23 Jan Ep. 2: Top 10 Things You Should Know Before Starting a Business
When I started Worx 11 years ago, I honestly had no idea what I was doing. I knew I could design pretty well and that’s about it. There’s some bliss in ignorance—honestly, if I knew every single detail of what I was about to get myself into, I’m not sure that I would have had the guts to do it.
These may sound like downers, but they’re things that I wish someone had told me, so I knew what to expect on some level. Kind of like when your female friends tell you about the details of post-giving birth, like those big-ass boat pads and your swollen vagina that you have to squirt with a bottle of warm water. No one tells you about that, but when it happens, you’re way less freaked out because your bff gave you a heads up.
So, consider me that friend right now. Each person will have their own journey and circumstances, but if you have a heads up on a few things, it might help you feel a little less weirded out when and if they show up for you.
1. Everything takes longer than you expect
Almost everything you do will take longer than you expect it to, and that’s ok. Things take time to nurture and timing is everything. I wanted to start this podcast two years ago, but the timing just wasn’t right. If it hasn’t happened yet it’s because you’re learning something valuable, the people around you aren’t right, or it’s just not your season yet. Hang tight. If it’s your calling to do this, it will happen.
2. You think about it all the time
Sometimes I miss the days of leaving my job and going home to think about just dinner and not how in the hell the postage meter works. You’ll be inspired by things all around you and get ideas in the strangest places. Think of it as an open tab in your browser always running in the background. With time you learn how to guide these thoughts and shut off completely when the time is needed, but it takes practice.
3. It can put pressure on your relationships
Your time may get divided between things and people you love and what you’re trying to build. Sometimes I feel like a crappy friend because I don’t do normal stuff most of the time. Networking on weeknights and figuring out why the hell Facebook changed how my business page looks and then fixing it is not typically high on the hang-out list. You might disappear for a little while. Building a business takes an intense amount of your time and energy. The people that support you will be there. The ones that don’t, won’t. Both are ok.
4. Your body will be impacted
This whole business thing can take a toll on your body, mind, and soul. I’ve gained weight and lost it. I’ve battled through depression and anxiety. I’ve lost sleep, sometimes for days at a time. My stress is something I’m still trying to balance. You have to take care of yourself to be able to do big things. Sometimes this involves changing your diet, setting boundaries, or doing yoga every day at 3pm. It’ll take a toll on your body, so be mindful of the warning signs and put things in place to set yourself up for success.
5. It causes a lot of emotions
I never expected how many things I would FEEL when starting and running a business. Ask my husband, he could tell you all about it. I can feel on top of the world one second and in the very same sentence, feel worthless and break into tears. I worry and get anxious. I get so ridiculously excited that I can’t sleep. It’s a rollercoaster, to say the least, and it’s learning how to roll with them vs. being consumed by them that’s the key. You’ll feel all sorts of emotions which is why it’s so important to have a group of like-minded people to talk to. It’s normal.
6. You have to be seen
I’m not talking about taking up the inside front cover ad space of a magazine or adding an A at the beginning of your name so that your business is first in directories. I mean physically and verbally… people need to see and hear you. To build a business you have to build relationships. This means meeting people at networking events, conferences, through social media, or at workshops. Email people back when they contact you. Make phone calls. Send video clips of your voice. Whatever the method is, just make sure you’re making a regular appearance in the world.
7. You’re the only one stopping you from anything
There will be a handful of times where you want to quit. You’ll compare yourself to someone else’s journey or see someone that appears to be doing what you’re doing, better. You’ll think you’re not good enough or don’t deserve to do this because of some past bullshit that you haven’t dealt with (I’ve got a library of this crap to tell you about). The truth is, most of this is self-inflicted and you’re the only one stopping you from moving on. Everyone else’s crap is theirs, not yours.
8. Get comfortable being uncomfortable—you take a lot of risks
You’ll find that you’re uncomfortable more than you’re not. Now I know that sounds scary, but it’s the honest truth. You’re not always going to know the answer or how to do everything that needs to be done. You’ll have to make decisions that are risky, not knowing the outcome. Everything will be a first. You’ll have to say yes and figure out how in the hell you’re going to do it. But you know what, this one of the key traits that create successful entrepreneurs. They take the risk and figure out the thing because their dream depends on it.
9. You don’t have to mimic everyone in your industry
Comparison is the thief of joy. If you’re watching every move that your competitors are making on social media or on their website, you’re probably feeling pretty crappy. And not because you’re not great, but because watching everyone else makes you feel less awesome. You don’t have to do what they’re doing to keep up. If you carve out your own niche and do things your way and see success from it, who cares what everyone else is doing?
10. You’re everyone.
When you start a business, you not only become the boss, you become the employee, the accountant, the janitor, the therapist, the bad guy, and the motivator. If you’re transitioning from employee to CEO, take a look around you. You’ll not only be doing your job, but everyone else’s around you while making a lot less money (at least for a while). You’ll have to do things you don’t like doing—like talking on the phone or entering data into QuickBooks. Most of the time, you’ll feel like you have no idea what you’re doing and then you’ll learn. The secret is—everyone is figuring something out.
Now that I’ve told you a bunch of stuff that probably has your heart beating a tad faster than before, I want to leave you with this: no matter what you do in life, there will be stress, concern, worry, or defeat. Why not invest your time into something that you love doing? Even when things get rocky, you’ll know it’s helping you get closer to YOUR goal—not someone else’s.
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