Wisdom I Didn't Expect from my First Year of Entrepreneurship
by Sophia Khan
When we feel called upon to begin the journey of entrepreneurship, it is often a calling to something much larger than what we anticipate. We are, in fact, being guided towards a higher potential, and starting one’s own business becomes a platform to express and allow for that expansion. I learned this not long after I opened my virtual gallery of travel inspired art, and now, reflecting back at my first year of entrepreneurship, am sharing four gems of wisdom that have allowed me to grow in ways I had never anticipated.
Living frugally is not about living a life of lack, but one of abundance. Because I no longer had the security of a regular paycheck, I became more thoughtful with what I did bring into my home and life. As a result, each possession became all the more meaningful and valued. Having found a sense of luxury in owning less, I also became more open to giving away things that I no longer needed and buying something new, in turn, also gave me the motivation to give something away.
Sometimes dreams are planted within us, not for the sake of being materialized in the exact same form that we see them, but to serve another, higher need. I strongly believe that we must be open to being given what is right for us at any given time in our life. Several months ago, I had a strong idea for a book related to my business. The entire process of polishing the idea, researching, preparing the book proposal, and sending it out into the word was highly gratifying.
As it turned out, the timing of the project overlapped with a difficult time in my personal life. Having this as something to hold onto gave me a much needed base; a center, that would keep me grounded and help give me strength through it all. While I do hope that the project will someday lead to a published book and will continue to work towards that, I am deeply grateful for what it has given me thus far, and feel it has already served a large part of its purpose.
Because the businesses we begin serve a need or express a value that we feel deeply aligned with, we become more authentic not only in our work, but in other areas of our life as well. I once learned, in a poetry workshop, that it is not in the generalities, but in the specificities of our beliefs and experiences that we relate most to others. When I took the chance, in my business, to express my values more vividly, I resonated more deeply with my audience and found the process more gratifying. The reverse is also true. I believe there is an energy in how we communicate with others, which gets easily conveyed. If I write copy, even a short Facebook post, that seems out of alignment with my voice, people tend to not respond well. This further encourages me to be unapologetic in expressing my core values and beliefs.
Interestingly, the more we practice this authenticity muscle, the more it grows in other areas of our life. It was living in this newly polished mindset of sincerity and being honest with myself that helped give me the insight and courage to leave a personal relationship which had not been working for a long time.
The word ‘solopreneur’ may sound romantic, but it’s an oxymoron. Many small business owners, including myself, start out and enjoy being the sole employee of their company. However, the idea that we work alone or for ourselves is misleading. Rather, we work to share our unique visions with a community of like minded people who we can be of service to and who inspire us. It works both ways.
There is a beautiful range of relationships that this has allowed for in my business. This includes not only clients and patrons, but those who have mentored me, those who open their inboxes to my creative journal, those whose businesses and values are similar to my own, and those who show their appreciation for my work be it through social media or a personal note. I am grateful for how each of these enrich, and bring meaning and unique value to the work that I do.
Anne Lamott writes, “[T]ake the action, and the insight follows.” Having acted upon my calling to entrepreneurship, I feel truly blessed for what is has revealed about me and how it has become a source of wisdom and guidance for various aspect of my life. I look forward to remaining open to what lies ahead, from a new-found sense of authenticity, courage, service, gratitude, and wonder.
I would like to acknowledge the work and writings of Diana Strinati Baur, Julia Cameron, and Danielle LaPorte. These have helped me see the truths that I share here and have been a tremendous source of guidance and inspiration.
About Sophia Khan
Sophia Khan is a Watercolor Artist who has practiced and taught Architecture and Historic Preservation. She loves traveling solo, and has lived in Florence, Italy. Sophia specializes in painting travel mementos, which celebrate one of the most exhilarating, memorable, and often transformative time in one’s life. These watercolor are painted either from her own travel photographs and memories, or commissioned using the travel photographs of her patrons. Her work is in private collections in the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia.