Starting a new venture is never easy.
There’s always a million reasons why you “can’t” do something, whether it’s writing a book or starting a business.
And, in truth, the first few months of business are always some of the hardest. Every experience is the first experience. Therefore, you feel like you’re constantly putting out fires left and right.
I am a huge systems person. Systems are life. Before opening my first business, a juice bar, I had already made a lot of systems that I thought would work well. But when we actually opened and started operations, I ended up redesigning and editing document after document every single day for what felt like months.
My brother Kylon and his business partner were in charge of getting the startup capital and building out the space, and also came up with the original idea for a juice bar. That’s where their ownership came in. They brought our younger brother and me on for the operations part. We were in charge of actually making the place run. For the sake of our budget, the two of us decided that we would try to work the bar by ourselves for the first month or two.
Well, that lasted about week before we realized it was not sustainable. I still remember the process of finding the first employees we brought on. We literally went through our list of friends on Facebook, contacting whoever we thought might be able to serve up a good cup of juice.
Through this process, we hired two people. No interviews, no conversation, just a quick call or text to see if they were down.
Training was easy, mostly because we didn’t know what we were doing, either! So we basically said, “Figure it out as you go. But here’s how we think it could be done.”
Up until the juice bar, I had only had one “real” job, as a temporary secretary at my dad’s office for three months. I didn’t have much of a standard for what was “right” or “wrong” as far as how things were supposed to be done in the workplace. Because of this, I had no concept of anything… Especially when it came to actually running a business. NUYU was a baby and I was a baby right along with it.
Along with that, I was the only girl on an all-guy team. I was working with guys (that is, my business partners) who were older and whom I respected strongly. They would brainstorm and find new ways to improve the business, while I usually wouldn’t do much but agree and attempt to create the plan for how to make it happen. I had no confidence in being a business owner. And rightly so, since I had no idea what I was doing. It was the definition of fake it till you make it.
I went from juicing my first apple ever to owning a juice bar seven months later. And making the juice itself was just 5% of the equation.
Though, if I’m being honest, I think my naiveté was actually an advantage during this season of my life. If I knew how much work it would be, how many long days and nights it would take to get the juice bar up and going and running smoothly, I might not have done it. But I didn’t know, so I just did. I did what was required, few questions asked. At some point, you come to the place of realizing, “Well, we are too far in to go back. So we have to go forward.”
The first five months were rough. But once again, I had no concept of what was good or bad. So as long as we stayed open and customers were happy, it was a win. To make matters even more interesting, for my college graduation present, my dad and brother-in-law surprised my sister and me with a trip to Europe. We would leave a few weeks after NUYU’s grand opening. Smart, I know.
Learn to Let Go
I took off to Europe, leaving the bar in the trusted hands of my partner. But not before I, being a control freak at the time, crafted a massive “Privileges List” to help keep him on track (Growing up, my parents called our chores “privileges.” It was never, “Make sure your chores are done!” It was always, “Make sure your privileges are done!” It wasn’t until I was around 10 years old that I realized the two were one and the same. Even with this knowledge, I still use the term “privileges” to this day. So naturally, that’s what I called my partner’s chore list, as well: Privileges.).
Leaving the juice bar was like leaving my newborn baby for almost a month. I still remember being so scared that it was going to explode the day I left. A few issues did come up, but thankfully, none of them were explosive.
Right when I got back, my partner took off on a trip to Europe of his own. During this time, I refined and redefined our systems.
For some reason, we thought it would be smart to hire on a manager right away because I couldn’t handle everything alone while he was gone. What we were thinking, I don’t know. Looking back, it’s very apparent that this was a premature step in the growth of the business. We were nowhere near needing a manager. But you live and you learn, and I hired a current employee as our manager. He was a guy who was a couple years older than me. He was very talented and also had a lot more experience in the food industry than anyone else on the team.
At the time, it seemed like a smart move to promote someone who appeared to know more about this line of business than we did. But let’s just say it turned out not to be the best business move.
