Wearing my heart on my startup

I’m turned inside out.

All the dreams and beliefs I used to hold inside until it felt safe to share them are out there now, all the time, for everyone to see. The trouble with starting a business so firmly rooted in who I am is that I feel really exposed.

What if people don’t like it? What if they don’t respond to it? What if it fails? Replace ‘it’ with ‘me’ or ‘I’ and you’re listening to the little voice in my head. When, inevitably, something doesn’t quite work out as planned, it’s hard not to take it personally.

But it’s worth it.

Never have so many incredible, likeminded people been in touch, offering their support or asking to join forces. The quick visit to Sophie Howarth’s pop-up shop that led to a memorable meeting over a long walk in the park. The short comment on a Medium post by Edlyn Yuen that paved the way for a transatlantic collaboration. The tiny act of kindness that, years later, made me realise there’s nothing more gratifying than finding out someone you admire thinks you’re pretty swell too.

From Cape Town to Vancouver, people I have yet to meet in person have become close collaborators and contributors. From New York to Melbourne, people are spreading the word. Here in London, I’m surrounded by some of the most thoughtful people I’ve ever known. Friends have become partners, and vice versa. As the size of the challenge increases so, thankfully, does the size of the community.

“Community” can be a dull word in our digital day and age. But at its best, it’s what you call a group of people you feel comfortable being yourself around. These are the people who ‘get it’ (and get me) enough to help answer tough questions, spark new ideas and share the load. I’m humbled by their interest in Thoughtful, and in the person behind it.

I’ve been wearing my insides on the outside and hoping others find value in it. That can feel awkward and vulnerable. But when you realise how much easier this makes it for kindred spirits to find you, from across the room or thousands of miles away, it just feels right.

Part of A Thoughtful Diary, thoughts on what it’s really like to start a business — the good, the bad and the in between — as it happens.

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