5 Lessons Learned In 5 Years of Entrepreneurship

Five lessons I’ve learned after being in business as an entrepreneur for five years.

5 Lessons Learned In 5 Years of Entrepreneurship

Inspiralized is officially 5 years old today! Instead of calling this my “blogiversary” (as us bloggers do), I’m calling it my business anniversary, because after being in business for five years, Inspiralized is much more than a blog.

Aside from these super blogger-y, adorable photos taken with my girl Erin Dwyer, I’m celebrating five years by sharing five lessons I’ve learned in five years of entrepreneurship.

First off, if you’re new to Inspiralized, you can read my story of how it all began here. I love that some of you have literally been following since day one – I’m so humbled by that, and it’s you guys especially that inspire me to keep pushing forward and building this brand!

Many of these lessons I’ve learned, I learned early on, but they still hold true- five years later! And I’m not going to bore you with the “You’ll work harder than you’ve ever worked!” or “Don’t compare yourself to others!” lessons, because those are obvious by now. Here are five lessons I’ve learned in five years of entrepreneurship:

1. It’s okay to stall the speed of your success in exchange for some work-life balance.

This was a hard lesson to learn. There were many times when I was discouraged by how slowly my business was progressing, even though I was extremely happy with my life. During the daily operations of my business, I’d think, “Ugh! I should have accomplished X by now!” However, my business was still progressing, profitable, and successful and most importantly, I was HAPPY. I couldn’t figure out where this dissatisfaction came from and then I realized that I was me putting these added pressures on myself and comparing myself to other businesses that weren’t even in my league (like, larger, capital-backed companies!)

I started focusing more on my personal overall happiness as a PERSON, rather than an entrepreneur and then I realized, I much prefer the happiness as an individual rather than being EXTREMELY successful (whatever that means.) I love my life and the legacy I want to leave behind is that I was a kind, happy, loving person – not necessarily that I built an empire. Both would be great, don’t get me wrong – but I’m more conscious of the first one. Most highly successful entrepreneurs I know are sleep-deprived, stressed out, and not even happy even though they have so much success. When you have more, you want more (it’s a vicious cycle!) Plus, slow and steady wins the race, right?

5 Lessons Learned In 5 Years of Entrepreneurship

2. Define what success means to you early on and build your business plan around that.

To my first lesson above, I wish I had done this sooner – it would’ve saved me a lot of soul searching in the first couple of years of my business! I think every entrepreneur has their definition of success. For most, it’s money. Whatever it is – define it clearly and build your business plans and goals around that success mission. Otherwise, you’ll be very disappointed.

I learned after about 3 years that money wasn’t my motivator. It was the community. If I made less money than the last year, but my community was stronger, larger, and more engaged, I would be happy and feel successful. I have never said, “I want to make X dollars by X year.” I feel successful when someone recognizes me on the street and tells me I’ve changed the way they eat. That means I’m touching the world – people are listening, and I’m making a (healthy) impact on the world and my community.

If money motivated me more, you’d see me doing a LOT more sponsored posts (which I hope you’ve noticed, I don’t do many), doing more product roundups with affiliate links, being more salesy with the Inspiralizer (I should probably work on that, haha!), and hosting more paid events.

Just define what “success” is to you as a business owner. Save yourself the headache later down the road when you’re dissatisfied and can’t figure out why!

3. You can learn anything on Google and YouTube.

Every time I’m asked, “How did you build this company?” I always respond excitedly with, “Google and YouTube!” Seriously, guys. If you’re looking to start a business, you can literally serach, “How to start a business,” haha! I half-kid, because it’s true. I learned so many things by just watching hours and hours of how-tos on YouTube or reading articles found on Google. I’ve learned everything from food photography to how to edit videos, and I was never discouraged by not knowing how to do something in these past five years, I always knew I could figure it out. Where there’s a will, there’s way. 

5 Lessons Learned In 5 Years of Entrepreneurship

4. If something is crucial to the growth of your business and you are really bad at it (after trying it get good at it!), outsource it.

Another lesson I wish I had learned sooner. This is especially true with graphic design. I tried to design my own Inspiralized graphics with Photoshop and spend a couple years on trying to figure out how to make consistent brand images and graphics. Then, one day, I said, “Why am I wasting all this time making inadequate designs for my business, when I have the money to spend it on exactly that AND then I can invest that time saved in parts of my business I’m great at and will grow my business?” It was a heart-to-heart I had with myself and pursuant to lesson #5, I started outsourcing graphic design and it really did help grow my business and make my brand identity more solid.

It’s a fine line – don’t outsource everything! Try to do it yourself first and if you truly fail at it, outsource it. Don’t be lazy and outsource – try to figure it out yourself and then outsource. This is a lesson for beginning entrepreneurs and startups – if you’re in a different financial position and farther along in your business and have the resources to invest, do it!