Many times, how you start things is how you end them. I promoted him to manager without setting clear expectations and establishing systems for accountability when it came to our procedures and guidelines. On top of this, I hadn’t learned to stand on my own two feet as a business owner yet, so I let a lot of things slide that I wouldn’t dream of letting happen now. Things like not doing basic stuff around the shop that everyone else was required to. Instead, he would lean over the counter and look at his phone while sipping a smoothie.
Needless to say, things got a little rough and I got frustrated. Additionally, he was our friend, so that made matters even more difficult.
My partner came back from Europe to a juice bar that was… still running. But it had problems. On top of the issues and frustrations we were already dealing with, having all the owners back together after four months made a few other things clear. It became obvious who was invested for the long term and who wasn’t. This is when I began to understand that my partner had been interested in NUYU for the startup experience. He was an incredibly hard-working and self-motivated person, but soon it appeared that NUYU wasn’t something he wanted to invest in full-time anymore.
Pretty soon, I started doing the majority of the work. A new idea would come about and I would be the only one who carried it out. If I wanted something done, I would have to ask and follow up a couple times before anyone started anything. It became exhausting and frustrating, to say the least. But I coped, and put up with it. I felt like if I brought it up, people would say that I wasn’t doing enough or doing things well.
I know, stupid. I was just very insecure in who I was as a business owner.
Thank goodness for outside perspectives. Pretty soon, all four of us owners sat down for a meeting—an intense meeting that took place about five months after our soft opening. We had all met with each other separately leading up to it and had several confrontational talks. But none of them had worked. It was time for that big meeting.
I remember being very nervous because I would have to state what I was feeling; I would have to stand up for myself. At the time, that was very hard for me to do. Standing up for myself and what I was worth was perhaps that scariest thing for me to do in that season of my life. I felt like the minute I did, someone would retort that I wasn’t worth those things and affirm my fears.
But we had to have that talk.
I shared how I was feeling and the others chimed in. Sure, there were some defenses raised and a little bickering back and forth. But we ended the meeting laughing and hugging. And with a result that I wasn’t expecting… at least not that fast. My partner resigned his ownership and the other two owners were going to sign theirs over to their wives. Right then and there, we went straight to the bank and signed over accounts and put new names on the LLC agreement. That same day, it was decided that I would become majority owner of the juice bar.
In one day, I lost three business partners, gained two new ones, and became majority owner of a juice bar at 18 years old.
Don’t Compromise or Settle
In life, and especially in the entrepreneur space, I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Kick out your limiting beliefs!” a lot. I know I have. When people say this, they are usually referring to the perspectives and thought processes we have that put a boundary on what we can do and where we can go in life.
Every time I hear this phrase, it causes me to go through my past and present looking for things that could be limiting my potential in life. In fact, it almost makes me go into panic mode sometimes because there might be some underlying belief somewhere in me that I have no idea about. What if that belief is destroying my potential?
What I’ve found is that, oftentimes, the biggest limiting beliefs are staring me right in the face, and I just need to be self-aware enough to see and acknowledge them.
In order to destroy your limiting beliefs, you must first be self-aware of the fact that they are there. Acknowledging the things you are letting stop you from reaching your potential is a hard thing to do. When we take a step back and look behind our actions (or lack thereof), it exposes weaknesses that we have been in denial about. Fortunately, once those weaknesses are exposed, even if it’s just to ourselves, the desire to change them grows.
On the journey of becoming self-aware, ask yourself which negative thoughts pop into your mind when you’re in the process of chasing a big goal and don’t compromise or settle until you’ve found them.
For me, some of the things that go through my mind and would control my actions if I let them are the thoughts of failing, losing reputation, and biting off more than I can chew.
But at the root of most of my limiting beliefs is feeling like my self-worth is attached and directly correlated to my performance. More specifically, if I failed at a project, then I would take it to a personal level and subconsciously feel like I, personally, was a failure.
