Advice from a 30-year old

Today I turn 30. I've never been one to put much significance on age, or even birthdays, but there's something about being alive for three full decades that calls to meaning. I don't feel old at all - gosh, am I only really 30? - but I do feel just a little more grounded and blessed with clarity. Such as it were.

My friend asked recently, "How did you know that it was going to work out?" She is thinking about starting her own business and felt unsure about how to get it off the ground. She was asking me how I knew to price In Her Element (my company's skincare brand) and why even do skincare in the first place. 

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"I didn't know," I said. I didn't know that In Her Element was going to work out, at least, for the first few months. I didn't even know if Project Vanity as a business was going to work out in the first year. We didn't make any money at first; I can tell you this now, that was probably the most stressful year of my life. It involved panic attacks and tears when cashflow wasn't good. The pressure was insane, especially since I had investors who trusted me to scale. I also had employees whose salaries I needed to be able to pay at the end of the month. 

I didn't know if any of my plans were going to work. I had even toyed with the idea of just quitting and finding something else to do - this I've only ever considered once before, in the almost ten years Project Vanity has been around.

With a bit of luck and a ton of work, however, some of my ideas started to take off. I just kept on trying different ones until a few stuck to the wall. Eventually, we started refining those that proved to be profitable and quickly discarded ones that weren't. Two years in business and we finally understand our product-market fit - that fine point where people are willing to pay for something we can offer.

So this is my advice: the only way to find out if something will work is if you just do the darn thing and execute the best you can. There's no magic to it; no big secret or sweeping romance. It's just trying and failing until you get it right. You have to put your ideas out in the world to know if they're worth keeping or discarding. Perfection doesn't happen overnight. In fact it probably never happens at all! But you can approach it, if you go for it and whittle down the flaws of the original concept. 

Remember, action is the only thing that will inform you of what will happen next. Don't waste your time on what ifs and maybes, because before you know it - well, you'd be 30 or 40 or 60. Do you want a life where you mourn for things you never had the courage to pursue?