I remember when I was younger, I dreamt about my future empire. Oprah named hers after herself, Harpo Studios so I decided mine was going to be Elleirbag Inc. I was creative even then. But what I've come to notice recently is that I always pictured myself as Oprah's age when I started my business. Being 26 when I was started GD Commerce seemed outrageous, even to me. But earlier in the year I had attended a leadership conference where I met a man who was about my age and owned his own business, and seemed to be killing it. I had these role models along the way to show me that what I had dreamed of could come tree long before I felt ready to take the plunge.
Since I started my business, I've thrown myself into networking with other young, female entrepreneurs. I still talk to men who own businesses of course, it's so lovely to see myself and my fellow hustlers out there chasing our dreams. But now, I'm exposed to all of these young women who have a vision and are making mountains move to make sure that vision comes alive, and I felt like they were hard to find before.
But being a business owner isn't all sunshine and roses, sometimes I think I'm absolutely insane for taking this on. Owning your own business as a 27 year old woman definitely comes with its own challenges. My first full-time employee was a 33 year old man. There's a part of me that feels responsible for him and his well being (as I think any employer should feel about their employees) which of course is terrifying. I think a lot of my stress within the company comes from making sure I can pay my employees on a regular basis and I heard an interview with Bill Gates where he suggested that he had a similar fear when he started Microsoft. Of course he's willing to talk about this now. He's super successful and I assume Microsoft now has absolutely no challenges with its payroll.
But I think as a woman who owns a business, it's suggested that we have to have everything together. We can't show our fears or our frustrations and we certainly wouldn't talk about our challenges. We have to hold everything together for everyone else. We have to make sure that our responses are direct and affirmative but also kind and delivered in a strong but soft way. There is pressure to be everything to everyone. And of course this carries over from our personal lives so now not only do I have to worry about my business but I also have to worry about the business being able to function without me if I choose to have children down the road.
I don't believe that all of these things are struggles that women alone face, but they are struggles that I have faced in the last 5 months of growing GD Commerce. And I want these challenges to be known and to be understood because somewhere there may be a little girl dreaming about building her empire and I want her to know that she can do it but it won't be sunshine and rainbows all the time. However, there is one thing I can promise that little girl: it will be 100% worth it. The time spent running this company has been the most fulfilling time of my life and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.
I can't wait to see what's next for GD Commerce and I can't to see how I grow as a person, as a woman, as a boss, as a friend, as a daughter and as a person in this world as I navigate the challenges that come with owning my own business.