An example of this for me was food videos. I tried so hard to learn how to do my own Tasty-style food videos (like these) and I literally spent HOURS prepping, filming, and editing (like, 8 hours a day) multiple times per month. After a few months of this, I decided to hire someone to come over and film me so I could eliminate the filming and editing. Then, after losing hours where I could be focusing on my business and knowing I had the resources to invest in a full outsource, I outsourced those videos. So now, if you see those quick-style cooking videos, those aren’t my hands! A lovely husband and wife entrepreneurship duo film them for me! And I have those hours to spend growing Inspiralized! Plus, I could never make those videos as beautifully, so it’s a win-win: better quality content and more time for me to work on other parts of my business.

5 Lessons Learned In 5 Years of Entrepreneurship

5. Invest your money back into your business early on.

When I first started off as an entrepreneur, I literally had $3,000 to my name (and that included my last paycheck at the job I had just left.) I was never a great saver and still am not (sorry, Lu!) I pinched pennies to get the business to run. About 6 months in, I was ready to throw the towel in (or at least get a side gig to afford my life) and I had a frank conversation with Lu at dinner one night and he said, “Don’t worry about it. We’ll make it work.” We were just dating (but living together) and he was/is a struggling entrepreneur as well – we didn’t have much money and every dollar counted (it still does, of course!) This made my heart swell for Lu and made me want to work even harder to make my business work.

It’s hard to shake the penny pincher mindset once you start making money. It took me a few years to realize that it’s better to invest (almost) every penny you make back into your business, because that’s what’ll make your business grow – as long as you invest in the right places in your business, of course. I’m not saying to spend money on Post-Its and cute wall decor for your home office, I’m saying invest in graphic designers, your website, SEO consulting, hiring, and marketing materials. Early on, once you first start making money. Looking back, I wish I had invested more money in the first two years. Now, it’s easier, because my business is profitable and there’s money to be invested, but back in the beginning, I regret holding on to my money personally – I should have put it back into the business. You live and your learn, that’s what entrepreneurship is all about!

Thank you giveaway

I hope you enjoyed these lessons learned! And thank you SO SO much for all of your support these past five years! To celebrate, I’m doing a giveaway of FIVE things on all of my social channels, this blog, and in our newsletter! Make sure you’re following along to participate. Open to US addresses only, sorry!

You can win 1 of 5 prizes:

Enter on:

Enter the blog giveaway here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

All photos by http://erindwyerphotography.com.

Inspiralized

New to spiralizing? Grab your FREE eBook with our 20 Most Popular Blog Recipes!

Have a spiralizer and not sure where to start?How about making our fool-proof, most popularly made recipes from the blog? In this printable PDF eCookbook you’ll find photos and full recipes of our readers’ favorites to get you started!

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on google
Google+
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn

Leave a Comment

Want to share a photo of what you’ve made? Be sure to click the 'Choose file' button below to add your photos!

The maximum upload file size: 300 MB. You can upload: image.

