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Firm for the Culture | I had to fail.
The biggest lessons come from the toughest failures. | I am what an Intellectual Property Attorney looks like.
Ever heard the saying, “a hard head makes a soft bottom?”
No, this Founders’ letter is not about corporal punishment…although I have some tales to tell on that front.
Instead, this idiom is a constant reminder that lessons can be learned in one of two manners: the easy way or the hard way.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve had to learn lessons the hard way…particularly after much toil, turmoil, and tumult.
After years of getting knocked down by the same thing over and over again.
After promising that the last time was the “last time.”
But you’ve made it over.
For today’s Founder’s Letter, we’re going to make the lesson learning a little easier for you.
Grab a notebook and a pen, we’re going to break down three lessons learned from some of the biggest failures experienced during my own entrepreneurship journey.
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As a few of you know, Firm for the Culture is my second business venture.
My first business is the First Generation Purpose Project, an initiative designed to help first gen professionals navigate life and career by utilizing the grit and tenacity that is already in them.
I still remember the day I launched my business; with my dear friend and business coach Titilayo Tinubu-Ali supporting me, I announced that I was “open for business” and sent numerous pitches to major universities and organizations.
The pitch was simple, I would teach their students and young professionals how to succeed in Corporate America.
Indeed, after navigating the corporate landscape as a young attorney on Wall Street, I was confident my experiences in money management, self care, and boundary setting would be just the thing First Generation Professionals would need to start their career on the right foot.
But while the idea was great, the execution was rocky.
My first speaking opportunity came from Yale Law School, and that opened the door to more opportunities at the United States Department of Commerce, Northwestern Law School, and many other dynamic places.
But I had no speaker’s agreement, which meant I had to rely on the “good word” of the organizers to receive compensation for my work.
I had no systems or workflows in place, which put me at risk for appearing unprofessional and disorganized in my service delivery.
I had no intellectual property protections in place, which meant that those who were “inspired” by my work could replicate portions of my speech and disseminate them without my permission.
In launching a business, you need more than a “good idea” to succeed.
You need a structure.
Your structure is the very foundation that’ll allow you to implement, scale, and repeat.
One of the biggest lessons we teach to our 235+ clients is this: Prepare for the Overflow.
Drawing on the days as a first time business owner, I significantly underestimated just how much my idea for social impact would resonate with others.
So when the overflow came, I simply wasn’t ready to receive it.
Perhaps you’re in a similar space: just months after launching your skin care brand, a huge supplier wants to carry your product.
Or you’ve created a marketplace centering the goods of founders of color, and now Diddy wants to buy your company (shout out to our dynamic client, Khadijah Robinson).
Or you created a cool interactive game focused on sustainability, and now you’re recognized as a thought leader in the movement for net-zero carbon emissions.
A great way to prepare for this?
It may seem like you’re operating in obscurity, like the investments you’re making into yourself and your business are for naught.
But keep going.
You’re establishing the foundation upon which your business can receive the overflow.
Coaching gave me the “edge” needed to scale Firm for the Culture sustainably.
Indeed, when I started Firm for the Culture, I joined dynamic mastermind groups to understand the structures, systems, and mindset required to build a law firm focused on diverse founders and social impact organizations.
Because “I didn’t know what I didn’t know,” I wanted to make sure that I was delivering top notch services to our clients while still remaining economically viable.
But after four years of back to back (to back) coaching, I decided to take a break to focus on implementation.
While the thought of not having my weekly mastermind sessions is scary to say the least, I now have time to watch the recorded webinars gathering dust in my drop box, revisit and level up our systems, and draft standard operating procedures to support our new team members.
But most importantly, I now have the chance to reflect before I go to the next level of my purpose.
Entrepreneurship is a long and meandering marathon.
Breaks to reset, recenter, and recalibrate are necessary to stay standing in the long run.
As I continue on this entrepreneurial journey, I’ve accepted that many of the insights and lessons I’ve received could only come after undergoing hard but necessary experiences.
But even with a couple of bruises in place, I’ve become more confident, more patient, and more gracious with myself and others.
Entrepreneurship is, in the end, a personal development journey.
As you continue on your own journey, I hope you take these lessons to heart.
We at Firm for the Culture are here to guide, support, and walk alongside you every step of the way.
What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from failure?
Share in the comments below!
And when you’re ready to protect your unique contribution to the culture, including protecting the bold brand you’re building, reach out to us.
Thanks for reading.
See you next time.