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Reflection as a Full Time Entrepreneur: Year 1 (June 2017 – June 2018)

July 3, 2018

I’m a little late in celebrating my entrepreneur anniversary, but I’ve been busy, so that’s ok! A year ago, on June 22, I announced here that I was leaving teaching to pursue being a stylist full time. I wanted to do a post reflecting on my first year of being my own #girlboss, including all of the evolutions and changes that have occurred so far.

This post is not meant to be a giant humble brag opportunity, but ideally it’s supposed to provide inspiration for anyone who has doubts about pursuing happiness.

I started my business back in March 2016, while I was still working full time as a teacher. During that time was when I began to build my client base and start learning about what I wanted out of my new career path. When I left teaching in June 2017, I felt like I had started my business over a year ago, but what I learned was that I was really just entering my first year of my business. To compare it to teaching, evolving my business while working full time was like my student teaching experience. I still had the safety net of my full time job, while I made mistakes and pivoted. Running my business full time was like my first year teaching (just with a lot less desire to scream at middle school students).

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One of the biggest changes that happened almost immediately after leaving my job as a teacher, was that I was finally able to become more involved with styling for photo shoots. I hadn’t had the time to dedicate to on set styling while I was working full time, because all of my free time outside of teaching was spent with clients. The shoot that really launched my passion into photo shoot styling was the shoot I did for Craiger Drake Designs. (Revisit that shoot, here.)

Shortly after the Cragier Drake shoot, I became involved with Styled Shoots Across America. I started networking with photographers and other creatives in the tristate area, and one shoot lead to another lead to another and another… Before I knew it, I became the go to stylist for styled shoots in this area. Between August 2017 and now, I have styled approximately 30 shoots. This includes commercials, magazines, and many of these shoots have also been published on major blogs and websites. You can check out my press page to see my accomplishments regarding media appearances, so I’ll leave those details there.

With this giant career change, one of my big goals is to become a celebrity stylist. I decided that I needed to obtain my certification for fashion and celebrity styling. After a lot of research, I selected School of Style, as the best program for me. Now that I have completed the certification, I can honestly say that it’s a fantastic program, and I highly recommend it to any aspiring stylists. School of Style sends out regular emails for stylists based primarily in NYC or LA looking for interns or assistants. Stylists like to hire SoS grads, because they know that they are trained and educated. These job opportunities are what led me to my first assistant jobs with celebrity stylists in NYC.

When it comes to my clients, I love all of them. I have learned more about my “ideal client”, and at this point, I am still comfortable working with a diverse group of clients. Keeping my clients diverse, keeps me interested and challenged. I love a good challenge.

entrepreneur quote, susan padron stylist

Motivation and inspiration go hand in hand as an entrepreneur. You need them both. 

As an entrepreneur, when you work for yourself and you are creating a business, it’s easy to feel lonely. There are so many places to seek guidance, validation, encouragement, advice, and anything else you need to help you achieve your goals. I want to share with you what has worked for me, so far. 

GET YOURSELF AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER!! I’m sorry for yelling, but seriously, this one is life changing, especially if you are an entrepreneur. (Andy is my accountability partner, and no, you can’t have him…unless you are his wife or kids, in which case, he’s all yours.)  I’ll talk about the details another time, but here are a few must haves for your accountability partner:

  1. Both of you need to put your goals in writing – try google sheets.
  2. Speak with them on a regular basis. Have a scheduled call once a week to follow up on progress.
  3. Make sure the two of you are likeminded.
  4. The goals that you both want to achieve should be at the same level.
  5. They are at a similar place in their lives. (This helps with prioritizing and understanding when “life happens”.)
  6. You both respect each other, and what the other is trying to achieve.

Join groups! I attend a lot of networking events, and have joined a lot of groups in the Philadelphia/South Jersey Area. Here are some of my favorites:

  1. PHLbloggers
  2. Full Circle Networking
  3. Walnut Club
  4. PHL Self-Made Women

Attend workshops for your personal and business growth! Workshops are great learning experiences, obviously, but they can also help you network in a more organic setting.

Hire people to help your weaknesses become strengths. One of my favorite exercises I did in one of the classes I took through FIT was a questionnaire that highlighted strengths and weaknesses in all of the facets of becoming a stylist. This was a very useful starting point for me to figure out what I needed to improve on in order for my business to grow.  In the past year, I have hired people to help me with PR, marketing, website design, SEO, financial planning, and other aspects of my job! All of those were worthy investments in my business.

Befriend people who are going through a business journey too. Going back to that loneliness problem, you will need people to talk to. You’ll need different kind of friends in this situation. People who can say things like, “oh my gosh, I know.” “Me too.” “I went through that, and here’s how I dealt with it.” etc. etc. Seek them out, find them. They’ll want to be friends with you too, I promise.

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So, what have I learned as an entrepreneur?

Sometimes, those who are closest to you are not supportive, especially in the beginning. This one hurts a lot. It’s not because they don’t want you to succeed. It’s because they really do want you to succeed, but they don’t want to see you struggle.

When you struggle as an entrepreneur, it’s a different type of struggle. Normal struggle can feel like you’re constantly stumbling and tripping over everything that comes across your path. Almost like life pulls a Lucy from Peanuts, and grabs the football right before you go to kick it.

Entrepreneurial struggle is like training for and then running a half marathon (I say a half marathon, because I’ve never ran a full marathon. I needed my analogy to be something I’ve done before.) It’s hard as hell, but deep down, you know you can get through it. Every mile is both challenging and incredibly rewarding at the same time.

Of course it’s hard. You’re building a business – by yourself! Every day, I feel like not only am I building my business, but I’m creating a better “me”. No matter how tired I am at the end of each day, I am grateful, I am happy, and I continue to grow.

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  1. I didn’t know that you were a teacher previously, as I’ve only known you as Susan Padron Stylist! 😀 You’ve accomplished amazing things this first year. I completely understand what you mean in that last part about struggle. My parents never want to see me struggle. They want the best for me. They want an easy but accomplished life for me. It feels like a lot of pressure sometimes. There are times I want to say… you know, I don’t mind struggling sometimes. In fact, I think I do need to struggle, and to strive for what drives me. I really, really love that last quote. Thank you for sharing your reflections, and congrats on one year as a full time entrepreneur! -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

    • susanpadron says:

      Hey Audrey! Thank you so much! I have to say, it’s a really cool feeling to have people in my life that only know me as a stylist. I definitely developed a lot of skills through teaching that have helped me become a better stylist, but it feels great to have that first year of styling under my belt.
      I’m sure as my son gets older, I won’t want him to struggle either, just like our parents don’t like watching us struggle. But, I completely agree with you in wanting to say that you don’t mind struggling. It’s how we grow, right?

  2. Jessica says:

    Man that accountability partner idea is pretty clutch. I might have to steal that idea as I try to make my business more legit. Aslo congrats girl, you are killing it! And after all you’ve been through this year its so incredibly impressive!

    • susanpadron says:

      Jessica, thanks for kind words and support! Also, feel free to reach out to me or Andy about the accountability partner concept. We’ve only been seriously working together for just under 2 months, and the advances that we have made with our goals are really incredible. We have a spreadsheet and everything!

  3. Shannon says:

    I could not agree more with the last part of this! Pursuing your passion isn’t always easy — but, succeed or fail, it will make a better you! Congratulations on one year of entrepreneurship!

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