Yigal Azrouel Fashion ShowLife is funny; when you’re in the moment, you have no idea where it’s going to lead. I’ve learned that you just need to trust yourself and stick to what you believe in and — most importantly — what you love.
If someone had told me 10 years ago that by the age of 29, I would have already owned three businesses, I would have laughed. But standing here now, I know that if you work hard and really believe in what you’re doing, the path will present itself. It might not be what you originally pictured, but that won’t make it any less exciting and rewarding.
When I turned 18, I had the option to go straight to college or continue with equestrian jumping, an activity I had been passionate about for practically my entire life and one which I was sure I could turn into a career. Many people told me that it was in my best interest to go to school, but I knew deep down that school wasn’t for me at that moment. So I continued to ride and compete.
Four years later, I had competed in World Cup Qualifiers as well as internationally, exceeding expectations with lots of hard work. I also had my first business — training young riders and buying and selling horses from Europe to the States. Looking back, this was an irreplaceable period of my life — if I hadn’t trusted my gut, I wouldn’t have gained this experience that helped define the person I am today.
After six years with the horses, I decided it was finally time to go back to school. While attending the University of Miami, I had the opportunity to open my own boutique fitness club. Again, I would never have imagined this scenario for myself, but it was the most amazing experience, and I loved every second of it. Managing and owning a health club was a great learning experience and I took so much away from it.
So here I am, 10 years later, and now I’ve started a fashion technology company called LoveThatFit. The idea came as a result of experiences garnered from owning my past two businesses — from the struggles that both my clients and myself have had with online shopping. Until now.
Here are 3 things I did to to make this solution a reality:
- Believe. When you first see the solution to a problem in a way that has not been done before, be prepared for negativity. Take it all in, but believe in your idea and know that just because it is “different” or “new” does not mean it cannot be done.
- Talk. When I first approached people with my idea, they told me to keep it to myself or else someone was going to steal it. However, I found that talking it out with people not only helped my idea become real, but also opened up the door to resources that helped accomplish my milestones.
- Research. Of course, you must do your research on your competition, market, and concept, but you should also do research on the people you start to surround yourself with. I received a lot of pressure to have certain people on board, like a CTO. So I did, but it turned out to be a bad fit because I rushed it. Take the time to find the right people to join your venture, and make sure they add value to your team. Research their background and those they’ve worked with previously. Doing so early on will pay off in the long run.
No matter what happens, take something from each of your successes and failures and find the key aspects to learn from. Keep your drive and discipline alive, because those are priceless qualities in every industry. Be open to new ideas and dive in. Fear solves nothing, but enthusiasm and curiosity manifest thoughts and ideas into something that is larger then life. When you take the leap into entrepreneurship, I can’t promise it will be easy, but it will take you to places you’ve never even dreamed of.
Gina Mancuso is the founder of LoveThatFit, and a seasoned entrepreneur with a genuine, proven skill for growing businesses. A professional equestrian at 18, she parlayed her success in the ring (she made it to the Olympic trials) into success in business. She bought and sold horses internationally, doing over a half million in revenue on profit margins frequently approaching 80 percent.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently published #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of 30+ proven solutions to help end youth unemployment.