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My first entrepreneurial year in review
"Happy one-year 'entrepreneurversary' to me!"

entrepreneurship personal branding personal stories storytelling-truthtelling Sep 18, 2023
Karolien Vanhelden - Personal Branding - First entrepreneurversary

Today I celebrate my one-year 'entrepreneurversary'. I officially registered my business on the first of September 2022 (which I celebrated with my most important supporter Tim with breakfast as you can see on the photo). But I released my personal branding to the world on September 15th 2022. 

It has been one year already. One year since I took the leap. One year of proving myself that I can do it. One year of growing into my new lifestyle. One year of constantly falling, learning, pivoting and rising. Honestly, I visualized how my first year would go in 100 different ways. The unfolded reality is totally different but nonetheless enriching.

In true 'year in review' style I share with you 10 insights I gained from my first year as an entrepreneur

     1. Become more of who you already are

This doesn’t come as a surprise, right? Something to do with ‘Practice what you preach’… Understanding my own personality helped me as an entrepreneur to tackle my business differently and to be mild to myself. Your personality is your ultimate differentiation. It gives you a natural competitive advantage and makes you fascinating. Nobody can replicate you! Because it worked for me, I cannot wait to uncover your personality and to make that differentiator work for you as well…

     2. You can do anything, but not everything

I really believe in the philosophy of achieving anything you set your mind to. But the reality is that you cannot do everything nor should you. I have a very long ideas list, but I need to choose my priorities. Making a choice and focusing will enable your growth. In addition to that, you will never rise to the top by being all things to all people. Choose what your heart desires...

     3. Some days you will question what you are doing

I must admit that it hasn’t always been milk and honey. Every so often entrepreneurship will throw you a curveball. Doubts and disappointments are no strangers. That offering you worked so hard on to get in the end an apology (“Sorry, unexpectedly we have other priorities.”). That content piece you put your heart in but that almost no one read or downloaded. Not to mention all the things you do out of your comfort zone (like for me going to big networking events for example). On those days you wonder why you are doing what you are doing and why you always need to choose the difficult path…

     4. Some days you will feel invincible

But luckily other days you are ready to conquer the world. You have the feeling you have gold in your hands. Extreme highs are also part of an entrepreneurial journey. When your client is over the moon and you really believe you made a difference for that person. When you have the next big idea. When that company finally says ‘yes’ to your proposal. And also, as other business owners can attest, living and working on your own terms as an entrepreneur is kind of addictive.

     5. Entrepreneurship is not (rocket) science

Growing a business is not a scientific field. There are no steps you must follow meticulously that will guarantee you instant success. It’s not rocket science either, because it is often also about common sense and intuition. Let me say, it is more of a skill. Just like driving. Only reading about a car or knowing the traffic rules don’t make you a skilled driver. You learn entrepreneurship by doing.

     6. Entrepreneurship is personal development

As an entrepreneur you must dare to look in the mirror. You must be willing to constantly challenge and expand your (self-)knowledge. You will need to learn and unlearn certain skills and show resilience. You must be ready to become a master in crisis management. You must make stepping out of your comfort zone a habit. You will definitely grow as a person… Mindset is everything!

     7. You will underestimate yourself and overestimate the other

When impostor syndrome lurks around the corner, I question if what I will offer to my client will be eye-opening enough for that person, if I will have enough impact in his/her eyes, if it will be renewing enough. It’s normal that you will underestimate yourself from time to time. But don’t forget, you are the expert. You know and have lived what you are talking about. You are at least one step further than the other person in front of you. Maybe we should replace 'underestimating' by 'underpromising and overdelivering'? Because that is what entrepreneurs (should) do…

     8. It’s not all about the money

Building a business creates a value that isn’t monetary at all: a warm social network and a bunch of learning experiences about life and work. Of course, you are looking for financial security and maybe you want to get rich. But entrepreneurship is so much more enriching than money only.

     9. You are not alone

Speaking of that warm social network, being an entrepreneur can sometimes feel very lonely. In the end it is about stepping out on your own and choosing your own way. But to cope with loneliness you can surround yourself with cheerleaders, people who celebrate your efforts, give you a pat on the back and a shoulder to cry on. You can find yourself a sparring partner, because two heads are better than one. This might be a peer entrepreneur or a professional. Remember that it doesn’t hurt to ask…

     10. Growth doesn't happen overnight

Growth takes time. Results don’t happen overnight, no matter how great your efforts and/or talents. You don't gain financial security or freedom quickly. You are in this for the long haul. I must admit I am very impatient. Not to have more money, but to have more impact. So this is a very important insight I need to be reminded of on a regular basis…

This one year mark makes me realize that starting as an entrepreneur was the most challenging but rewarding decision I could make. I have met great people and learned a lot (about myself, about business, about life). It allowed me to be more myself and to follow my dreams. Of course, this wouldn’t be possible without my biggest cheerleaders, my lovely daughter Lilly and my solid rock Tim. I couldn’t be more grateful…

Happy first entrepreneurversary to me (and to the 3 of us)!

Follow my advice: Become more of who you already are... Your personality is your ultimate natural differentiation. Let me uncover what makes you fascinating. Have a look at my program Your Personal Brand kickstart with Fascinate® (Available in Nederlands and English!).

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