Sometimes you're better off not knowing what you're getting into.
By Sarah Vermunt, Entrepreneur
There’s no question that running your own business is fulfilling. You’ve seen the glamorous Instagram photos of sandy feet and laptops by the ocean, and the Facebook posts exclaiming (literally exclaiming, with five exclamation marks, minimum), “I love my job!!!!!”
Entrepreneurship is pretty sweet. But let’s keep it real. Running your own business is also challenging, humbling, and at times downright terrifying. What can you expect in your first year of business?
Here’s the naked truth about mine.
1. There was waaaaay more administrative crap than I expected.
In my first year of business I tried to keep things lean. I did a lot of stuff myself that I’ll outsource in future years. For example: I spent a 10-hour day learning how to embed tweetable links into 40 blog posts (now I can do it in my sleep); I rewrote my “About” page 10 effing times; I gathered and posted a bazillion testimonials from clients; I figured out how to run the back-end of an online course. All of it took an insane amount of time.
2. I often ate lunch hunched over my computer.
On most days I ate lunch hunched over my MacBook. Either that or I scarfed something carby in between client sessions. Not exactly glamorous. Or healthy. Sometimes I did it because I was crunched for time, but often it was because I was psyched about publishing something or building a new program—I was in the zone with my work. Still, self care matters. My health was not very high up on my list. Which brings me to my next point…
3. I gained 10 pounds.
I wasn’t exactly petite to begin with, but boy-oh-boy did I pick up some bad habits that sabotaged my health. Eating hunched over my computer. Skipping breakfast. Not moving enough. Not eating dinner until I was hungrier than a rabid wolverine. The list goes on. Sadly, this is SO common among new entrepreneurs. We throw ourselves headfirst into our work and put everything else on the back burner, including health. Why do we do this to ourselves?! It’s not okay. I’ve lost half of the weight I gained, and I’m starting to embrace healthier habits, but it’s hard.
4. I made some bad decisions.
I struggled to establish my personal brand. For a while I was hung up on trying to be something I thought people wanted. That wasn’t really me and, frankly, it felt crappy. But here’s the thing about making bad decisions: as Maya Aneglou said, “when you know better, do better.” Noticing your mistakes helps you do better next time. That’s been true for me, and I’m still learning.
5. I had to ask for a lot of help.
In my first year of business I created my first videos and released my first online course. I knew ZERO about the technology required to do those things, so I asked for help, which is not easy for me. Video is not my zone of expertise. Neither was online course delivery. But admitting how little I knew about those things helped me learn. Totally worth it.
6. I was constantly reworking things.
I sounded like a corporate robot in my first bio. I’ve rewritten that sucker at least five times now. I’ve also rewritten articles and blog posts, reworked sales pages and experimented with social media. I’ve revamped programs, scrapped programs, created new ones. Lots of experimentation. Lots of tweaking. Building a business is a process, not a checkbox to tick. It’s like a living, breathing thing that will always be evolving. The reality of never being done can be frustrating sometimes.
7. I was terrified most of the time.
Putting your stuff out there before you know if it will work is TERRIFYING. Introducing a new product, publishing your work, finding clients, sharing your ideas, promoting your work, asking for help – you’re always so vulnerable. Running your own business, especially in the beginning, is like wearing your heart on your sleeve ON STEROIDS. When Tolkien sent The Lord of the Rings to publishers he said, “I have exposed my heart to be shot at.”
It’s like that for us entrepreneurs, too. But no guts, no glory.
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