Oftentimes, this limiting belief would make me so fearful that I wouldn’t even do something if I thought there was a high probability of failing. I didn’t ever want to be a failure myself, so that meant I couldn’t fail at anything I did. It took me a long time to define this as my root limiting belief because I had to keep chasing it down through the different ways I would handle situations.
Sometimes your root limiting belief can go back to your childhood, or even generations before you. In the process of discovering what my major limiting beliefs are, I’ve tried to make myself extremely aware of the generational perspectives and struggles that have been passed down to me, good or bad. Once you let yourself explore the connection between the two, it’s amazing how much clarity you have regarding how you view life and handle situations.
Over time, I’ve become self-aware of these voices in my head and have learned to first acknowledge them, and then move on from them. We can’t move on and fix what we don’t know exists. This is why it’s important to acknowledge those limiting beliefs. While you’re processing through what you have found, you will begin to develop a plan for how to move forward.
After you acknowledge those limiting beliefs, you must commit to never compromising or settling on those things. We live in a world full of compromise and settling for the mediocre. We have a goal, and we might chase it hardcore, but the minute something gets hard, we throw our hands up in the air and settle for where we were, not where we want to be. I wish I could tell you that once you find your limiting beliefs, they just go away. But it’s a constant battle of acknowledging and choosing to move past that belief when it presents itself.
You are not defined by this world. You are not what this world tells you you are. You’re also not defined by your family, or your surroundings. You choose how you are defined. Don’t settle for the standard—make the standard.
In order to define some of the limiting beliefs you might have, let’s expose the truth behind some of the top ones millennials face.
Age Is Just a Number
I started my first business at the age of 15. That business happened to be health coaching. So that meant at 15 years old, I was coaching people almost twice my age on their health. I tell people this story today and they look at me cross-eyed as they cautiously inquire how I got anyone to trust me at that young age to coach them on something as serious as their health.
Well, it’s because I was using my age to my advantage. It was all the more fascinating to people to see a 15-year-old do what I was doing because no person my age was doing it. Before I even started, I had a competitive advantage because of my age.
One of the limiting factors that’s easy to fall into as a young entrepreneur is limiting yourself because of your age. It’s a classic story, and an easy trap. It’s easy to look at myself sometimes and take the easy way out by saying, “Oh, it’s okay if I don’t accomplish this goal by this time… because I’m currently only 20 and most people don’t accomplish this goal until they’re 30!”
But that’s just an excuse.
Although there are some disadvantages to being a young entrepreneur, the advantages strongly outweigh them. When you’re a young entrepreneur, you immediately have a competitive advantage above everyone who’s older.
Think about it. If you were to hear of a 50-year-old who owned a juice bar versus a 20-year-old who owned a juice bar, which juice bar would you be more curious about?
I don’t mean this to sound like a second-grade math word problem, but you would most likely be more curious about the juice bar that was owned by the younger person.
This example isn’t just a stat I pulled from thin air, either. This is the reality of my life. As a young entrepreneur, you are highlighted right from the start because of your age. Use that as an advantage and don’t let yourself view it as anything but that!
Failure Is How You Learn
Now let’s talk about the good old “F” word. And no, not that “F” word! If you know anything about me, you know that I don’t swear. The “F” word I’m referring to is Failure.
Failure is one of the most common (and I would venture to say greatest) limiting beliefs out there. Sometimes I wonder how many opportunities I’ve missed out on just because I was too scared of failure to try them.
If we’re not careful, fear of failing can completely extinguish our desire to even try. But in reality, you’ll never know the outcome of something unless you do try. And if you try, you’ll be one step closer to your goal than if you hadn’t at all.
The fear of failure is a killer of dreams, goals, and, in my opinion, it’s one of the biggest limiting beliefs that we might all have in common. So what needs to happen to get over this? We need to make a major perspective and mindset shift.
