5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started

by Jen Soong, founder of Root City Market and SOMA Goods.

Two years ago, I stood on stage at Plywood Presents and nervously stammered my dream to create a social venture to do good for our community. Winning the idea competition was just the start of my entrepreneurial adventure. Little did I know how many supporters I would find along the way. Perfect strangers have become friends who have cheered me on in my journey to launch SOMA Goods and build a local marketplace through Root City Market.

Here are a few things I’ve learned since then:

1. You will make mistakes. And you will be fine. Really. Don’t be afraid of trying new things. That’s how you learn what works and what doesn’t. This might sound like elementary school advice, but it applies perfectly to entrepreneurship. When I put on my “experimenting cap,” I feel like I’ve got freedom to try different approaches and then drop, tweak or improve.

2. Go at your own pace. It’s a journey and you get to make your own map for the ride. Sometimes my competitive side will kick into high gear and I feel like there’s more that I should be doing. But I find that just adding more work without focus can lead to feeling wiped. All. the. time.

3. Make time for a life. Yes, starting a business can be all-consuming. You might feel like there aren’t enough hours in a day. I definitely felt that way. I’d mutter to myself, ‘If only I needed less sleep.” But the thing is that life outside of work can refresh you in a way that will make you feel more excited about the work you do. So spend time with your family and friends — go have adventures and protect that time.

4. Find your flow. Entrepreneurs are not all created the same. You need to figure out what schedule, what goals, what process works best for you. Once you find it, you’ll know. And when you’re “in the zone,” you’ll feel like anything’s possible.

5. Ask for help. People are not mind readers. If you ask nicely and are specific about what you’re looking for, you’ll find that people are usually willing to help you. Start with your circle of friends. They’re already invested in your success and chances are they’ll become your biggest cheerleaders.

Now get out there and make something happen. I’ll be rooting for you.