114 comments

Andrea says:
Happy Anniversary
Hillary Gras says:
Been following you from the beginning and it just gets better EVERY year. Cheers to the next FIFTY years!!!! (Baby Luca will grow the empire, I have no doubt)
Beth Anderson says:
Congratulations! I believe I started following 3-4 years ago. I was following right before you started your weight loss journey. Your blog convinced me to try noodles!
Kayla Sue Keller says:
I have been following since 2016! I had no idea this kitchen gadget and blogger would change the way I looked at cooking health meals forever! You made me fall in love with cooking! <3
Cari says:
Looking forward to what you come up with next! I've been following for about 2-3 years. Congrats!
Jaclyn says:
Happy Anniversary! I’ve been following for about a year and have 2 little boys who I like to be healthy for and with. Thank you for all the yummy recipes
Stephanie B Hacker says:
Happy 5years! Started following to get more ideas to add veggies to my husband's diet, but have since been referring your blog to my patients who require low protein diets. I go through your recipes and teach my patients how to adapt your recipes to be low protein.
Genevieve R says:
CONGRATS!! I’ve only been fill following the pasta 3 months or so but love your content!
Glenda Tavenner says:
Congratulations on 5 years! I’ve been following you for about 3 years now. Love your recipes and your Inspiralizer, especially my red one! Best of luck and continued success!
Erin says:
Congratulations! I've been a follower for about a year but you've already inspired me to someday start my own business. We'll see if it actually happens. :)
Allison says:
Congrats!! I’ve been following these past two years and love your positivity!
Brittany H says:
This was SO inspiring and reassuring to read. My husband recently started his own business and it has ups and downs. It’s exciting and scary-all at the same time! But the most important thing is that he’s happy. And that makes me happy! Why be stuck doing something you don’t enjoy?? I’m a HUGE saver and it makes my panic when money is tight. But we always make it work. Thank you for all the tips! Maybe my husband can look back and reflect 5 years from now with the same mindset :)
Fran says:
Congratulations on 5 Years! Love your recipes and your Instagram and blog posts. Wishing you many more wonderful years of inspiralizing.
Sarah O’Hanlon says:
You’re so inspiring! Thank you for all you do to be such a role model :)
Eden Garner says:
Congratulations on five years, Ali! I remember your first blog post! I’ve been following along since your first post, it’s been incredible and inspiring to watch you grow and your business go from the ground up! I still have your blog post bookmarked on tips on how to work from home. You’ve inspired me to start my own website! I’ve purchased my domain, hosting and put up a mailing list landing page. Thank you for all of your encouragement over the years. You are a pioneer!
Sarah O’Hanlon says:
WOW! Simply amaozng! You inspire me!
Kelli says:
i've been following for about a year and a half now. i've been wanting to get an inspiralizer for forever!
Kristen says:
Love following you and all your yummy recipes! Congrats on 5️⃣!
Denise says:
I’ve been following for about 6 months. Just got the new cookbook and am excited to try all the recipes!
Sandra says:
I've been along for the ride since year ONE! Congrats!
Cristina wardrip says:
Congratulations! Your site inspires me to make healthy choices every day.
Justine says:
Congratulations! I have been following you for about a year!
Lorna says:
Congrats Ali! I have been with you since the early years and will never stop! I looove your recipes and thoroughly enjoyed watching you grow your business AND your family!! Keep on trucking because you have built something special here!! (And you are so right, I wish more people put more ‘value’ towards experiences and happiness rather than material things and money. I think it’s a hard lesson learned by most as we age. Glad you have that mindset because so many people chase the money for so long next thing they know they look back with regrets. While money is a necessity, there has to be a balance. We all won’t be millionaires and frankly, that’s ok. Because money does not make you happy.) Good job girl! I always knew you would make something of it!
Mona Petersen says:
Congrats! I’ve been following about 2 years now!
Jenna B says:
I’ve been following for the last 1 year and LOVE everything. I look forward to your Instagram posts everyday. Had spiralized meals all week so far (albeit it’s only Tuesday, but it’s likely to continue). 1 year ago I got rid of my old (and “fancy” spiralizer) and bought yours instead. Best move ever! It stunk. Thank youuuu Congrats Ali, you rock!!
Marie says:
I've been following you for about a year, congratulations!
Amy says:
Congratulations. I've been following along for several years but I still don't have an Inspiralizer. I drool over your recipes!
Just found you tonight! I'm super excited about your site. Congrats on 5 years!!
Traci Severson says:
Congrats on 5 years! Here’s to 50 more!! I have been following for several years!! I enjoy your posts so much!!
Dhruti says:
Congratulations!! I have been following you for about 9 months now. Your my top account I actually make recipes from love your ideas!!
Michelle young says:
I started following you earlier this year...you had me a potatoes.
Grace says:
Congratulations! I've been following along since the beginning. Your journey has been inspiring to watch. Love spiralizing and trying your recipes. Looking forward to what the future brings to you and your family.
Lina says:
An ideal jumpsuit for a laidback resort vacation! Kisses, Lina from http://fashionmakestrends.com/

Latest on Inspiralized

Subscribe to Inspiralized

Subscribe to one or all of our newsletters for amazing
recipes, inspirational content + our free starter guide

  • Weekly Recap
  • Kidsletter
  • Products + Sales

cleaned the grill today, which inspired me to grill for dinner, so I kept it simple with grilled potatoes, broccoli and chicken sausage. 🥦🥔 I also made some BBQ tempeh for myself, which was nice and hearty and I am excited to make it more this summer 🌽👏🏼 basically, I steamed it for 10 minutes and then slathered it in barbecue sauce and threw it on the grill for 10-15 minutes. super easy and delish! 🙏🏼

what’s everyone having for dinner tonight?! 👇🏼 #whatsfordinner #vegandinnerideas #vegandinners
...

MEXICAN STREET CORN SALAD 🌽, made with a creamy avocado lime sauce instead of mayo, for a lighter, “less-dairy” version of a street corn salad! so flavorful, addictively tasty, and works well as a vegetarian main dish or can be a side dish served with your favorite protein 👏🏼 grab the recipe on the blog now!! hope everyone had great weekends, see you monday!

#vegetarianrecipes #vegetarianpasta #vegetarianmeals #pastasalad #easymeals #easymealideas
...

it's friyyyyyyaayyyy and that means cheese & cracker plates, right? 🍷 my Pistachio & Cranberry Vegan Cheese Ball 🌱 is perfect for any occasion (yes, friday is an occasion!), a throwback recipe from my Inspiralized & Beyond cookbook! if you have the book, flip to page 88 and make this - definitely no cheese coma and you'll be amazed how cheese-like it tastes (kind of like a spreadable ricotta with tons of herby goodness!) 👏🏼⁣

what's everyone's weekend plans? I'll be in NYC for the second part of the photoshoot for my collaborative cookbook with @feedinglittles! 👯‍♀️⁣

#vegancheeseball #vegancheese #veganrecipes #veganfood
...