Failing can actually be one of the greatest correlations to success. In fact, recently I’ve started trying to look at failure as success because I just learned one more way not to do something. Through “failing” or, as I like to call it for myself, “learning,” we learn how not to do things which in turn shows us how to do things.
Thomas Edison had one thousand failed attempts when inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail a thousand times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail a thousand times. The light bulb was an invention with a thousand steps.”
How we see failure is determined by our mindset and the perspective we have regarding failure. I guarantee you that Edison wouldn’t have invented the lightbulb if he had responded negatively to the discouragement he felt every time he failed. Failing a thousand times is a lot. So I’m pretty sure we have nothing to complain about.
In fact, I would even argue that failure is what makes life interesting. I like to imagine my life like a movie. Each day is a scene that contains an interesting twist making for a compelling storyline. No one wants to watch a movie where there’s a perfect storyline with no conflict. If there were no such thing as failure, then success wouldn’t even exist. One side of the spectrum can’t exist without the other.
At the end of the day, failure is a direct correlation to learning, and learning is a direct correlation to success. Therefore, failing should be exciting because it gets us one step closer to success!
Plan to succeed, but also plan to fail, because failure is what makes the storyline of our life worth telling.
Think Outside the Box
Dear Millennial, whether you want to believe it or not, the only thing stopping you from making your wildest dreams become a reality is you. You might argue that your surroundings, environment, or the people around you are stopping you, but that’s not true. Because you are choosing to surround yourself by those things and those people.
It might be hard, but you could also choose not to surround yourself by those variables. It’s your choice. Make it for yourself and don’t let other people make it for you.
You are what you say you are. Sometimes we go through life restricting ourselves through our words and our thoughts. You might be putting yourself and your potential in a box just by what you are thinking about yourself on a daily basis.
You are what you believe, and your beliefs are largely determined by what you say about yourself. There is nothing you can’t do. And the only thing stopping you from getting where you are to where you want to be is yourself. It’s your choice.
So get out there and make those decisions that will shape your reality. Let that first decision be to cast out the limiting beliefs in your life and build a healthy mindset for what you are called to do and who you are called to be. After that, you are one step closer to living an uncompromised life.
I want you to understand that you have to create the standard for yourself. You have to push past all barriers and know that you can do it. You can live a life of greatness. You just have to go for it.
Want to Learn More?
This article was adapted from Dear Millennial: A compass to defining your unique purpose, pursuing a life of fulfillment, and building a legacy by Chelann Gienger.
Pick up a copy today to get more insights into starting and running a business and navigating life in general!
Best of all, the book is free from September 26-28, 2017, to celebrate its launch!
About the Author
Currently 20 years old, Chelann Gienger is a serial entrepreneur focusing her ventures on inspiring and empowering others to chase their dreams and goals in life. At the age of 18, Chelann opened NUYU Juice Bar along with three partners. Today, NUYU Juice Bar serves hundreds of customers a week in Yakima, Washington.
Within a year of launching the juice bar, Chelann started the Entrepreneur Before 25 Podcast out of a desire to inspire and unite young and like-minded entrepreneurs. On the podcast, she interviews inspiring entrepreneurs who started their journey at the age of 25 and under.
Chelann just published her first book, Dear Millennial: A compass to defining your unique purpose, pursuing a life of fulfillment, and building a legacy.
This book was born out of a personal desire to call herself and her peers to a higher standard of greatness in every sphere of life. It’s one of her greatest passions to help millennials define the purpose that only they can accomplish on this earth and give them the tools to break it down into realistic action steps. With those tools in hand, Chelann teaches millennials how to accomplish their overarching purpose while living a fulfilled life and creating a legacy that lasts generations!
For more on building your best career and life, read on:
- Shattering the Misery Myth: How to Nurture Your Mental Health as a Writer
- How to Calm Your Mind by Moving Forward—A Simple Tool for Getting Unstuck
- Focused Breathing: Reduce Stress and Boost Concentration with a Simple Breathing Exercise