In April, I celebrated National Poetry Month by participating in the #NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Month) challenge. While you may know me as a tech entrepreneur, my professional journey started as a poet, performer and educator. The goal is to write a poem a day and share it. I chose to share my poems on Instagram and Facebook. I also learned a lot about how I work as an entrepreneur, and wanted to share those and want to share those lessons with you.
7 Entrepreneur Lesssons I Learned From Doing #NaPoWriMo 2017
1. Every day as an entrepreneur will not be perfect, but it’s important to show up.
This was a big lesson. Each morning, I would sit with a cup of coffee and write a poem. It sounds easy, but sometimes I sat there and waited and nothing happened. Other times, I just started writing and was open to what I created. The point for me was to not worry so much about how good (or not so good) the poem was, but to actually show up.
For many of us who run our own businesses, there will be good days and horrible days. There will be days when we feel like quitting, but what I realized is this: If you don’t show up, you can’t create anything.
I started understanding how to show up and commit to doing a poem a day even when i didn’t feel like it. Eventually the not so great poems balance out with the really creative and exciting work.
2. Put It Out There And See What Happens
This was humbling. To keep myself accountable, I shared each poem on my IG and FB pages. The great lesson of #NaPoWriMo is that you’re not focused on how great the work is. You’re not submitting it to a writing contest or publishing it professionally. You are simply showing up and doing it.
Putting it out there kept me accountable (your followers will start wanting to see those poems daily), allowed me to focus on doing the work and not on perfecting the work. It also allowed me to get out of a headspace that says the best creativity comes from the best work. Sometimes just doing it sparks something else in your that can help you along the way.
Entrepreneur Lesson: Put it out there and see what happens. Every idea will not be brilliant and ever poem will not be perfect. If you don’t risk, you don’t know or gain.
3. Every Great Blog Post Starts With A Shitty First Draft
Although blogging and poetry are different, they share one very important thing: all writing often starts with the shitty first draft. I first heard of this concept via Natalie, author of Writing Down The Bones.
She encourages writers to write the shitty stuff because that’s what comes out at first. But eventually, we find a phrase, a line or a stanza that calls us and gives us clarity.
As an entrepreneur, I’ve struggled with finding my blogging voice and understanding my audience, but I’ve decided to just keep going and writing those shitty first drafts.
Eventually, something will spark and idea and give you a sense of direction.
4. Social Media Can Be Your Best Research Tool To Validate Your Idea
Sharing my poems on social not only made me accountable, but in doing so I learned a lot about which what my audience liked and didn’t like. As a UX Desiginer, I’m always studying people and creating personas and thinking about the kinds kind of experiences that engage the human heart.
By putting my poems out there, I got some good information. I realized that my poems about women got a lot of attention. I also realized that my followers really connected with poems about immigration and what it means to be an immigrant.
I’m guesssing that some of that interest comes from the conversations happening in our country right now, but nevertheless it was useful information for me.
Entrepreneur Lesson: Find Use social media to help you understand your audience and create content that they actually feel compelled to read and share.
5. Language Matters. Figure Our How To Say More With Less
In college, I had the amaxing opportunity to study with the late poet June Jordan. She always taught us to “trim the fat” and focus on “maximum impact with minimal words.” Sometimes it’s easier to do that with poetry because of the shorter length, but it’s a take away that helps me in all the writing I do.
How do we learn to say more with less? Doing this challenge allowed me to be very intentional with my language. I had to ask myself if I really need a word or a stanza,
Entrepreneur Lesson: Be intentional with language. How you speak to your customers matters whether you’re blogging, managing a social media account or creating copy for your website. Try to do more with less.
6. There’s A Good Idea In There Somewhere
If you’re a startup tech entrepreneur, you know what it’s like to go from idea to MVP and wonder if you’re really solving the right problem. Sometimes you want to put every feature in, but you know you can’t and you know you need to first validate your idea.
Sometimes you find that you’re trying to solve too many problems and it’s hard to focus.
During the month of April, I learned that although the poem might be a shitty first draft, there’s a good idea in there somewhere. Maybe it’s one line, word, phrase, etc.
Regardless of what it The same is true for your work as an entrepreneur. Even if you pivot, fail and realize that you aren’t solving the right problem, there’s a good idea in there somewhere.
It’s important to remember that!
7. Vulnerability Is An Invaluable Entrepreneur Asset
Be Vulnerable, especially if you’re leading a team of people.
In some ways, we’re taught to focus on how much we’re “crushing it” or “killing it” in our businesses, but sometimes we’re having a really hard time getting our businesses to work for us.
What if we took a break from the perfect image of the successful entrepreneur and shared our hard moments.
While writing these poems, I shared some of the painful truths of my life. I went there and chose to be vulnerable. I told my mother’s immigrant story through the lens of a passport. I talked about my concern for women and girls and I just gave my audience permission to see another side of me.
I wasn’t just showing the polished entrepreneur. I was also showing up as the human story. And I beleive they appreciated this.
Entrepreneur Lesson: Vulnerability is key. Sometimes having it all together does not paint the complete picture of your journey. Take time to share the hard truths of your work. Your audience will appreciate you even more.
The month of April was a challenging month for me, and taking on the National Poetry Writing Month Challenge enabled me to face some of the difficulties. As I’ve been trying to figure out how to grow my business, I realized that taking on a daily practice of writing inspired me to bring those lessons to my work as a software development CEO. I learned the importance of just showing up, making each word count, being vulnerable and taking on a daily practice. Althought Although these lessons may not seem connected to thriving in business, I believe they are actually at the heart of the work that we do. We deal with people and we need to learn how to talk to them, work with them, show up for ourselves in order for our work to show up for us. I hope you found these lessons helpful.
What entrepreneur lessons have helped you be a better business owner?
Let’s connect in the comments.