The trend of being your own boss or an entrepreneur has been exponentially increasing for the past year or two now and sometimes I wonder if outsiders really know all the work that goes into running a business, especially while being in school full-time. As a “solopreneur” myself, I want to share the entrepreneurship journey I’ve been on these past four years, as both a high school and college student.
To provide a better background and understanding of what I actually do as a business owner, I design (sometimes embellish) custom figure skating dresses and today my brand is known as Elite Skate Wear. I created this brand at the age of sixteen, while I was still a competitive elite-level figure skater competing at the Junior and Senior level. For the first two to three years, I only utilized eBay as my main selling platform because I was a much smaller brand at the time, carrying only about ten designs. I was initially meant to have a website up and running by the third year with the help of a family friend website builder, however, this did not happen and eventually I was too tired of waiting around (pro tip: don’t wait for someone to help, just go and do it yourself), so I created the entire website by myself (click here to check it out) during Summer 2017. What you see on the website, was all done and created by me. This includes all the photos, editing, listing, linking, and etc.
So let’s just skip forward to this year–2018. About five years later I am in full business mode, focusing on niching down to a target market, partnering with retail shops, packing every single dress with care and detailed packaging, managing the brand’s Instagram, responding to customer emails and inquiries, and the list goes on. On the other hand, I’m also managing the backend legal business stuff, such as financial statements, tax reports, and the time-consuming work.
As someone who started a business at a young age before the concept of entrepreneurship became such a millennial trend (not to bash, but it’s true), it urks me to see others jump on the bandwagon with the idea that it’s such low barrier of entry (well I guess it kind of is but…), thinking it’s such a simple task or that it’s all about “faking” it on social media as if it improves your credibility. The truth is, every hour I am not in class or studying, I am working on scaling my business and determining how to plan “content” well in advance so that I can still remain focused on school and other important aspects of my life. Some may think it’s kind of simple, but just because I am not showing the behind-the-scenes all the time (or how I share my personal closet as part of my inventory and business storage), doesn’t mean I’m not working full-time like many others who work a 9-5 job.
Other sacrifices that outsiders may not understand is the sacrifice I make on my college and social life experience. I relate this similarly to my previous sacrifices in both figure skating and tennis, which some competitive athletes may relate to. Often times, I am choosing to stay in on the weekends and weeknights to work on my business, both the backend and main function.
Entrepreneurship is a process and a long journey that has become quite a “trend” over the last few years. Yet, not many people realize the cost of being one, especially as a college student with other extracurricular/professional activities. This post is to share the truth behind my own business journey for a lot of those who are curious about what I do as an entrepreneur and how I balance it as a full-time student.