What do the movie Star Wars and the TV program Lost have in common? They both make an appearance in this interview. Meet Lauren Doney, owner of the online fashion boutique Lamalu. Lauren fought her fear of starting her own business, not to mention doing so while working full time at a job in marketing. Lauren talked to me about her fears and how she moved and continues to move through them.
V: When you were thinking of starting your business what kinds of things were you experiencing? What was going through your mind before you started?
L: Well, to back up a little bit I had the idea in 2009. I graduated [from college] in 2010 and I kind of forgot about the idea. Early 2011 I wrote up a business plan for it and even made plans to present it to my family and get some kind of funding. But I don’t know if either no one took me seriously or I just didn’t really think it through. So it wasn’t necessarily the most serious thing and I actually had a friend and we kind of tossed around the idea of doing it together. Then my friend dropped out and I was so gung ho about doing it, but I was so scared to do something by myself. So another year passed and it’s still in the back of my mind ‘cause I had this business plan that had gotten a little bit thicker. I kept it in a folder on top of my washer and dryer, right next to my door to come in and out, so anytime I opened or closed the door I saw it. And the more that I thought about it, the more I was like “I’m terrified to do this. I’m the only person that would be financially responsible for it. I’m the only person that would come up with these ideas. And what if I fail? What if I do this, try my hardest, put every single inch of my body and soul and I fail?” I mean I was so scared. I didn’t know what to do. Eventually I prayed about it, I cried about it. Oh I really cried about it constantly. I was physically sick several times too. I mean it was terrifying.
V: When you were crying what were you thinking about?
L: I was nervous, I was scared to move forward, I was scared to not do anything. I was frustrated about taking three years to decide. Honestly, as the business owner now, I have friends and I have family that I can ask for help occasionally, but at the end of the day they’re not responsible for this. They’re not my employees; they’re just lovely, lovely people that help me when I ask for it. I’m the only person that’s responsible for this and that’s downright terrifying. I mean, crap, I’m still scared.
V: So what would you say has helped you over these past few years to keep moving forward and to actually put the business out there and run it despite being afraid?
L: There was a quote, it wasn’t new to me, but I re-stumbled upon it and I’m not sure how. It basically says “Do or do not, there is no try” something like that. Have you heard a quote like that?
V: Yes, I feel like that’s from Star Wars.
L: That would be hilarious.
V: Isn’t Yoda in that. Yoda, the little….
L: Oh, my God that is Yoda!
V: It’s a good quote!
L: Really, I think a lot with my heart, but I try as much as possible to think with my brain. And when I looked at the numbers and I looked at the startup costs and I said “Do I want to always be answering to someone else for the rest of my life, regardless of if my business is a success or not? Or do I want to try to do this?” If I don’t try, I’ll never know what can happen. If I fail, I fail. I’m 25, I think I was 23 at the time, and I just ran out of excuses honestly. I really felt the fear and I had to push through it because, at that point, I was so determined. I mean I don’t half ass everything, but I half ass a lot of stuff. And I’ll pick something up, I’ll start it for a while and I’ll quit it. Like running, I got really into running for a few months. I haven’t run in months. It came down to “I’ve got to do this one thing and I have to complete this and I’m gonna do it as hard as I possibly can.” I had to really compartmentalize and push the fear away as far as I could. Because at the end of the day, if I think about every single thing that makes me nervous about this I probably wouldn’t get out of bed anymore.
V: So you mentioned the quote that you had, were there any books you read or movies you watched or songs you listened to or anything that helped you too along the way?
L: Not so much, but I will say that I had also stumbled upon Lara Casey’s blog and if you read her blog, she is very motivating. And it was that coupled with so many other things. What scared me initially in starting up the business is not what scares me now.
V: So, what’s the difference?
L: What scared me more when I was starting was…I don’t know why…I was scared of the UPS shipping and different shipment methods and figuring that out. Now that doesn’t really bother me at all. The tax man bothers me, I’m scared of him. Honestly the scariest thing for me is not growing, not continuing to grow. What if this is it? What if I don’t continue to grow? Since I’m still working a full time job, every cent of my free money is dumping into the business in terms of advertising, blog marketing, SEO, everything. So I guess it’s one of those what if I fail still. So maybe I am still scared of the same things.
V: And do you still do the same things to help with that fear?
L: Yeah. Honestly, I do because I have to press through it. I can’t quit now. I have thousands of dollars of merchandise in my house. I can’t quit. Not that I honestly want to. It’s just…it comes down to do I want to feel the fear or do I want to ignore it? And I choose to ignore it. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the show Lost. So in the first episode, I can’t remember if it’s…what’s his name? Jack?
V: Yeah, the doctor?
L: Yeah, the doctor or the girl…I can’t remember what her name is on the show, but her name is Evangeline Lilly in real life. One of them says to the other “You can only let fear hold you for three seconds and then you have to push through it.” Even in non business related things I’ve been trying, at least that, to deal with it. I’m scared of bugs. I saw a cockroach yesterday I was like “Alright. One, two, three. Squish!” That doesn’t necessarily work in the business sense exactly, but it comes down to whether you’re gonna let yourself feel this fear or not. If you’re going to let fear consume you, then don’t get out of bed. (Varonica note: I found a clip of this scene on Youtube)
V: What advice would you give to someone who has a dream or something that they want to do but they feel like they can’t do it because they’re afraid?
L: If you don’t try, you’ll never know. Do you want to be “what could have been?” or do you want to be like “I did this”? I tried this. I failed at this, but I still did it. That seems better to me than saying “Yeah, I thought about that, but I never did it.” How many people’s lives would be different if they said “I was kind of nervous to do this or that so I didn’t”? What if they had done that? What if? The swimmer who completed the swim from Cuba to Florida yesterday, did you read about that? (Varonica note: Diana completed her swim September 2, 2013). She was 64 years old! She tried that for the first time when she was 22. That’s amazing! And she had so many reasons to be scared and she did not let it stop her. And honestly anyone that’s successful, unless your dad is Bill Gates or something and you’re naturally rich… Bill Gates must have been terrified. Steve Jobs had to have been scared. But people do not end up successful without sucking it up. For lack of a…you know that’s a really good phrase. Suck it up. Deal with it.
V: Is there anything else you want to say?
L: I guess when it comes down to it for advice, then this is what I keep telling myself too if you look for excuses why, you’ll never do anything. If you stop looking for excuses and start doing, that’s when you’ll actually do stuff. And another thing, I read this on Whitney English’s blog, it’s like the idea behind her business. She writes a list of the top three To-dos of that day. So if you break down everything you want to do for an entire week but only give yourself three things to do in a day it seems so much less than giving yourself 21 or more and if you only cross off two off your list. Oh, I still got two thirds done versus oh, I only got two out of 21 things done, that sucks. Divide and conquer and I think that’s the best way to do it. Rome wasn’t built in a day. You can’t expect to finish everything you want to do, but you still have to start in order to do it.
So that’s Lauren’s story. Visit her boutique Lamalu to learn more about her and see some of the fashionable and reasonably priced items she has (she’s not paying me to write this!). Aside from the “Yoda moment,” my favorite part of the interview was seeing how sometimes it takes a while to get up the nerve to do what you’ve dreamed of doing, but it’s never too late to start. What have you been thinking of doing for a while that you can take some steps towards today, fear and all? And if you haven’t already, please sign up for email updates under the pretty blue box on the right (or down below if you’re reading this on a mobile device).
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