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3 Simple Tips From the CEO of a Multi-Million Fashion Retailer

A self-made CEO weighs in.

By PKpix/Shutterstock
By PKpix/Shutterstock

“Believe in yourself.”

It’s a concept we learn from the time we start kindergarten and (hopefully) stays with us the duration of our lives. But, as we all know, as you get older, reality starts to set in. Limits start to
set in. And we start limiting ourselves. Whether that’s with what school we attend, what we study, the career we’ve chosen, where we’ve chosen to live, etc. the endless world of
possibilities, the “sky’s the limit” mentality slowly starts to slip away.

But how do you regain that courageous and confident mindset to stop what you’re currently doing and make the switch to doing what you love? Especially in the work world, this could
seem nearly impossible. There’s so much at stake — family, life balance, industry, and of course, the inevitable pay cut you may see from moving from one industry to another. Maybe
you’re afraid you’ll tarnish the relationships with the colleagues you’ve grown to respect throughout the years.

You have to think big, but also realistically. I had to muster up the strength to start a business, my dream business, with my husband, Chris, nearly six short years ago. What started out as a small, Kentucky-based boutique panned out into a $75+ million dollar company, something out of my wildest dreams. Did I anticipate this to happen at the rate it did? No. Was I surprised? Yes. But am I happy it turned out the way it did? Heck yes. What started as my knack for fashion and social media spiraled into my livelihood — with my spouse. It’s like a dream come true. And we do it from our hometown of Bowling Green, Kentucky — certainly not the first place that comes to mind when trying to disrupt the fashion industry. Sometimes, it almost seems too good to be true. But without having the strength to take that leap of faith a few years ago, I could still be in the same monotonous routine I was in and none of this incredible business would have happened.

But what advice can I impart to everyone else whose grappling with the decision to keep doing what they’re doing, because it’s stable, secure, and familiar, or leave it all behind and embark towards the unknown?

Plan

Save money. Pinpoint your goals and what exactly you want to do. Know exactly why you want to do it. If it’s to escape the simple 9-5 routine, you might be setting yourself up for disappointment. When you first start working for yourself, prepare to work overtime, all the time.

Do your homework

You should already be doing this, but I’ll say it again. Study your industry inside and out. Know your competition. Know their strengths and weaknesses. Know your own strengths and weaknesses. There’s a lot that goes into running a business. Without the proper knowledge of how a business works, you could be destined for failure from the get-go.

Be honest with yourself

Dream big but don’t reach too high too fast. Be realistic. If you aren’t, you may end up disappointed. Success doesn’t happen overnight — it’s a
process. Spreading yourself too thin to accomplish too many things too fast will lead to mistakes. And this goes full circle into my first point: plan. Be honest with yourself as you plan. How much will it cost to start your own business? How much longer should you stay at your current job before it’s “safe” to say goodbye and focus full-time on your own projects? Honesty is the best policy, even when it’s to yourself.

Originally published on The Ladders.

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