You’ve seen the Instagram photos of sandy feet and laptops by the ocean, and the Facebook posts exclaiming (literally, with five exclamation marks, minimum), “I love my job!!!!!” Running your own business is pretty fucking sweet, no question. But let’s keep it real, people. Entrepreneurship is also challenging, humbling, and exhausting, especially when you’re just starting out. 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 – always more than I expected.
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. And the list goes on. This is SO common among new entrepreneurs (and anyone who makes a major career change, for that matter). We throw ourselves headfirst into our work and put everything else on the backburner, including health. Why do we do this to ourselves?! It’s not okay. I’ve lost the weight I gained, and I’m starting to embrace healthier habits, but it’s hard, dammit.
4. I made some bad decisions.
I struggled to find my voice. For a while I was hung up on trying to be something I thought people wanted – something that wasn’t really me – and, frankly, it felt shitty. But here’s the thing about making bad decisions: as Maya Angelou 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 help. A LOT.
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 tweaking.
I sounded like a corporate robot in my first bio. I’ve rewritten that sucker like 10 times now. I’ve also rewritten articles and blog posts, reworked sales pages, and experimented with social media. I’ve revamped programs, scrapped programs, and 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, and it will always be evolving. That can be frustrating sometimes.
7. I was scared shitless most of the time.
Putting your stuff out there before you know if it will work is TERRIFYING. Introducing a new product, trying to get your work published, finding clients, sharing your ideas, promoting your work, asking for help – you’re always so goddamn 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.
Published at Entrepreneur.