you.
The delegation of time is important because for most start-ups, the majority of the responsibilities fall on the founder, the big Zoom meetings, the unexpected "fires" and the nuance of being a founder--are all unloaded on the person with the vision.
Communication allows those that you love to better understand the demands on your time. There will always be those to test it, expecting you to be available to return texts immediately, calling at random hours during the day, asking for time-sensitive favors.
Having boundaries around self-care is essential. The greatest gift I have given myself is a wellness routine that stills my mind--waking early to be still, to be fully present in my own being, going for my morning bike ride centers me every time.
If your journey has been anything like mine, you have experienced a lot of no's. The no's have the capacity to knock the air out of you and it will be hard to not take it personal.
No's are a part of the journey and most no's, if you learn what you should from them, afford you the ability to step back, refine your plans and see that things are simply unaligned.
When I first started to talk about creating a modern Village, creating a community where health is centered and there's a collective economical win, people thought I was a cute, naive woman from Mississippi. I agree; I was cute and a Mississippian. I understood something valuable. Most people have not done what I was assigned to do and simply could not understand it. It's likely the same for you.
Remember, everyone will not have the capacity to see you, the potential of you but as you stay on your path, those who have been assigned to aid in your elevation will see you and be honored to assist in your growth. You must also be your greatest cheerleader affirming your purpose daily.
Purpose and understanding your assignment does not come without its challenges. It actually will test you time and time again to never settle for less versions of your greatness. However, the bar of perfection is unreal and can be damaging.
Anxiety, depression, fatigue, and burnout are real risks for entrepreneurs, especially those who are striving to achieve perfection.
I imagine you find yourself waking up extra early to have enough time in the day to work toward your goals. Oftentimes, when the day ends, there are so many goals still left on the table for tomorrow and it's likely you feel like a failure.
As a recovering perfectionist that needed to learn how to delegate, the book Who, Not How: The Formula to Achieve Bigger Goals through Accelerating Teamwork, and it changed my life. Push yourself to operate in excellence but do not damage your spirit in your pursuit of it, offer yourself grace to learn, to figure it out, to revisit, to finetune.
Find Your Village.
There's a great deal of loneliness that will come until you find your peer group or solid mentors. I really do not know where I'd be without my peer circle. Having peers and friends who have an entrepreneurial IQ helps you strengthen yours especially during the time of growth pains. For me, these relationships have been organic as I have operated in my purpose, I have attracted like-minded people.
Being a part of a community of like-minded people is an invaluable investment in yourself. Relationships are the core of all successful businesses.
As you grow in entrepreneurship, you will find yourself in rooms with people you've admired from afar. Do not allow imposter syndrome to set in. Your work got you in the room. To have a vision is a gift and an honor and I celebrate your excellence, grit, determination and purpose. Nothing complements purpose more than timing.
Trust yourself and go forth and prosper and as Toni Morrison once said, "Remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else."
Featured image courtesy of Dr. Key Hallmon