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12 Lessons I Learned in 12 Months of Starting a Business
Wait . . . am I in my entrepreneur era?
It’s my birthday!
Well, more like an anniversary.
I joined’s Jungle as @BowTiedFawn on December 5th, 2021.
I’ve started two businesses while treading water at my W2 since then.
One year ago, I didn’t even know what e-commerce was.
No one tell Bull, okay? Pinky promise!
One year has made me unrecognizable.
I am wealthier, stronger, faster, and smarter . . .
but most importantly . . .
I am happier.
Covering many different silos of life and business, here are the 12 biggest lessons I've learned in the last year:
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1) Opportunity only matters if you take advantage of it
It took me months to learn how to compartmentalize.
Anonymity (or perhaps rather pseudonymity) gives you license to throw one million different strategies at the wall, analyze what sticks, and then continuously replicate it.
It is an opportunity to bring the best version of yourself without fear of failure.
If I wanted to, I could nuke Fawn right now and walk away unscathed.
Therein lies freedom.
More importantly, therein lies the opportunity of a lifetime:
Winning the generational wealth transfer.
2) Act now, develop later
Planning is useless when you don’t have the background to inform foresight anyways.
Older folks have the advantage of experience on their side.
But if you’re young like me, your advantage is the long runway.
Try one million different things.
When one of them shows promise, double down and develop it.
You can always iterate, and iterate, and iterate.
Oh, and you’re not working hard enough.
You’re never working hard enough, and you’re making excuses.
Figure out the rest later.
3) “Your creations last longer than their criticism”
I owe this one to Dakota Robertson:
Everyone is so worried about others will think.
Even writing pseudonymously, I used to take criticism personally.
Now desensitized, I just laugh.
Be proud & puff out your chest.
Sure, people are talking.
That means they’re watching.
That means your work is worthy of attention.
As long as you’re providing for your people, nothing else matters.
4) Set firm boundaries
This reframe came from the e-commerce legend @BowTiedJester:
Not to be cliche, but what they say is true:
“No” is a complete sentence.
Outside of clients, you do not owe anyone anything.
You only owe excellence to yourself.
5) Give your time freely and often
Some of the greatest opportunities I’ve received as Fawn have come from freely offering my time and expertise to people as my schedule allowed.
Sure, you deserve to be paid for your labor.
But do not be so narrow-minded and time-limited that you think returns only come in the form of fiat.
A sense of satisfaction that your mission is a net positive on the world will give you motivation to keep building even on the gloomiest days.
Further, developing goodwill with the right connections is a gift that you will eventually give to future you someday.
Just . . . do good.
Every single day.
It will come back to you.
6) Develop structured content funnels
This one is on the more technical side.
One of the biggest mistakes I made in the beginning was not streamlining my content creation.
Long-form content can be condensed into threads and tweets which can then be repurposed into other media channels later.
Figure out a posting schedule that works for you and stick to it.
This is the biggest problem I see with new people in the Jungle - writing a thread everyday for a week then nothing else for a month.
You need to be consistent and accept that your time horizon will always be longer than you would ideally wish.
Yeah, it sucks.
7) The mute button is your best friend
Immediately mute tweets that start to pop off.
Nothing good happens in the comments after mainstream audiences find your tweets.
People will always find a way to intentionally misunderstand you.
And you gotta love them for it - this is how we win the game eventually.
Mute people that even slightly irritate you.
Ignore pointless DMs, and put your phone on do not disturb.
Your only priorities are your clients.
Out of sight, out of mind.
8) There is no “authority”
The internet (tbh, the whole world) is a lawless wasteland.
There are no report cards here.
There is no one to tell you whether you’re doing things correctly or not.
You need to learn to thrive in ambiguity.
No one is going to hold your hand and build your business for you.
You need to try, then fail, then try again, and then fail some more before you figure things out.
If there are no report cards, then there are no repercussions.
Do whatever you want so long as you’re acting in good faith.
Just make sure you’re winning.
9) “Likes ain’t cash”
I owe this one to JK Molina.
Your only metric for whether your efforts are working is the cashflow into your bank account.
So drown out the noise.
Are you building something meaningful to take care of your people?
This question is my north star.
This is all that matters to me, point blank.
10) Your network is your most valuable asset
No man (er, hopefully a woman?) is an island.
You need likeminded people around you.
There are true legends in every industry lurking around Twitter.
Be kind to everyone that is, at minimum, neutral to you.
Don’t be shy - slide in DMs when you have value to add.
Thank people when their work helps you.
Trust, good connections and good karma always come back around.
11) Find a way to stay in the game
I owe this one to Alex Feinberg.
My life fell apart at the start of Q2.
I laid on the couch consumed with grief, barely moving or eating, for weeks.
If you haven’t already read the story, click here.
In response, Alex told me something that would change my life forever.
“Business is just a game of longevity. Your only priority right now is finding a way to stay in the game.”
There are no fancy tricks here.
Just grit, optimism (“nature’s painkiller”), and a long time horizon.
Develop a consistent, moderate dopamine source you can rely on such that you still get high off a win (motivation) but bad weeks or months don’t take you out of the game completely.
12) Don’t lose your sauce
Anyone who has ever come to me in DMs for advice about building a personal brand has already heard this line.
If you’ve been around since December 2021, then you know that I have the exact same sense of humor that I did back then.
Despite my online persona having gone through significant evolution, I’ll keep meme-ing and punning until the day I nuke Fawn.
That silly stuff?
That’s my sauce.
Sure, people initially come for my skincare alpha.
But they stay because of familiarity with who I am as a person as we build our community.
Besides, if I didn’t have fun being Fawn with my silly antics, then I would have lost motivation ages ago.
But I’m still here.
Thank you being here with me.
All my love,