Remarks from Editor-In-Chief, Roma Christian: Jodi Lee Duncan is one of those rare founders who isn’t afraid to show the vulnerable side of startups and side hustles. With an authenticity that is complemented by resilient courage, this behind-the-scenes ‘letter to my younger self’ provides an inspiring peek into the journey of successfully pivoting towards entrepreneurship after job loss – told in a beautifully empowering way. In a season where people need hope, Jodi’s letter is a refreshingly timely, honest encouragement.
“In 2019 I started a new business and when COVID hit a few months later it fell to the wayside, while my other business took all my attention. Last year, I relaunched the business with a refreshed website, and in just a few weeks was more successful than the original launch!”
“I almost decided not to go through with it and let the business idea go.”
Letter To My Past Self: Jodi Lee Duncan
To my younger self,
Let me start off by telling you something about future you. You are going to be so damn proud of yourself one day, and not just for everything that you have done and created, but for your strength and resilience that has pushed you through some of the toughest times in your life.
Spoiler alert… you are going to grow up and become a total badass.
But let’s get real, badass aside you need to know a few things about future you.
In fact, it’s probably one of the best things that will happen to you and you’ll go onto to be grateful for this every day moving forward. Sounds strange, I know, but off the back of that you are going to start two businesses six months apart (yes, you’re crazy ideas don’t get any less crazy as you get older). Look, I’m not going to sugar coat it, it’s going to be damn hard work and no-one can prepare you for exactly how hard; you have to experience it to understand it. But I can tell you, that every tear, every win, every self-doubting moment will be worth it – I promise you.
When the time finally comes when you make the leap into business life, there are a few things I want you to know, so future you gets it right because I want you to succeed and I want you to be happy; more than anything in this world.
So, grab a pen and paper and write this down:
1. First and most importantly, find your tribe
I can’t express how important this is. Surrounding yourself with likeminded people who get what you’re doing and why you’re doing it makes business life less lonely; which eases a lot of the load. They’ll cry with you when things go wrong, dance around their office (via Zoom) when you have your wins and support you no matter what. But most importantly, you will grow from (and with) them and your business will thrive because of it.
2. Secondly, if at first you don’t succeed, it’s not game over
Your second business, Love from J, wasn’t quite a fail, but it also didn’t go exactly how you’d planned – like you planned to go right and it went left. You’ll try to move forward with it but due to a charming global health pandemic, you are going to continue hitting roadblocks and getting knocked back so eventually you’ll throw it in the ‘too hard basket’.
But what I can tell you is your intuition doesn’t sway as you get older so continue to follow your gut. And when the world is screaming for more kindness, people are struggling mentally from being locked in their houses and separated from family (long story, but you’ll know what I mean when you hit 2020), and people are focussing more on what they lost rather than being grateful for they have… that’s your green light baby.
Run with it and rebrand the business so that kindness, gratitude and self-love is at the core of everything you do. I can tell you that while it seems hard at the time and not everything will go right, every step you take will be a step forward and it will be worth it. AND people will love what you create; like they will actually pay you money to buy your products, crazy right?
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3. Next up – it’s ok to doubt yourself, everyone does (and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying)
Imposter Syndrome is very real and very much alive in the business world and I’m afraid to say, you’re going to suffer from it; but you’re not alone. I can’t tell you yet if it ever goes away, but I can tell you you will learn to deal with it when it rears its ugly head and that tribe I was bragging about before; they’ll be there to help you through it. Believe me when I say, you are a tougher cookie that you think you are and your confidence will shine through.
4. Educate yourself… continuously
Listen to podcasts (you have no idea what that is yet, but you will one day so trust me on that), read books, go to networking events and hear from people who have been where you are, attend workshops and webinars, watch TED talks (another thing of the future, sorry).
You’ll be surprised where ideas spring from, or when inspiration will strike.
5. Finally, take time out and don’t feel guilty about it
Don’t let your businesses consume your entire life, because there is a lot happening on the outside that you need to experience, and people you need to experience it with. You’re pretty good at doing this already but at times you forget to stop and smell the roses, so this is just a friendly reminder that it’s really important to put your phone down, step outside and enjoy your life.
P.S When you’re older you’ll love paddleboarding and spending time with your dog (oh my goodness… you get your own dog and he is the absolute cutest, I’m not even kidding. I can’t wait for you to meet him).
At the end of the day, life isn’t going to be full of fun and laughter, talking forest animals and prince charming like the Disney fairy tales that you watch every other day. And business, it’s not an overnight success like the movies make it out to be. Sorry kiddo! It is going to be full of fabulous adventures and wonderful people.
I want to leave you with a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote I came across earlier this week: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” I want you to know that you have the ability to do anything that you set your mind too (with a little research and planning): so please don’t doubt yourself.
Dream big sweets! The world is at your feet.