So, let me preface this post with some disclaimers.
I am a first-time founder. There is so much I do not know. There are many mistakes I have made.
Many of these lessons may seem painfully obvious to a seasoned entrepreneur or leader, but I thought it would still be helpful to document my early learnings to help out other aspiring or early founders.
I have always wanted to be honest and transparent about the “behind-the-scenes” of building a company, while providing some sort of solace to other female founders. What that means is that I plan to put everything out there — the good, the bad and the ugly.
Are you ready for a very honest list of lessons I’ve learned so far? I hope you are. So, grab your tea and a snack and let’s get on into it:
- You may get ghosted.
Let me elaborate. I want to make sure every other founder who has been in my position does not feel alone when it comes to ghosting.
So let’s rewind to the moment before we launched the Dreami MVP. I had this very rosy expectation that every one I would reach out to would be just as passionate and excited as I was about my platform.
Turns out, that was not the case. This may seem horridly obvious to anyone who is reading this, but it was absolutely soul-crushing for me. My soul truly was crushed every time a potential user would not respond to my enthusiastic emails. I took it so personally and spiraled into self-deprecation.
Look, it hurts to get ghosted, even in a business scenario. But I have been making some good progress in growing a thick skin. A few weeks prior, I would have wallowed around my apartment and allowed the dejection get to me. Now, I have gotten so immune to some correspondences going into a black hole that I just tell myself that it was not meant to be, and I move on.
It is ok.
2. You will get critical feedback. And that is a good thing.
This lesson is simple, but powerful. Feedback is going to be the absolute necessity for you to iterate quickly and make your company better. As an engineer, I remember learning about programming feedback loops into our control system design in order to fine-tune pressure and flow-rate settings. Without the feedback loop, there is a high risk for the system to break down.
It’s the same case for your company, no matter what stage you are at. If the feedback is critical, embrace it. Someone took the time out of their day to think through your current state, and how to make it better. That is basically striking gold for an entrepreneur.
I’m not going to lie, my heart does sink a tiny bit when I read something critical, but it’s gotten much easier to digest over time. It’s hard not to take it personally but you learn to embrace the most critical user feedback as time goes on.
3. You need to be confident in your vision and capabilities.
So I’m going to open up a little bit here. I have dealt with low self-esteem for quite some time. I remember my grade school teacher remarking on my shyness and lack of confidence on my report card. In fact, it has been an area needing some improvement only until a year or so ago.
And then I decided to start Dreami.
You can imagine that with all of the Forbes articles highlighting entrepreneurs who are ex-FAANG or alumni from Ivy League schools that I have definitely felt imposter syndrome. I would question my caliber and felt like a joke at some points, thinking I was not qualified enough to embark on this journey. Sometimes it felt as if others were insinuating the same.
Comparison is going to kill your ability to execute.
I’m not saying don’t look at the competitive landscape. But the act of constantly running a comparison algorithm through your mind as you size up other similar services or entrepreneurs is exhausting. Moreover, it’s not productive if it leads to inaction.
Here was the epiphany — if I doubt my capabilities, I am not embodying the energy I want Dreami to exude. I also thought to myself if I am not the one working on solving this problem, then who else will?
I want to set the example for anyone who thinks they don’t have the “right” qualifications that set themselves up for success to start their own venture. I remind myself of my namesake, “limitless”, any time I feel down. It is such a powerful word that has motivated me to push past the toughest mental obstacles I’ve faced.
4. You will come across incredibly kind people.
To all of our beta testers who took the time to get on a call with us, sign up on the platform, mentor, and provide feedback — you truly are my hero! I am in awe thinking about how people I have never met believe in my mission and want to see Dreami grow. Dreami is nothing without all of you.
Time is the most precious element we all have. For you to give some of your time to Dreami is quite possibly the biggest gift and lesson I’ve learned. People will take the time to talk to you and help you out more than you could imagine.
Alright, that’s all of the lessons I’ve got for now! Give it another month or so, and I’ll have some more to share. I hope that these posts help those who are in my position and delineate that you are not alone. Dreami is all about paying it forward, and I am not doing my job well if I don’t walk the walk.
So, here’s to being a little bit more transparent about what goes on behind-the-scenes and lifting up each other to achieve big dreams.