What I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Starting a Business
Starting your own business is not an easy step. Venturing out on your own makes for a lot of changes in your professional and personal life. This business becomes your baby; a part of who you are...an extension of you.
I have had a few friends decide to start their own businesses and/or quit their 'day jobs' to go full time into their passion, and I couldn't be happier for them. It's such an exciting time! We've gotten to talking about the ins and outs of running a business, particularly about some of the things that people don't tell you.
I grew up watching my parents run their own businesses. I watched my dad start his construction business from the ground up, and my mom quit her job in Public Relations and go pursue her dream of helping people as a personal trainer and nutritionist and start her own business. It was really in my blood to start my own business from when I was a kid, so when I made the jump, I really didn't think twice. I thought I knew what it took; I saw my parents go through different life stages. And while I was prepared for somethings, there were others I definitely wasn't.
Which leads me into today's blog...Things that I wish someone had told me before starting a business. Whether you're still pursuing your business part-time, or you've jumped into it as full-time, I think (hope!) that these points either help you or resonate with you. Because you're not alone in this! A huge thanks to my friends who inspired me to write this and helped give me ideas of things to talk about.
The first month or so is very lonely. When you're in an office environment, your coworkers can get annoying. A lot of times you'd rather be at home in the quiet, watching TV, working in your comfy clothes. But when you first start working from home EVERY DAY, it's a big adjustment. You get lonely. You get cabin fever. If you have a roommate or significant other, they probably come home and you're like 'OH MY GOD, A HUMAN!.' It takes a while to adjust to that and to your schedule.
But it gets better! Now, I crave my alone time. If I have too many meetings or not enough time in my office, I get cranky. And if I have too much time in the office, I run errands. At first it's weird to do things during those 'normal' office hours, and you almost feel bad for taking a few hours out of your day because you really should be working. But the beauty of running your own business is being able to create your own schedule.
Since I'm a morning person and my most productive time is before lunch, my best days start with a good portion of work in the morning and then running errands during the middle of the day because it's not busy and I can enjoy my time perusing through Target or picking out food at Wegmans.
Most importantly, figure out what works best for you! Go to the local coffee shop to work and be around people. Or find other small business friends to grab lunch or a mid afternoon drink. Don't be afraid to reach out to others and put things on your schedule. It may feel weird at first, but you'll start to develop a rhythm of how you work the best.
You're going to want to give up many, many...many times. I have wanted to quit so many times. Or go back to my 9 to 5 job where I could leave at 5 and be done for the day and not stress or worry. But the good parts completely outweigh the bad. And when you land that first amazing client or project, you're going to feel exactly why you started your own business. And as one of my favorite small business owners says, 'If it was easy, everyone would do it.'
Money is tight. Oh man. This is the hardest part. When I first started, it was a big shocker financially. The adjustment from a regular salary to a 'I'm going to make money I just don't know when' mentality. It's still hard for me today. There were a lot of times I couldn't go out with my friends or travel or buy the outfit that I wanted. There were a lot of times that I felt like I made the wrong decision because, hell, I'm in my 20s! I should be out having fun, not worrying about this stuff. But drinks are fleeting, and you probably don't need that outfit anyways. You're investing your time into yourself and your happiness.
Everyone has an opinion about what you're doing and how you can do it better. Oh my gosh, if I had the two cents for every time someone tried to give me their two cents for how to run my business, I would be sitting pretty. We start small businesses because we want to run things our own way. Sometimes its best to keep your opinions and thoughts to yourself unless we ask for it. And we will, I promise.
You'll cry many...many times. I can't even tell you how many times I've cried. Over being too stressed, not stressed enough, too many clients, not enough clients, my client didn't like my project, or they loved it and I'm crying tears of joy. And I'm not a huge crier either...but as this is your baby, you will naturally take everything to heart.
It's okay to cry! Once I let it out, the next day I always feel so much better. I come back to my desk with a new found gusto and I feel ready to tackle anything. So crying is almost encouraged.
People are either jealous or proud of you. Yes, that's right. There's truly only two types of people out there when you tell them you started a business. They're either jealous that you're following your dreams because maybe they can't or don't have the guts to, or they're genuinely proud of you for following your dreams that they are supportive and excited. I know it sounds weird, but it's true. And you'll know which one they are from the moment you tell them your news. They are either going to be so happy for you and ask questions about how things are going, what you're doing, etc. or they'll try to talk you out of it or start with the negative questions about how you'll support yourself or do you think it's a really good idea. Particularly at these insecure, starting stages of a business, you don't need that negativity! You're already scared enough in your own mind, let alone that you need someone else to point it out. So hang on to those people who are genuinely excited; because those are the ones you really need during this transition in your life.
REMEMBER: it's worth it. As hard as it can be, just keep going. And you will have that moment when you're working on a project that you love or enjoying your cup of coffee from home on Monday morning about to check your emails, where you feel like this is exactly where you need to be and what you need to be doing. And it's the best feeling in the world.