Founder’s Confessions

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On Saturday, November 17th, we graduated our 3rd round of Knit Marketing Interns, and as is the knintern trend, Ricky and Haydee far exceeded our expectations. Read more about their presentations here.

I’ve been out of town since August 26th, working on Sharice Davids’ congressional campaign in Kansas. It was an incredible experience and amazing to have witnessed such an important moment in history. I learned a lot, made new friends, and got a window into the wild world of politics.

However, needless to say, I wasn’t exactly working remotely for Knit Marketing, let alone running the company. Ricky said in his final presentation that Adewole was the “nurturing mother,” which we all agreed makes me the distant father who only calls once a month.

No longer ridden with guilt, I feel like I can pretty much retire early. Because after leaving my team for over 2 months, I came back to a well-oiled machine and 2 graduates that learned everything I would have taught them. It’s a proud moment and we can all give ourselves a pat on the back. Adewole for running the company and training our interns, Jorge and Yesenia for providing support when needed and modeling our company culture, and Haydee and Ricky for taking on the challenge of the internship and diving right in. I’m congratulating myself too, because I planted those seeds. I taught them to fish, and they’re flourishing.

I’m so proud, so moved, and so inspired to continue to grow the company. If you’re reading our blog, you’re most likely family, so I’ll let you in on you the dark part of this journey.

It’s hard.

I love my team and truly believe we’re building something meaningful and valuable. But sometimes it feels like #TeamKnit are the only ones who agree, because after countless calls and meetings, our client list is only slowly growing. Add to that the pressures of just living, trying to run and grow a business is close to impossible (not to mention all the mumbo jumbo about work/life balance – who has time for that??). All those statistics about only 1% of small businesses succeeding are really starting to sink in. How long are you supposed to sacrifice everything for the hope that one day that trickle will turn into a flood?

The challenge of course, is that we have something really really good here. It took me moving to the Midwest, but I see that now more than ever. We have something that works without the founder. How many small businesses can say that? We have a whole repeatable and scalable training program that educates and grooms young digital marketers. And it’s not just the training that works. Those 17 to 19-year-olds have been running multiple social accounts and websites for organizations and businesses all over Los Angeles, and actually internationally, with little input from me. Of course, they’ve had top-notch guidance and supervision from Adewole, so they weren’t completely abandoned, but the point remains: Jorge, Yesenia, Ricky, and Haydee took everything they’ve learned and have been successfully executing.

So why is that a challenge? It’s a tough spot, because we have something really good, but it might not be enough. These are the things I’m not supposed to say out loud, and even less in a public space such as a blog that can be shared across the internets. I’m supposed to fake it until I become it, right Amy Cuddy? Or as my consistently supportive husband tells me – I should be talking up all the amazing things we’ve done, instead of making myself and company seem small. (He’s not wrong, and neither is Cuddy, but those are some thoughts about being a female founder for another time).

Here we are. We have a good thing. We have good people and we can see a good future. The issue is getting through the present.

Unfortunately, as a founder, against all wisdom, I haven’t been paying myself for almost 2 years, so except for some help from family, as the sole investor in the company, the stream has all but dried up. I learned earlier this week at an event put on by the Mayor’s Office for LA women entrepreneurs, that most women self fund their businesses (only 4% of all venture capital goes to women! (Oh! If you want to read what I think about VCs, click here.) ). Makes sense. We want to make a change, don’t see anyone around to help, so we decide to do it on our own. But if that doesn’t work out, at some point we have to decide where we’re  going to put our energy.

All of this is to say that starting a business is not hard. Even running a business is not that hard if you’ve had management experience, are a good enough problem solver, and are willing to learn (all day every day). Growing a business is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, and I signed up for this!

What’s next? Besides looking for part time work, we’re strategizing on where to place our energy in 2019. We’ve discovered that schools and education-related organizations need our help and we’re good at helping them, so we’re pursuing ways to provide professional development for the school district and potentially scale our training. We also have been sitting on something of immeasurable value since we started Knit, which is our youth team’s creativity. While they’ve been excelling at creating content for all of our clients, they haven’t had the chance to create for themselves. Now, we’re in the very early stages of developing a platform for youth creators – starting with our own team. We have lots of ideas so the goal is to stay focused. As I said before, we have a good thing, and we just have to figure out how to get more people to know about us.

It was a great reminder to see Ricky and Haydee’s presentations because it brought me back to why Knit was born. I’m hopeful that this is just a rough patch, because we seem to be finding our way through it, and I’m reinvigorated to keep trudging through the muck that we call entrepreneurship.

Have any stories you’d like to share? If you’re an entrepreneur and would like to get something off your chest, let’s make Founder Confessions a regular thing. Email me to get on our blog.

The ask: One thing I learned on the campaign, is that sometimes all you have to do is ask (multiple times in many different ways). I haven’t done this, because it makes me uncomfortable, but if I don’t ask, I’ll never know. I realize that telling my sad story about how we haven’t grown as quickly as I would have liked is not exactly what investors are looking to hear, but if you believe in Knit Marketing and I tugged on your heartstrings enough, would you or someone you know want to invest in Knit Marketing? Email me or contribute here.