When Miko Branch co-founded the curly hair product empire Miss Jessie’s with her sister, she expected it to change her life, but she had no clue it would make her an even better person. I sat down with Branch to get the inside scoop on her entrepreneurial journey and walked away with five interesting nuggets about self-improvement through entrepreneurship.
1. You become more accountable.
Entrepreneurship made Branch step up her accountability game. She believes her business made a woman out of her. When you own your own business, you are the boss. There is no one looking over your shoulder making sure you do the work. As an entrepreneur, you have to learn to hold yourself accountable, or you will not succeed. Becoming more responsible in business made Branch more accountable in her personal life as well. She finds herself fulfilling friendships by simply keeping up her end of the partnership — like being there when she commits to something.
2. You become a better friend.
Starting a business with a partner is not always smooth sailing. Branch was able to transfer the skills she gained from her partnership with her sister into her other relationships. Business partnerships are very similar to marriages. You’re in it together, for richer or poorer. You learn to be each other’s support team, and pick up the slack to make sure your business succeeds. In friendships, Branch has found she is more willing to compromise and come to a common ground during times of disputes or confusion so that in the end, the overall friendship will succeed — because of her experience as an entrepreneur.
3. You become more empathetic.
According to Branch, empathy is a key factor to being an excellent boss. As the CEO of Miss Jessie’s, Branch applies empathy in trying to understand her employees. She puts herself in the shoes of the employee to help figure out the best way to solve a dilemma. She finds that the process is very revealing, and often there is a better understanding on the matter, which in turn brings solutions that can work for all. She makes it a point not only to be empathetic to employees but also to her existing and future business partners. A fair and balanced experience will sustain a longer term relationship.
4. You become a three-dimensional thinker.
Becoming an entrepreneur will change the way you think. Owning a business is a 24-hour-a-day job, and it will keep you on your toes. Branch has become a more three-dimensional thinker and tries to see problems from several different perspectives. When she had to start building her empire, she didn’t have experience in management. She needed to learn and understand the process of creating her team to help her properly grow and expand her business. For Branch, one of the benefits of being a three-dimensional thinker is when she approaches situations from another person’s perspective. She is always adding her staff and employees into the equation to make sure Miss Jessie’s is the best it can be.
5. You become more confident.
When it was clear that she could combine her passion in life with her career, the opportunity to be her own boss boosted Branch’s confidence tremendously. When she first started Miss Jessie’s, she felt confident in her abilities as a talented hairstylist. But with the demands that come with running a business, it became evident pretty quickly that Branch wasn’t going to just have the luxury of living her passion. Because she and her sister and partner, Titi, had no formal business training, they both had to become familiar and well-versed in all areas of their business. Once Branch stepped up her game and became an even more valuable partner to her sister, they saw their company grow exponentially. Branch’s confidence grew in all areas of her life after she experienced success in her business.
After my chat with Branch, I took some time to reflect on my journey as an entrepreneur. I am a better woman, mother, sister, daughter and friend than I was when I first took the leap to start my own business. Owning a business will force you to face your fears. You learn how to slay your dragons or run for cover.
Read more: Entrepreneur