“If You Don’t Build Your Dream, Someone Else Will Hire You To Build Theirs”
Starting your own business can be exciting, rewarding and fulfilling. Taking the chance to go out on your own and ditch the 9-5 hours and being told what to do. However, the glamour of entrepreneurship also comes with steep learning curves, increased responsibility and long days. I’m four years into managing the business that enabled me to leave my 9-5 role and everyday has been filled with a new learning, opportunity for growth or struggle to overcome. I’m going to go through some of the things I wish I knew before starting my business so that you’ll have an improved sense of what to expect if you’re considering stepping out on your own.
- You might work 14+ hours a day
When I started my first business, it was a side hustle that I worked on outside of my full time role. This often meant that I would work 8 hours in one job and then work another 4-5 hours on my business, and then also spend the majority of my weekends working in order to catch up or get ahead for the next week. Even after I started working on my business full time, I would frequently work an average of 10-12 hours a day including weekends, and sometimes still do. Be prepared for your business to consume most of your time and never really be “off” in the beginning, as it can take a significant amount of work and effort to set everything up and gain traction. Planning tasks ahead of time and having strategies, automation and processes in place will help to speed things up for you overtime and reduce the time needed for particular tasks.
- You will often put your business before your relationship, friends or family
My partner and I work in our business together, which contrary to popular belief I think is a huge bonus. We both understand the nature of the business, the work and commitment involved, and can share any struggles together. We understand that often responding to emails will be more important than watching tv together, or that the weekends are no longer two days of leisure for us. However, it also means that there are times where we will put the business before each other and others who we care about. I’ve sacrificed attending many events and outings with people that I care about due to having responsibilities with the business. There have been nights where I would rather be on my laptop brainstorming or finishing admin tasks than relaxing on the couch with my partner. While work life balance is important, and I highly recommend having strict boundaries with how you choose to manage your time – there will be times when you put your business before all else, especially when you are highly passionate about it. It can be helpful to be open with your partner, family or friends about where things are at with your business and the expectations that you each have about spending time together to avoid neglecting these relationships.
- You will have to sacrifice some of the things your friends are doing
Similar to above, as your business grows and takes up more of your time you may find that there are things that need to be sacrificed. These can be anything from a coffee catch up to purchasing a house or having a baby. In the early stages of a business, there is often little space for hiring support and your time and energy may need to stretch across a variety of tasks and skills. Choosing to run a business and leave the safety of a corporate income, can often mean that you won’t be at the same stage as many of the people around you who may be achieving different types of milestones in their lives. However, creating and running a business is a milestone in itself and comes with benefits (such as being your own boss) that perhaps other people around you don’t get to experience. Often the hard work and sacrifices at the beginning are what will allow you to build your business and your wealth and reap the benefits of this later on. Try not to compare yourself to others and instead invest that energy into growing your business and moving forward with milestones in your own time.
- You will feel isolated
Running a business or side hustle can be lonely, especially if you’re a sole trader. The ups and downs of each business are so unique and it can often be hard to explain to others or feel understood. I’m lucky to have my partner to turn to for support, who specifically understands the little intricacies of our business and can offer advice. However, there are still times when I feel alone, overwhelmed and disconnected. This can be even more prominent if you’re working from home and there can be days where you may not leave the house or interact with anyone other than who you’re living with. It can be helpful to make time to go outdoors, such as a walk on your lunch break or heading to a cafe for some interaction. I usually go to a cafe to write blogs for Wellbeing Weekly and it’s a great way to get out of the house and feel connected to others. Joining a community is also helpful if you’re feeling isolated. There are many communities for women in business – including my own Wellbeing Weekly Tribe where I send out wellbeing information and support each week. You can sign up at the bottom of this page and also receive my free Productivity Plan with 7 quick wins to double your productivity in half the time!
- You will want to give up
There are moments in every business where things go wrong, you make a big mistake or you feel out of your depth. These are often times where you can feel like you want to give up. The lows of entrepreneurship can be really low, especially when the responsibility, income and solutions weigh on your shoulders. I had so many times in the early stages where I wanted to give up. My inner critic would take hold and tell me I didn’t have what it takes, I would make a mess of the whole thing and I should just give up while I’m ahead. But if I had have given up every time I felt that way, I would have never learnt the strength, resilience and dedication that comes from building your own business. The key to pushing through the feeling of wanting to give up, is to give yourself rest. Perhaps you’re overworked, overtired, overemotional or overwhelmed and just need to take a step back to re-evaluate and give yourself some down time to process. Often, after some space you will re-energise your motivation muscle and be ready to get straight back in to the hustle. Every time you want to give up – don’t. You never know what could be coming your way tomorrow.
