Jaime Derringer is Founder and Executive Editor of modern design blog Design Milk, which has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Time Out New York, San Francisco Chronicle, Singapore Home & Decor magazine, and Real Simple magazine. Inspired by her love for dogs, in 2010 Jaime launched modern design blog Dog Milk to expose dog lovers to pet design that fits their uniquely modern sense of style. She recently launched a modern jewelry shop called Adorn Milk that caters to people who love architectural and artistic adornments. Follow her @jaimederringer.
What is the first thing you did to turn your current business from an idea into a reality?
I started accepting advertising on my website. As soon as I did that, I realized that this might actually be something I could do for a living. I didn’t initially set out to start a business; it all happened very organically.
What is the scariest part of being a young entrepreneur and how can others overcome this fear?
Doing things you don’t know how to do. I wasn’t a business major in college, I knew nothing about HTML coding, server administration, accounting, payroll, etc. I just taught myself what I needed to know to get by and when I could, handed over some things to someone with more experience. When you’re excited about something, you will do anything to make it happen — even learn how to code!
Were you ever told not to pursue your entrepreneurial dreams? Who told you that, what did they say and why did you ignore them?
I put obstacles in my own way early on and realize now that I am glad I had the courage to move them aside. Sometimes getting past your own hangups and negative self-talk is harder than dealing with anyone else.
What is the No. 1 thing you wish you’d known starting out and how did you learn it?
I wish someone would have told me it’s OK to say no. I think when you’re starting out, it’s important to say yes to a lot of things: it gets you places. However, at some point it can be overwhelming and feel like a burden. So, it’s OK to say no. Saying no to something work-related means saying yes to something else — like hanging out with family or enjoying the fruits of your labor.
What do you recommend all new founders do for their business — or their personal lives — that will help them the most?
Get on a schedule and stick to it! Planning and creating a routine is really important. As passionate entrepreneurs, we could literally work 24/7 because we love it so much. But it’s key to create a work/life balance from the beginning.
How do you end each day and why?
I make sure to get enough sleep. Getting enough rest makes you a better worker, partner and parent. So while you might pull a few all-nighters, make sure you rest up.
What is your best PR/marketing tip for business just starting up?
Get on social media right away. Having an online presence beyond your website is key to reaching your customers, clients or partners. Don’t feel like you have to do it all, but get out there and try all of it and see what sticks.
What is your ultimate goal? What will you do if/when you get there?
Happiness is my ultimate goal. I am less focused on numbers and more focused on doing fun things that I enjoy every day. I like having goals, but I prefer to keep them flexible and fluid so I can change and adapt as my business does. When running an Internet business, you have to be able to change with the tide.
BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.