4 Lessons I’ve Learned In 4 Months of Business

4 Lessons I've Learned In 4 Months of Business

A few months ago, I took a leap of faith into uncharted territory – right into the turbulent waters of startup life. In these four months, I’ve been building Airlink Marketing, a marketing agency focused on hospitality and travel and PDF on Demand, a service for businesses to create beautifully designed collateral in 72 hours or less.

Along the way, I’ve learned many lessons – many of them the hard way. Here is what startup life has taught me in just a few short months.

Even The Toughest Entrepreneur Needs Support
Last week, one of my ideas didn’t go according to plan. I quickly texted a friend. “I can’t do this!” while drowning my sorrows in Romanian truffles. They immediately deflected my moment of despair with a few lines about how they believed in me. Five minutes later, I was back to thinking “I CAN do this.”

Startup life is a roller coaster. One day you could be killing it – closing sales left and right and the next day you might be staring hopelessly at your computer screen wondering what to do next. When I find myself having an off day, my friends are always there to build me back up. I wouldn’t be where I am right now without their support, feedback and cheerleading. Keep yourself surrounded by positivity and cut negativity from your life as quickly as possible. 

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Business is 99% Rejection, 1% Success

The first time I sent out a pitch email, I debated sending it for a good 20 minutes. I hit send and then hid under the covers anxious about what they would say. They didn’t answer. I tried another lead. No answer. I tried another lead. No answer. I tried another one – success!

It’s important to cut your losses quickly and move on fast.  If an idea doesn’t work, don’t get discouraged. For every 99 bad ideas, you’ll have one great one. Over the last few months, I’ve quickly become accustomed to rejection and have learned to compartmentalize business rejection from personal self-worth. 

You Have To Spend Money To Make Money
When you’re bootstrapping a startup, funds can be scarce. Even so, one thing I have refused to sacrifice is money spent on great design even if it means taking a financial risk. Design can make or break a company’s image and I have found that any money spent on great collateral comes back paying dividends.

Spending money on stunning business cards, decks, and websites is an investment in your brand and the image you convey to the public. 

When Something Isn’t Right, It’s Usually Lack of Communication

Over the last few years, I’ve worked with thousands of freelancers and have outsourced hundreds of design and content projects. This experience has allowed me to not only allowed learn about new cultures and meet some great people, but it’s also taught me invaluable skills about project management.

Often times, when a task is performed incorrectly or not to my specifications, it’s usually not the contractor’s fault – it’s mine. Poor quality work is usually a result of not taking the time to outline exactly what is needed, how the project should be completed and what the necessary deadline is. Time spent on training is always time well spent. 

Though this is just the beginning, I look forward to many more lessons in both success and failure.  What’s the biggest you’ve learned in startup life?


Arianna O’Dell is the founder of Airlink Marketing, a marketing agency helping hospitality and tourism companies create amazing collateral and marketing programs to help attract and retain clientele.

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