People say that everything you need to know you learn in Kindergarten.
Well, in the world of business, think of the pitch process as Preschool, and that first year after you secure your seed round 'Kindergarten.'
Rachael McCrary is the founder of Jewel Toned, the first meant-to-be-seen shapewear company. She is passionate about making body-positive lingerie for all women.
Rachael has over 15 years of experience within the field of fashion, but being the CEO of a company has been quite a new experience for her.
Being able to connect with her at Techweek LA, I sat down with Rachael to get the top 6 first-hand lessons she learned in her first year as a CEO:
1. No matter what your degree is in, your job is now sales and marketing.
As a fashion industry veteran with years of executive experience, Rachael was not afraid to start her own line. However, it was surprising that her primary experience in fashion, while the main heavy lifting for getting the company off the ground, wasn't what was necessary to make her company succeed. Once Rachael's proof of concept was secured, she realized that scaling her business takes a different skillset.
80% of her job is now sales and marketing, the end. "You can have the greatest product in the world, but if no one knows about it, it's not worth much," telling the world you exist, constantly revising a marketing strategy and onboarding is now the extent of your existence.
Your skillset made your company your company, but to scale, get strapped in for a crash course in growth hacking.
2. Not everything that glitters equals growth.
Know when to nerd out, be a hermit, and get to coding.
Everyone will give you unsolicited advice about e-commerce growth, mostly about how all women's companies generate revenue from email marketing, Facebook ads and Pinterest: these platforms are not your company's savior.
Each one takes time, babysitting, and its own voice--and all have an expensive learning curve. Sure, once you crack them it's helpful, but Rachael actually found a more genuine consumer with old-fashioned guerilla marketing, organic influencers, and homemade videos.
3. You're on your own.
Employees care, investors care, but at the end of the day: you're stuck with you.
No one cares about your company as much as you do, not even your mom.
You're stuck with the customer questions on holidays.
A single email can turn a Sunday Brunch into a frenzy.
Everyone says they want to help, and will do whatever it takes (and that's probably a genuine sentiment) as long as it's only "medium" on the difficulty scale, and occurs during business hours. Just like when you were a teenager: they'll never get it ("they" applies to just about everyone).
4. Your shapewear has more control than you do.
You can't control everything. If you've gotten this far as an entrepreneur, you've probably been told at some point that you're a control freak.
No matter what you do, even if everything is executed perfectly, the buyer could quit right when you came to a verbal agreement, a hurricane could knock over the boat with your Target order, some hackers could take all the servers in California the day your big press hits.
Drive the bus, but also take roadblocks in stride.
5. Bring everything in house.
Every single employee should be a utility player.
You don't need a bunch of managers, because there's no one to manage.
However, they do need to be at the top of their game at their respective level and be up-and-coming superstars. Brainstormers and over-thinkers just don't work.
You need execution.
Agencies are for Coca-Cola until you're there.
6. It's just as rewarding as giving birth.
Yes: having a new company is like preparing for battle, but the rewards are limitless.
Entrepreneurship is educational and thrilling. The highs of the roller coaster are almost euphoric. There seems to be no greater satisfaction than letting ideas incubate and then giving birth to them.
Putting creativity out into the universe that did not previously exist is intensely satisfying; the level of satisfaction equates to the level of commitment.
What lessons have you learned in your first year of entrepreneurship? I'd love to learn more. Comment below!