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On taking the leap

Adopting the mindset of an entrepreneur changed how I work

Kuan Luo
Kuan Luo
Sep 20, 2018 · 3 min read

Every week, I write a blog post as part of my self-guided learning program. Two weeks ago, I wrote a wedding speech that no one asked me to give.


I was busy last week. Despite not having a job, I didn’t have time to write, for myself at least. I researched activities near Mt. Tremblant in Québec, launched a podcast, wrote a newsletter and a blog post for For the Women Retreat. I scheduled a week’s worth of Instagram, and sent many emails.

Ten weeks into my funemployed life, I realized that I actually have a job. I’m working on FTW Retreat full-time, and am creating more ways to connect and empower women leaders in tech. My calendar, for once, is free of meetings, but full of to-dos and aspirations.

In awakening to the fact that I’m self-employed, I noticed a subtle but powerful shift in my mindset.

If you had asked me what I did for a living a few weeks ago, I would have said that I am a digital designer and writer. But now, my answer is that I’m an entrepreneur, building a business that connects and empowers women in tech.

entrepreneur: a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.

The change of mindset has already made a positive impact on how I work.

First, I no longer seek permission from industry experts to charge into unknown territories. Taking risks is part of the DNA of an entrepreneur, and failure is just another event when running a business. I had no idea how to create a podcast until I did, and now have to foresight to consider that it’s worthwhile to test longer, more substantial content.

I could have waited to get proper equipment, nail a sponsorship, or ask my musician friends to record a theme song before I recorded my first episode with Sabrina. But these prerequisites are nothing but excuses in disguise. Entrepreneurs learn by doing, and with my newly acquired mindset, I feel braver than ever.

Second, every aspect of a business becomes very interesting all of a sudden. I no longer have a prejudice against finance models, sales emails, marketing calendar, and partnership development. In fact, those subjects have been the most fun to pick up and learn.

As a solo entrepreneur, I have no one to delegate tasks. By doing every little thing for the business, I gain new appreciation and respect to domains I knew very little about. I quickly learned that in order to make a business successful, every aspect of it must work in tandem.

“A business is a repeatable process that makes money. Everything else is a hobby.” — Paul Freet

Lastly, I ask for help as quickly as I can to avoid being stuck on a problem for too long. As a recovering Type A personality, I am not used to asking others for help. But with the long list of to-dos for the business, I have to use my time efficiently, which doesn’t just mean better task prioritization. More importantly, I’m forced to spend as little time as possible being stuck, because being stuck gets me nowhere. I’m either pushing forward with experiments or falling backward on my mistakes so I can learn a lesson or two. Being stuck wastes precious time for an entrepreneur.

In the past few weeks, I’ve become better at turning to friends and ex-colleagues for help. And I’m grateful to have worked at companies that recruited incredible talents, so I have a network of experts to turn to for advice on engineering, marketing, sales and operations.

Don’t get me wrong. Building a business is still a lonely affair and a strenuous endeavor, especially as a woman, because no one else cares about my business as much as I do. Still, I get to learn new skills, meet amazing women in tech, and take risks to make a living doing the things I love: travel, build communities, nurture tech culture, and empower women.

And I must say, being an entrepreneur is pretty darn exciting.


Follow Back and Forth for my thoughts on starting a business, being a digital nomad, and travel.

Back and Forth

Every week, Kuan writes about life, travel, meditation…

Kuan Luo

Written by

Kuan Luo

Designer-turned-entrepreneur. @joinelpha, @ftwretreat, etc. Always traveling.

Back and Forth

Every week, Kuan writes about life, travel, meditation, design and stories you inspire her to tell. She is building @ftwretreat, and has previously led design at CockroachDB, Etsy, Grand St, Washington Post, and Objective Subject.

Kuan Luo

Written by

Kuan Luo

Designer-turned-entrepreneur. @joinelpha, @ftwretreat, etc. Always traveling.

Back and Forth

Every week, Kuan writes about life, travel, meditation, design and stories you inspire her to tell. She is building @ftwretreat, and has previously led design at CockroachDB, Etsy, Grand St, Washington Post, and Objective Subject.

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