The Things I’m Glad I Didn’t Know When I Started My Business

Photo courtesy of Danielle Vincent.

Photo courtesy of Danielle Vincent.

This post was originally published at Outlaw Soaps—Pyragraph’s favorite place to get handmade soap—and is reposted here with kind permission.

Yesterday, I wrote about something I learned that I wish I knew about when I was first starting the business.

After spending a couple days moping around about not knowing what I didn’t know, and reflecting that maybe I wouldn’t have started my business had I known…I realized this:

I probably wouldn’t have started my business if I knew that it would take three years to achieve profitability.

That’s the kind of world I want to live in, and I get to be that change in the world.

I knew that 50% of businesses never made it to their third year and 80% never made it to their fifth, but I thought I was a special snowflake. Certainly, my marketing and enthusiasm and sheer gumption would overcome any statistical odds.

I bought into that old “the universe will catch you if you jump” mantra that new-agey people constantly spout. I didn’t think about the fact that 100% of small business owners take a jump, and the universe doesn’t catch 80% of them.

My ignorance brought me to this place, here, where we have finally begun to achieve profitability. Even though by many measures, we should never have started this business.

And I am glad.

I’m glad that I didn’t know about “breaking even points.” I’m glad I didn’t even know what I didn’t know. I’m glad that people probably told me these things, and I just didn’t listen.

Having this business has been one of the most exciting, challenging and amazing things I have ever done with my life.

It has challenged me to be a better writer, accountant, time manager, tester, strategist, process guru, networker and, of course, marketer. It has taught me that when I get knocked on my ass, I need to brush myself off, put on a smile, and get back to work. It has taught me that I can pretty much learn anything if I set my mind to it: packaging design, social media, web development, accounting, business strategy, production, heck, even mural painting…the list goes on, and still isn’t even remotely finished.

At my old job, I was really under-challenged. I wanted to work hard and I wanted my work to create some difference in the world. Even working on the Lance Armstrong and Oprah interview, I knew that if it wasn’t me doing it, someone else could do it. But here, doing this, I’m the person who is doing it. The business would be a different entity if it was run by anyone else.

I matter. I have a purpose. I may just be a little free particle, but I’m a free particle with a voice.

We’re meeting new and amazing people every day, and these new and amazing people are making decisions and recommendations that shape the business. Because in a world where I matter, you also matter.

That’s the kind of world I want to live in, and I get to be that change in the world.

And that’s entirely because I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

Who knows what the future holds? We started selling at some local Whole Foods Markets, we have been in chats with ThinkGeek about a new line, we’re starting a new website section (at the encouragement of our customer, James, which he doesn’t know yet)…lots of exciting things are on the horizon.

But we’re still a very new business held together with shoestrings and dreams.

And by golly, I do believe we have the grit (and customers) it takes to keep on.

As always, thank you for being on this journey with us. You are part of our business.

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About Danielle Vincent

After more than 10 years as a corporate digital product manager for such sites as,, and, Danielle Vincent quit her career and pulled up her rubber gloves to make a living manufacturing and selling soaps as Outlaw Soaps. Her experience with social media, product management, web analytics, business, and design have made Outlaw Soaps into a personal experiment as she finds out what happens when she applies her largely digital learnings to the real world.

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