This past Thursday marked 7 years since I turned in my keys at CNN. When I walked away from my 17-year career there I wasn’t sure exactly where my journey would take me…but I needed to find out.

The last 7 years have been everything except boring. I have learned so much about myself and my business. Yes, being an entrepreneur can feel a little like clinging to the side of a mountain with only a toothpick to hang on to but I wouldn’t change a thing.

Here are 5 things I have learned over my last 7 years as an entrepreneur:

1. Don’t jump blind or poor. What I mean by this is create your company with funds in the bank. Save your money for as long as it takes before you take the leap so that you have the best chance for success. Also, while you are saving your money use your free time to build a plan of what you would like to have your company be and how you will create it. This will not only help you when you begin but make the wait and the saving a lot easier. I saved for 5 years before I left my “day job”. That was the difference for me from having a hobby to having a company. See #2.

2. Create a company not a hobby. If you are a serious entrepreneur you will have a business plan, a savings account for the dry days, and a passion for whatever your company does. I don’t care if you make oven hot pads, you can’t look at it as a hobby or “just something you are trying”. You have to go all-in on those hot pads! Be willing to spend money promoting them and setting up the right infrastructure. If you aren’t willing to do that you do not have a company you have a hobby. Don’t leave your day job.

3. Set things up the right way. Make sure you are following the government rules of how to set your company up so you aren’t blindsided by tax implications. You also want to make sure to protect your personal assets legally. So talk to a lawyer and an accountant. Figure out what is best for you. At a minimum have an LLC (Limited Liability Company) and pay your estimated taxes quarterly. I am lucky to have both an accountant and a legal expert in my corner to set me up the right way from day 1.

4. There is no path, you have to create one. When you create your own path that means you are Creating. Your. Own. Path.  There is NO yellow brick road out in front of you to dance along. You are laying those bricks one by one as you go. So be ready to have a few bricks break, a few get laid the wrong direction, and to twist your ankle on a dip here or there. It’s the process! The key is if you trip, you get back up. That’s what separates the businesses that make it past the 5 year mark from those that don’t. They get back up, brush themselves off, and start laying those damn bricks again.

5. You gotta love it. I have been asked many times, “Amanda, you work for yourself why aren’t you out at the beach or anywhere but in front of that computer?” There are a few answers to this question. A) If I’m not working, I’m not getting paid. B) I’m blessed enough to be damn busy and I hustled to get here! C) I’m no good at the beach, I’m the whitest person on earth and spontaneously combust in the sun and most importantly D) because I absolutely love what I do. Of course, I still live a full life. My point is I do work 40-50 hours a week. I don’t mind though. Unlike before when I worked as many hours, I don’t complain. Because what I’m doing I love and I am fulfilled by. I truly hope the same for you!

So, do I cling to the side of an entrepreneur mountain with just a toothpick to hang on to? Sometimes. But it’s my mountain, and it’s my toothpick…and I ain’t goin’ anywhere but up!