Before I became an entrepreneur I talked to dozens of people in and out of my sphere who were entrepreneurs themselves. They ranged in age, in industry, in experience. I took copious notes during our coffee and lunch meetings. I asked as many questions as I could think of from accounting to hiring to rent to GST. While these meetings proved to be illuminating in many ways there is a core element of business ownership that is simply in the doing, while you may be equipped with knowledge from others experiences and mistakes, you have to simply go forward yourself. If you're lucky you learn from the mistakes of others and this helps you avoid the perils and pitfalls of entrepreneurship.

One of the common threads among this group of people is what I came to categorize as the "Phone Call". In no uncertain terms almost all the entrepreneurs indicated they had someone (or a few people) they could pick up the phone anytime - literally, anytime- to talk to them. At the time I thought nothing of the advice, but I have come to see that without this powerful phone call I would have crumbled dozens of times over. I have gathered a small crew of people -mentors, fellow entrepreneurs, friends- who are these people I call. Entrepreneurs are an especially strong resource because of their compassion and understanding: I've been in the darkness, I've struggled too, let me help you see the light.

I made one of these phone calls this week. I waited for the long distance call to go through, the male voice on the other side wasn't even surprised with how I started the call.

"I don't know how I am going to finish this week," I began.

"Where are you right now?" the question was kind but firm.

I looked around. I was sitting underneath my desk in my new office I just moved into March 1st.  It felt childish to admit it, a full grown woman in a blazer and dress pants shoeless under the desk, but vulnerability is a part of the whole deal when sharing with another person.

"I'm, uh, sitting under my desk." I waited for a beat before I started to cry and explain my current dilemma to him, the silence after was long and lingering. The story poured out, my frustration, my anger, my irritation, my inability to problem solve for the fatigue and narrow lens I was viewing the world through. He listened patiently, he let me cry ugly heaving sobs into my iPhone, and then he began.

"First things first, you know what you need to do." He started, I nodded my head. He recounted the story to me, breaking down in little pieces what I'd shared.

"Holly, you need to get up from under your desk." I slid out on my butt until I was sitting in the middle of the office space. "Now you need to stand up." I stood. "Now you need to go back to your desk and make a list, one step at a time, of what you need to do." He stayed on the line while I made my list, we worked back through it together. I began to breathe deeply again, I looked at the list.

"Finally," he said, "I know you. Go to the bathroom and wash your face of all the mascara that is on your cheeks. Go and make a cup of tea. Come back to the desk and start your phone calls. You know what you need to do."

I am standing up straight in the room, reaching for my shoes.

"You're going to be OK. You know that, right?" I take a deep breath.

"I know."

I would argue all people should have that someone you can call. Regardless of your career, your background. For entrepreneurs this phone call ability carries an extra weight of importance, our fortunes, our families, our friends and health tied deeply and completely to the work we do. I've been saved by these calls, talked off the ledge by my sister, Alex, Avnish, Marc, Paul and Russ. I'm lucky - and I know I couldn't keep moving forward without these people in my corner.

Piera Gelardi, co-founder of Refinery 29, published an article recently called, "10 Secrets for a More Creative Life." In it she recounts her formula for success, including, "Figure out what success looks like" (spoiler: it looks different for each person), "Be Open to Inspiration in All Forms" and "Be Creatively Courageous".  Gelardi admits she is often moved to tears on a daily basis, and while to many this may be considered weak, she sees it as "there is so much magic and meaning all around us I can't tune it out." This powerful sentiment arrived exactly when I needed it, at one of my professionally weaker moments.


I'm no where near the end of that list I made only a few days ago, but I'm working on it. Despite the pain and frustration and tears and madness, I still love the work I do. To close with Gelardi:

I believe as humans we're in a perpetual state of creating ourselves. That can be unsatisfying at times, but I think it's realistic and keeps us pushing forward. We're more able to forgive ourselves when things go wrong, because there is always a next time. My motto is "Forever Forward".