10 Lessons I’ve learned in 10 Years as a Solopreneur

The last week of April, I present my senior capstone in order to graduate from college with my Bachelor’s degree. I called it Ai-Konic Graphics.

Ai-Konic Graphics logo and brand image of me.
Ai-Konic Graphics logo and brand image.

At that time, I never thought about being a business owner but I knew about entrepreneurship or should I say, the hustle. I knew how to do it.

The logo I create for my brand is meant to be “mailable” or to adapt to change. It’s been a bold black for that reason.

The brand has changed and my mission has evolved. Here’s 10 things I’ve learned along the way.

  • Do less, but better. I used to wanted to offer everything. Now I narrowed down to three areas of focus (max), then do those things exceptionally well. Becoming known for the things you’re great at is a lot easier than being great at everything.
  • Work hard, yes, but also just be really, really nice. People never expect it. They also won’t forget it. The most disruptive thing you can do in your industry is care more than anyone else. Without exception, the most successful people we’ve worked with are also the kindest.
  • Your differences are your superpower. I had to accept and learn that I was just a different kind of black woman. What you view as your biggest weaknesses are likely your greatest assets.
  • Great marketing won’t make people buy a product they don’t want. Great marketing makes good products irresistible. When you invest the majority of your time into getting your offer right, selling it gets way, way easier.
  • No matter what anyone says, it’s okay to hustle for a season. In fact, it’s necessary. Entrepreneurship is a marathon, and all successful training schedules have two things in common: 1 ) a LOT of running, and 2 ) rest. Don’t shame yourself for running — just make sure you rest between sprints.
  • Failure is inevitable, universal, and temporary. Let failures be lessons, then let them go.
  • Don’t let anyone trick you into building a dream that isn’t yours. Too many people have always tried to tell me I shouldn’t go for my dream or be a designer. Just because they do it, doesn’t mean you have to. (Even if it works for them.) Just because you could, doesn’t mean you have to. Just because you’re good at it doesn’t mean you have to do it for a living.
  • In your business (but also in life), make time to do more of the things 1 ) you actually enjoy, and 2 ) you’re irreplaceably great at. (Incorporating more of what you love and who you are into what you do = a business you enjoy.) Remember what it felt like when you fell in love with what you do. Then do more of that.
  • The most successful brands don’t just make products — they create solutions, build communities, and tell great stories. They educate, inform, inspire, entertain, and relate. You can outrun the competition simply by adding more value wherever you are.
  • Amid all the KPIs, launches, revenue markers, stretch goals, and successes, don’t forget that your biggest milestones happen outside of work. This is what you do, not who you are.

Hope that’s helpful for you! Would love to hear from you if so.

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