3 Lessons on My Entrepreneurial Anniversary

I launched my first business, my first entrepreneurial venture, in college. For almost a decade I held down Mint Tea Brand Agency, once Amber Jinae Public Relations, as a side hustle. I spent my days working full-time for other companies’ marketing departments — the University of Maryland’s student union, a Mid-Atlantic HVAC distributor, a global commercial real estate firm, and then the largest nonprofit grantmaker in DC.

Finally, I’d had enough of working hard for someone else. I built a dedicated client base and network to sustain my transition and keep referrals coming in. I put money to the side to provide a buffer on rainy days. And then I jumped. October 1, 2018 was my first day operating Mint Tea as my full-time position. Over the course of one year I’ve grown personally and professionally, taking special note of what works and what doesn’t work for me. And because sharing is caring, what better way to celebrate the anniversary of my big leap? 


If you want it, go for it.

The universe sends messages, and you have to listen to them. I’m Type A and have serious anxiety. I thought if I spent a lot of time on the perfect plan, I’d find the right time. That time never came. My parents asked if I wanted to wait until I got through the holidays to leave my job. I didn’t. My partner, who’d taken the leap two years prior, asked if I was sure I wanted to take on the rollercoaster of entrepreneurship. I was. So I did. My plan wasn’t perfect, but I wanted this so badly that I figured: if not now, when?

 I had to learn how to deal with fluctuating income; for more than 10 years I earned a steady paycheck. I had to learn how to manage healthcare, retirement, and taxes (still my least favorite part of this). I had to learn how to manage design clients while re-implementing public relations services and being out on the road with my artists. And it wasn’t easy. I took a lot of Ls along the way, but I can’t say I’m not proud of how I grew. The comfort, the perfect time, and the right plan were going to keep me stagnant; the challenges, the lessons, and the conflicts helped shape my new entrepreneurial worldview.

 

Own your new schedule.

The work will always be there, and the to-do list really doesn’t end. When I first took the leap, I thought this new journey meant I had to embrace a “no days off” mentality. I worked mornings into late nights, and then weekends. No surprise here: eventually I burned out. I realized my to-do list is a living, breathing thing — always growing. I’ll rarely reach 100% completion before something else is added, and that’s okay. But it doesn’t mean I have to work around the clock like I’m trying to prove myself wrong. I finally remembered that part of the joy of entrepreneurship is making my own schedule and running my business my way. I can set my own hours, I can turn down projects I don’t have capacity to handle, and I can set timelines for me. Hello evenings, weekends, self-care, and family time! And I work better, and smarter, because of this newfound balance.

 

Curate a strong support system.

I can’t imagine navigating this journey alone. When the going gets tough, as it tends to do, I have a ridiculously strong support system to keep me from falling completely apart. My partner, my parents, and some amazing friends-slash-business-partners nudge me to take breaks, deep breaths, and do what’s needed to reset. And I can’t thank them enough.  


In this last year, I picked up great new clients, worked on my first music tour, and even took on COO roles in businesses I never thought I’d touch. And while “figure it out along the way” is typically a villainous concept to my fellow Type A + anxiety folks, it’s been my adrenaline. I’m excited for the next year, and the years that follow.

 I created Mint Tea Brand Agency to support creatives, entrepreneurs, and even occasional nonprofits who are passionate about their work but don’t want to worry about the branding, marketing, or public relations side. To take on this work full-time, under my own direction, carving my own path, is a dream I’m proud has become my reality.

Amber Jinae is a graphic designer, brand manager, and the owner of Mint Tea Brand Agency. Find her on Instagram and Twitter: @amberjinae.