Things I’ve Learned About Myself As An Entrepreneur

It really WAS all a dream.

I didn’t always know I was going to own my own business (in fact, I specifically didn’t want to for several years), but once I started, I knew it would change me as a person. In my very early years as an entrepreneur, I was certain that once my business was established, my self confidence–something I struggled with during my teens and most of my 20s–would go up. And go up it did! Skyrocket, you might say. Owning a business is a big part of who I am, and I’ve learned a lot about myself in the past 11+ years. I of course feel like sharing that, so let’s get this thing going.

I have a love/hate relationship with routines. I agree with the idea that routines help with productivity, which is why I have many of them. But also, I have an overwhelming need for freedom and sometimes routines–even though I created them myself–make me feel like I’m not able to do what I want. Or they feel boring. I realize this makes no sense, but a lot of things about me don’t make sense on paper. I’ll continue to do my routines because part of me (probably my Taurus side) needs them to feel anchored. But another part of me (that’s gotta be my Gemini side) is always whispering Change it up! or Do we need to do this? It’s hard being born on the cusp of two zodiac signs, I’ll tell ya! I think the compromise is to periodically assess my routines and see if they are really helping with my productivity–like my morning coffee-and-blogging routine–or are something I enjoy, like my call-Mom-or-Dad-when-walking-around-doing-errands routine. If I decide that a routine doesn’t work, I adjust it or eliminate it. That keeps both sides of me happy, and that’s all a Temini can really ask for.

I prefer eating in the car. I’m always starving after I leave a job. 95% of the time, I have a Quest Bar in my purse for that reason. Now, it makes sense that I would eat that on my drive home if I’m going to be in the car for a while, but what about if I’ll be home in ten minutes? Turns out that doesn’t matter. There is something I like about eating food like that in the car. I suspect it’s a multitasking thing, as I always feel like I have so much to do and nowhere close to enough time to do it, so multitasking with simple things saves me time. But it’s little quirk that I definitely didn’t have in the pre-AB Beauty years.

I’m not a night owl or an early bird. Allow me to explain. I often work until 11:00pm and I rarely get out of bed before 7:30am. If a friend wants to meet up with me, they know they only have about a 2% chance of getting me out the door after 7:00pm. If that same friend wants to meet for breakfast though, they know it ain’t happening before 10:00am. Makes no sense, right? But hear me out. First of all, I don’t want to work until 11:00pm every night, but that’s necessary for me during most of the year. I need some time to unwind after my work day has ended, so I usually end up going to bed around 12:00am. I’m my happiest self on between seven and eight hours of sleep, which brings me to a wake up time of between 7:00am – 8:00am. On days when I don’t have appointments in the morning, I have a stretching-then-crunches-then-coffee-then-blogging routine, which takes anywhere from 30 – 60 minutes, depending on how hard my inbox is mean muggin’ me while I attempt to ignore it. Between showering, answering the inevitable time sensitive emails and texts and doing a full makeup on myself (if that’s on the docket), another 60 – 90 minutes is gone. So getting out the door for 10:00am is tough. On the flip side, if a friend wants to meet for dinner at 8:00pm, that’s usually around 12 hours into my work day, so the idea of getting ready then changing into Social Mode is daunting (but catch me for Happy Hour at 4:00pm before I start to fade, and now we’re talkin’). I’m sure some people think I’m lame because I won’t go out later at night or lazy because I don’t do early mornings, but I’m not willing to force myself to do something when I’m exhausted from a long day or from having to wake up much earlier than usual. I wish I could re-set my body clock to go to bed early and wake up early, because that feels more productive to me. But this is the schedule I’ve been on for a while, so deal with it 😉

I really enjoy talking with people. I consider myself to be an ambivert. That means I’m equal parts extrovert and introvert, so I’m energized by both being around people and by having my alone time. Sometimes I go into a job tired, either because I didn’t sleep well or because I had to be up early to get there. The exhaustion never hits me while I’m doing makeup though, and I think it’s because I usually chat with people as I’m doing their makeup, and that keeps me going. I’ve had countless great conversations with clients over the years. I’ve learned a lot of new things, laughed a ton and bonded with clients over topics from being Italian to old school hip hop to having a parent with cancer. I’m not good at small talk, but apparently the one on one 45 – 60 minute conversations at wedding jobs and the 10 – 30 minute conversations at corporate and commercial gigs are my jam. This sounds weird to say, but when I check my own makeup after doing several makeup applications in a row, I often notice that I have a little glow. It’s not a makeup thing, but my skin somehow looks better and, cheesy as it sounds, I have a sparkle in my eyes. Maybe it’s from doing makeup, something I’m passionate about, but I have a feeling it’s more from connecting with people. I guess I knew that I loved talking with people on some level before I owned a business, but this career has really emphasized that for me.