- You will wear many hats
In the early stages of starting a business or side hustle, it is common that you will need to spread yourself across many different roles or ‘hats’. This is always made easier if you have other parties involved in your business, but otherwise can demand a lot from you as you move between marketer, accountant, sales person, production manager, social media manager and more. My partner and I were lucky that we both brought different but complimentary skills to the table and were able to seperate roles in a way that allowed us to build a streamlined workflow. There will be steep learning curves as you navigate roles that you may have never done before, but all of these are made easier when you have passion for building your business and helping it to flourish. If there are tasks that you are not skilled in or don’t have time to complete, then you might like to consider outsourcing some tasks. There are websites that provide virtual assistants, blog writers, SEO support and many other business tasks at an agreed fee, as well as many automation software programs and apps that aim to make processes run smoother or full automate a system so that you can set it and leave it.
- You will want to bypass the small wins
There can be ‘small wins’ in your business every day if you choose to look for them. However, when we have strong missions and business goals, it can be easy to overlook some of the smaller things such as your first order or your first wholesale account or email list subscriber. Celebrating these little wins creates a culture from the outset that acknowledges the growth of your business and allows you to practice gratitude for each building block along the way. I remember when my podcast first reached 100 downloads and I was so happy and grateful. It would have been easy for me to overlook it because my goal is to reach hundreds of thousands of downloads (or millions!), but I chose to make a big deal of the small win. Try to pick out some of the little things and celebrate them. Thank and acknowledge your team, or share your successes with your family or friends. These are the small motivators that will keep you focused on your goals and keep you moving forward.
- You will need to practice patience
When you first start out in your business or side hustle, you will quickly realise the virtue of having patience. Often people can get so excited about their business idea but then after they launch all they hear is crickets. Getting your first sale can sometimes be harder than you expected and it takes persistence, dedication and consistency each day to keep building your brand. You will need to demonstrate patience with employees, contractors, clients and customers as your business grows and finds its flow. It can also be tempting to want everything to happen at once and you may invest time and money into a number of revenue or marketing sources, that may not work out. Practicing mindfulness, breathing activities and having appropriate down time can support you to strengthen your patience.
- You won’t have success over night
Similarly to above, running a business is often a marathon rather than a sprint. Sure, there are businesses that have the perfect combination of product, marketing and timing and hit it big quickly, but even the majority of businesses that you think appeared overnight actually have been around for a few years. It’s rare that a business will be an overnight success and this is why so many businesses fail in the first five years. Try to let go of the expectations that you place on you business to be an instant success and focus on putting in the time and effort to build your brand’s reputation. Be clear on your ideal client or customer, your niche and your offerings and you will begin to target the right people that will be happy to spend money with you and spread the word about you.
- You will need to learn to say no
Saying no is an everyday part of business, but it can be a difficult task for people who haven’t often had to say no in their jobs or are people pleasers. As your business grows, opportunities may come your way that aren’t the right fit for you. Instead of saying yes to everything that comes your way, you’ll need to be clear on what will benefit you and your business and say no if it’s not in alignment. You will also need to know when to say no to yourself and others when it comes to your boundaries. If you’ve agreed that you will finish work by 6pm, but want to go and complete more work, you may find that you need to be saying no to yourself to ensure your own wellbeing. Others may also place demands on your time, money or advice and there may be instances where these conflict with your boundaries or your abilities. Get used to saying no when something doesn’t feel right, it sacrifices your wellbeing or it doesn’t align with the message of your business.
Obviously I can only provide my own point of view based on my individual experience and I acknowledge that not every business will experience the same situations or struggles. However, I hope that these points give you an increased understanding of what you could expect when moving forward with your business or help you to feel like you’re not alone if you’re currently experiencing some of these points in your business. Running your own business is one of the most rewarding, special and humbling thing that you can do, but with every great thing, there are also sacrifices.
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