Do you know what today is?
It's our anniversary (it's our, it's our special day)
-Toni! Tony! Tone!, “Anniversary”
Usually we don’t do this, but since it’s a special occasion, we just had to: “Happy Anniversary to Us!” The month of April marks the Three Year Anniversary of Diplomatic Enterprises, LLC and what a 3 years it has been. It’s hard to believe that it’s been three years since we first opened our doors and hung our shingle in a quest to deliver exceptional consulting and management services to the world. However, what’s not hard to believe is that as a byproduct of the faith and fortitude of our entire team, we’re still here and going strong.
The last three years have taught us a few things, well more than a few, but we decided to avoid typing an exhaustive list of lessons learned (which include the importance of expense reports, making sure your co-workers aren’t on the phone before you crank up the music and not eating other people’s food in the communal fridge). But, in the spirit of giving, and to mark this occasion, we decided to share 3 of the most important lessons we’ve learned as a company:
- Consulting is hard y’all
We have never been short on confidence and ability, but being an entrepreneur will make you question both and even make you wonder what exactly is your purpose in life. We never thought it would be easy, but we’re not quite sure we thought it would be this hard either.
One of the toughest lessons to learn when you transition from working for “the man/woman” to being “the man/woman” is that you’re responsible for all of the things that happen behind the scenes, which makes you realize how much you took them for granted when you didn’t have to worry about them. As a small business owner, often times you’re the Founder/President/Administrative Assistant/IT Specialist/Travel Agent/Janitor/Chief People Officer. While you shouldn’t put all of this on your business card, you should absolutely put this is in your calculus before you strike out on your own because it comes with a lot more work than you will probably ever consider.
Throughout our 3-year adventure, we’ve found that this is one of the most important but overlooked and neglected aspects of entrepreneurship: accounting for the administrative and back office work AND the immense amount of time it takes to complete them. You never know how long it takes to answer the phones, respond to emails and send out invoices until you’re doing all of that, in addition to running the company.
We don’t want to scare you from pursuing a startup; however, we do want you to go in wide-eyed and fully aware. Do: Take our advice under consideration. Don’t: Take your secretary or administrative professional for granted.
- You won’t close every deal and that’s okay
About half of the executive staff here has a law degree, which is both a gift and a curse. The majority of individuals who go to and finish law school are Type A personalities. Type A is usually the label applied to individuals who are ambitious, rigidly organized, highly status-conscious, sensitive, impatient, anxious, proactive, and concerned with time management. People with Type A personalities are often high-achieving “workaholics.” In theory, building your entrepreneurial foundation with these types of people is great. In practice, this is awful; just awful.
At Howard University School of Law (“The HUSL”) the saying was, “Somebody has to get the ‘D’”, meaning you could work hard, but because of the grading curve, someone would earn a grade below passing. This forces individuals, who are already eager to impress and accustomed to success, to work even harder. Take these people out of a legal setting, where there are rules, regulations and clear paths to success/winning, and place them into the world of business, where good ideas/products don’t always equate to you being named in the Forbes’ Fortune 500 and “Houston we have a problem.”
For the sake of viability, we’ve been forced to accept losing because if you can’t lose a pitch or a client and move on to the next task, both you and your company will never survive. You won’t win all the time (i.e., see Jordan, 2016 Golden State Warriors, Serena Williams and every person to ever live). Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” The question you must ask yourself is, “How will I measure up in the face of challenge and controversy?”
- Long days, long nights just to keep on the lights
There are never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever enough seconds, minutes or hours in the day to handle everything you want (and need) to do. Each day of every week, we create “To Do Lists” based on client benchmarks and organizational goals. Every day of every week, we fall short of accomplishing all of the goals on the list. Yes, client goals get met, we make it to all of our meetings and deliverables are delivered when they’re due, if not early. However, outside of those things, we almost never accomplish everything on our to-do list. Why? Because life gives 0 fu**s about your agenda. Everyone who has ever woken up and taken a shower has had hopes and dreams. The reason why many of those hopes and dreams never get accomplished is because once you get out of the shower, life happens.
Make time to enjoy life while you’re trying to take over the world, or life will pass you by. Go on vacation, take time off and, for God’s sake, DO NOT go to work when you’re sick. No one wants that. The key to adulting is learning to prioritize personal and professional goals, family, friends, occasional day-baseball games, lunch away from your desk, sleep and vacation. It’s the only way you will remain sane and keep your company afloat.
In closing, we’d like to thank the members of “Team Diplomat” for their hard work, patience, sense of humor and ingenuity: Clinton, Piper, Alexa, Keenan, Jennifer, Sydney & Natasha. Your contributions to the team are invaluable and we’re blessed to work with you. We’d like to thank every single client, both past and present, for taking the risk, engaging us and helping to build us into the brand we are today – one that is better than we were 3 years ago, but not nearly as great as we plan to be next year and beyond.
It truly is a privilege and an honor to work with brands and companies to take them from where they are and elevate them to where they want to be: the best possible versions of themselves. While there are always bumps, gripes, complaints and occasional tears on the entrepreneurial road, we wouldn’t trade it in for anything in the world (well maybe for a yacht, a jet and the crown as Rulers of the Universe, but we’d have to really think about it). Thank you for reading and sharing the blog and feel free to drop a comment below.