One of my favorite brides and I speculating on how many more cases of beer the groomsmen would bring on the trolley. And then we talked about Biggie for a while. Photo: Trevor Holden Photography

I burn out about five times a year, then I rise again. You have to quickly recover when you run a business, so I do.  I’m not able to take full days off and haven’t since I started AB Beauty, but I can do the occasional two hour days when I’m away or have friends or family visiting. On a regular day, it helps if I take lot of little breaks (15 minutes here to watch part of a video comedy podcast, 15 minutes there to move the side table in my living room for the 90th time, 20 minutes to text-coach a friend through a dating crisis, etc.). I also try to get together with a friend at least once a week. Being with the awesome people in my life helps keep me going. Another thing I do is try to take a couple trips a year to recharge. If I plan it out, bust my ass getting as much possible done in the two weeks before I leave and prepare for a week’s worth of punishment work when I return, I can get away with working only one or two hours a day while I’m away. For the last two years, I’ve gone to the Montreal Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in late July for a few days. That’s about the mid-point of peak wedding season, so it’s the ideal time for a breather. This year, I’m going to Ireland at the end of October, towards the end of peak season, so perfect timing. In previous years, I’ve gone to Nashville, Puerto Rico and Ft. Lauderdale to get away. And since 2017, I’ve been breathing out a three-ish month long sigh of relief during my winters in Charleston. I of course still work while I’m there–this business isn’t going to run itself, darling–but I slash my work weeks from 80 or 90 hours to around 40, because I don’t take clients, work on any shoots or do trainings while I’m in Charleston. The reality is, I am going to continue to burn out until I can get in place the people I need to reduce my workload. But my breaks–whether they are 15 minutes, Happy Hour-length, three day trips with two hour work days or three months with 50% less work hours–are essential to my well-being.

I am very sensitive to sounds. I wasn’t always this way. I have memories of studying in college with my dorm room door open, Ludacris blasting and the constant sound of AIM notifications. (Ding! You have a message from a bad boy.) I worked a series of office jobs in my 20s, and as an Office Manager, Admin Assistant, Secretary or Receptionist, there were often a lot of people in and out of my work space, asking for information, gossiping with coworkers or requesting that I take care of something they could easily do themselves. But once I started working for myself–my best and worst boss yet–something changed. I take my job very seriously and believe that my clients and Independent Contractors deserve clear and thorough information from  me, but I have a hard time focusing with noise in the background. For that kind of work, I need a quiet environment. Music, loud construction noises nearby or non-stop dog barking kills my concentration. I’m fine with noise when I’m in public, but when I’m trying to work or sleep, I hear everything, and it is maddening. Air conditioners and sound machines help, but when I can’t block irritating sounds out, I kind of lose it. Another fun fact I learned about myself (or really, developed) since I’ve owned a business.

I can’t do shit if I’m tired. I’ll never understand how some people can operate on very little sleep. If I don’t get enough sleep, my day is shot. My brain is useless on limited shut-eye and it’s a true struggle to get anything done when I’m in that mode. I may deprive myself of days off, but I never purposely deprive myself of sleep. That’s why I let myself sleep as late as my body wants on days that I don’t have morning jobs or appointments (and why I don’t make morning appointments, if I can help it). I remember sometimes staying out until 1:00am then waking up at 6:30am to go to work in my early 20s, and having no issues. So maybe it’s age, but I could never do that now. I’ve learned this about myself since I started my business, and luckily I know what I need to do to prevent constant exhaustion.

I don’t care what people think of me. I’m not saying that to be a badass. It’s just a realization I had several years ago about how I live my life the way I want to and nothing disapproving anyone says or implies about that bothers me. It’s a freeing feeling! I was extremely self conscious in my teens and early 20s, so to come to the point where no one else’s opinions of me or my lifestyle can even come close to bothering me is true progress. If someone thought I was mean and rude and inconsiderate, I wouldn’t like that because I know those things aren’t true–not because someone thought or said that and it bothered me. You know that quote “What others think of you is none of your business”? Yeah, that.

I’m not competitive. Well, at least not with others. I know who my competitors are in business, but I don’t obsess about how they appear to be doing. I’m only obsessed with my own numbers and how I am doing compared to the previous year. This crosses over into my personal life too. Even when I’m out running, if I’m running with someone (which I generally avoid, but have been tricked into) or another runner goes by me, I don’t have any strong urges to run fast or longer than them. But when I had a Nike SportWatch, I was always competing against my last run. I would feel shitty if I ran slower than the previous run or didn’t log in as many miles. It was actually a blessing when my SportWatch stopped working. Owning a business has brought the subject of competitiveness to the forefront and I’m glad it did. It’s made me realize that I’m really only competitive with myself, which I think is a good thing.

Being an entrepreneur has been life-changing for me. It’s made me turn into the most confident, self-sufficient version of myself, and Young Allison needed that to happen. (Creeping-Up-On-Middle-Age-Allison does miss Young Allison’s skin elasticity though.) I think knowing about yourself–your strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes–helps you build a lifestyle that you’re happy with. And if you’re happy with your lifestyle, you’ve got a leg up on a lot people.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

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