Being your own boss is great, but it ain’t easy.
“Entrepreneurs are the only people willing to work 80 hour weeks
so someday they don’t have to work 40 hour weeks.”
I love this quote because it couldn’t ring more true to me and my experience of being an entrepreneur. When starting your own business you think how awesome it will be to be your own boss, call your own shots and not work for “the man” but be “the man” (or in my case, “the woman”). If you’re considering starting your own gig, take note on these 5 insights before you make your decision!
1- There’s no such thing as a day off
Running the show is a 24:7 job. It doesn’t matter if you are sick, your BFF is getting married or just plainly need a break! It doesn’t matter where you are or what you are doing you still have to keep your company running! You must always keep up on emails, make sure your customers are taken care of, keep your employees up to date and on task, post to your social media, track your inventory and sales, make sure orders are going out, take care of lost or stolen packages, update your website etc. It’s a never ending list of “to dos” and you can’t just ignore it (trust me I’ve tried).
Vacation? It’s not truly vacation. It may look all glamorous and perfect as an outsider, but while enjoying sand between your toes and the sun on your skin you are answering customer emails and replying to employee questions. You are still tuned in to everything that is going on with your company, because you are the boss and if your business goes down well, then you are out of a job!
2- The reality of hiring help
You reach this point when starting a business where you need to hire on help if you want to continue to grow but you aren’t bringing home the big bucks to say the least (you are actually still scraping by). You want to be successful and to succeed so you hire on employees because as hard as us entrepreneurs try and wish, you just cannot do it all. It’s painful in so many ways. Giving up responsibilities, making sure they do it YOUR WAY & how you like it, trusting them with your “baby”. Then, you go to sign their paycheck and reality sets in as you realize they bring home more money than you… Yes, this is real. You pay someone else more for doing less than yourself. You see, there is cash flow in your business, but you NEED that cash to continue to grow your business. So, you take the minimum home for necessities. As hard as this sounds now, you do it in order to take home the big bucks in the long run! Us entrepreneurs are in it to win it, which means sacrifices in the beginning.
Fact: I brought home more money sewing and selling swimsuits out of my basement then I did after two years of launching Kortni Jeane when I was in my own warehouse, had several employees and was pumping through way more inventory. I am not complaining though, because I see the light ahead! You get to this tipping point where you have to decide, do I want to keep this as a side hobby in my basement that makes some extra cash or do I want to make this a real company. You have to decide, but then know there is no turning back!
3- There’s no secret formula to a work/life balance
The most common question I get asked is “how do you balance home and work life?” The honest answer is: “I don’t”. In my opinion, there is no secret formula to making time for all the important things in life. However, I think the best thing you can do is to consciously make the time for the important things.
My husband and I are both entrepreneurs, each running our own separate shows. We quickly found ourselves brushing each other off for the sake of our companies. The only time we saw each other in the day was when our heads were hitting our pillows late at night. This became so taxing not only hard physically, but also mentally. We knew we had to make some changes and it wouldn’t be easy. Together, we scheduled ourselves into our schedules. It may sound sad, but it is what we had to do in order to keep our relationship a priority. One of the best things we decided on is that we would always eat dinner together. Sometimes it’s takeout super late at night after an overly exhausting day, sometimes it’s a quick microwave meal in between meetings and sometimes we get lucky and enjoy a nice sit down date night. It isn’t always ideal, but it’s something! In my opinion finding balance is all about making the time for the important things and following through with it.
One more thing: take breaks. Like I mentioned, it is good (and sometimes essential!) to schedule yourself into your schedule. You will often get lost in the busyness of running your business and can get lost in why you started it in the first place. You need alone time to think without all the interruption if emails or distractions of social media. For me it’s usually creative breaks or food breaks, depending on how much time I have set aside. Sometimes it’s just running out and getting myself a big ol’ soda and other times I am sitting at my sewing machine getting lost in the rhythm of the needle.
4- It’s not personal, it’s a business
As an entrepreneur your business is your baby. You stay up late with it and get up early for it, you nurture and defend it, you give it all you’ve got. So, it can be hard to not take things personally when there is an angry customer email or rude remark on your recent post. Your business is you, so naturally it is easy to make a negative comment as a reflection on yourself.
Often, customers and followers forget that there is a real, live human behind the screen which makes it easier for them to be critical, impatient, judge mental and even rude! Early on I had to learn to take a step back or even walk away if there was something that was offensive to “my baby”. I had to remember it wasn’t anything personal and didn’t reflect who I am as a person. I would often have walk away to cool off. Once I had my break, and was over the mean comment, I was able to come back with a clear head and respond professionally, not emotionally. I never want to respond to an email or comment that I would regret later and that may reflect badly on my little company. Sometimes the “cool off” period only took a few minutes until I realized I was being silly, but other times I had to hash it out by talking to my husband (who would kindly listen) about it until I felt satisfied. If my husband wasn’t around I would often write a response that made me feel empowered and then I would delete it and write a real response. Whatever it took at the time is what I did! I have gotten to a point now where I can make that disconnect and not take it to heart. It also helps that I have an awesome customer service team behind me!
5- Networking is your best friend
I’m sure you’ve heard that networking is important but I’ve found that statement especially rings true now that I’m running my own business! It’s up to me to build it, market it, and grow it or I don’t have a job. In the beginning, I was learning on the job even more so than I do now. When mistakes were made they were on me. I didn’t have someone above me to approve my next move or decisions I make, to tell me I was wrong or doing something I would later regret. It was all on me and in reality, it still is!
I found out quickly that it’s important to create a circle of mentors around you. We are all faced with situations we aren’t 100% sure how to tackle, but if you know someone who’s been through it before, you can reach out for advice. These can be influencers, fellow entrepreneurs, large corporation owners and anyone you look up to. My dad has been a business owner his entire life, so he has been one of my most influential mentors. I have continually gone to him for advice and guidance, and even when I’ve made mistakes. I really trust his opinion and advice because I know he has my best interest at heart!