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Starting My Own Company at 20 and What I’ve Learned

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wisconsin chapter.

Pushing past self-doubt and fueling a passion

Figuring out what career or degree you want to pursue can be challenging as a freshman or sophomore in college. Growing up, I told people that I wanted to become an astronaut or a veterinarian. I had hobbies and interests but I never really had a passion for something that I wanted to pursue as a career. I couldn’t imagine myself going to a 9-5 job or sitting in a cubicle. I decided a year ago that I was going to be the CEO of my own women-led company. It was a goal that I put on all of my manifestation boards, I wrote in my journal and I spoke it into existence whenever I had the chance. When people ask me what my post-grad plans are, I tell them that I want to start my own company.

Last summer, I envisioned an idea for an app I wanted to create. I was able to find investors, had the opportunity to work with a graphic designer and I created my pitch. I kept telling myself that this was my chance to start something. This was my moment. But at the same time, in my gut, I felt that this wasn’t right. This wasn’t the opportunity and goal I wanted to accomplish that I had been working towards for the past year. I told everyone working with me that I wanted to wait until I had an idea that I was excited about, something I was passionate about.

For the past three years, I’ve been interning with marketing companies, running social media accounts and working for a social media influencer. I had never thought that social media could turn into a job, but it did. I worked at CycleBar and Kendra Scott as social media managers in Madison, Wisconsin. I loved what I was doing for the companies and learned so much about social media and marketing. I decided that I wanted to pursue this as a career. I decided to look into creating an LLC for my company, talking to investors, creating a name and logo and making a website. I decided to keep this on the down low from my friends and family until I knew it would actually become something.

I’ve learned that when you have an idea, a passion or opportunity, take the leap and just go for it. I know from personal experience how scary it can be. People might judge you or question you, but just do it. If you know this is something you want to pursue, do it! I’m self-taught with a lot of the skills I’ve gained and it’s so cool to see how much I’ve grown in the past couple of years. Creating your own business can be challenging and extremely stressful. I find myself doubting my capabilities and if it will work out. Maybe it won’t, but at the same time, maybe it will. Maybe this company won’t be successful, but what if it is? I don’t want to say that I didn’t try because I had self-doubt. I would rather say it failed, but I gave it my all. I’m excited to see what the future brings for me and this company.

Carly HoganBruen

Wisconsin '24

Carly HoganBruen is a transfer student and grew up in Washington, DC. She studied abroad in Italy and loves to write travel blogs. She is training to be a cycling instructor and is super passionate about fitness.