In Her Words: 5 Mistakes I Made When Starting a Business
Women-owned businesses have been steadily increasing for years. In 2019, more $1 billion female-founded “unicorn” start-ups were born than ever before. What’s more? Female-founded startups generate more revenue — with far less access to capital (only 2.2% of all venture capital dollars, to be exact). Numbers show that they are also denied small business loans more often than men. At the same time, it’s estimated that VCs could have made an additional $85 million over five years if they had invested equally in the female- and male-founded startups… clearly, there’s a lot these women entrepreneurs can teach us about the art of building resilience.
That’s why we asked Nastassia Ponomarenko, CEO and Founder of the fitness apparel line Nasty Fit, to tell us more about her experience starting a business, including the good, bad, and the ugly. Here’s what she shared.
1. Taking My Sweet Time
I was at the beginning stages of starting Nasty Fit, my fitness apparel company, and the whole process was new and uncomfortable for me. I had not yet developed the discipline that I have now, so I didn’t make that much progress in the beginning because I was caving into my comfort zone. This caused me to delay replying to manufacturers, avoid doing specific tasks to improve my business, and overall not living up to my full potential. So with that, I wish I overcame my fear of my discomfort and gave myself that constant mental reminder earlier.
2. Keeping Track of Expenses
I was never good at managing money. Payment here, payment there, but I didn’t establish a real tracking system. This led to a lot of mistakes and pains in the long run when it came to accounting and bookkeeping, but also (and perhaps most importantly) visibility. I highly recommend setting up a business bank account so that you can save on taxes with certain expenses as well as keep them all organized and separated from your personal finances.
3. Ordering in Advance
This one definitely came with a steep learning curve. Nasty Fit was always short on stock or out of stock because I never re-ordered far enough in advance! In the beginning, I didn’t calculate the manufacturing time, holiday time, and anything else that would delay customers from buying what they want and being satisfied. So, think ahead and re-order in advance just in case!
4. Hiring People
You hit a point when you can’t handle everything by yourself. It starts to become unrealistic to think that you can “do it all” without the support of others. I highly recommend hiring someone to help take part of the load off your shoulders. On top of that, if you’re planning on staying in the business of selling goods, you should eventually look into a fulfillment center so you can spend more time working on your business instead of in your business (e.g., on the packaging, shipping, or any other operational tasks). Check out Upwork.com to find freelancers that could help. They can be a true gift if you’re facing any of the same challenges I did.
5. Setting a Foundation First
It’s of utmost importance to set a foundation for your first and foremost. That means thinking about your mission, vision, intentions, and values. Once you pinpoint the intention behind your brand, you can always build off of it. Let me give you an analogy that I like to use: Before pursuing a relationship with someone, you would ideally want to identify your own morals and values first. More importantly, you need to set these to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself. So, why not do the same thing when starting a business?
All in all, I am grateful for the mistakes I have made because I wouldn’t have been able to get to where I am now without them. If you’re starting a business for the first time (or thinking about it), know that it will always involve a certain level of uncertainty. Obstacles will inevitably come up along the way so stay open to experimenting with trial and error. Don’t being afraid of taking risks — welcome them as an opportunity. Learning from our failures is how we ultimately grow. It’s all part of the process!
Nastassia Ponomarenko is, by nature and by reputation, the ultimate Girl Boss. At just 20-years old, Nastassia is the CEO/Founder of the fitness apparel line Nasty Fit, author of the self-improvement book From Dust To Discipline: Achieve Your Fullest Potential and a Fitness Guru with over 60 million views on YouTube. From creating powerful and inspiring workout guides to writing her first book and starting her own business, Nastassia has proven she is a powerful woman on a mission and that this is only the beginning.
As industries step into a new age amid uncertain times, the demand for talent that can provide better solutions will only continue to grow. Women can’t be left behind! Visibility is key to inspiring the next generation. So, let’s continue to celebrate all the women who are creating products and services that help build a more inclusive society.
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