As a brand new entrepreneur, I’ve been paying attention to what this new role feels like for me. If you’re on my email list or listen to the podcast, you got the big announcement that I’m officially an entrepreneur now, a full time life coach and podcaster. A couple of weeks ago I prettied myself up and went to IKEA and bought myself a desk for my new corner office (aka the corner of my kitchen), and I’m grateful. Here are my thoughts on the lessons learned from the first 8 weeks of entrepreneurship, along with thoughts on what to do if you’re struggling with parts of being an entrepreneur.
1. Everything feels new
Having done project management for 17 years, the day to day with that career was more or less second nature. I liked it, but the basics didn’t challenge me. Working for myself, almost everything is new. Finding a new rhythm to my days, figuring out how to drive traffic to my Danny Wood episode, finding time to write, all of it’s new. Sometimes this can feel overwhelming, because I’m responsible for figuring out for myself (and I do happen to have a pretty awesome mastermind to reach out to), in the Jump Start HQ.
If you are struggling here: this may sound cliche, but roll with it. This won’t feel new forever, and you will find your way to processes and habits and patterns that feel right.
2. Some of the crap that bugged you before will still bug you
This one didn’t necessarily surprise me, because my friend Kate talked about it her episode. But, I think entrepreneurs do have an idea that once they work for themselves, everything will magically be OK. The stuff that bugs me still does. Yes, I love having longer stretches of time during the day to think and work (I used to be taking care of my biz after my son and husband went to bed.) I used to get bugged when my coworkers interrupted me, if I was deep in thought on a problem or crafting an email. I don’t have those same coworkers, nor am I focusing on the same things, but I do need my quiet time, and discovered that when my husband gets home, I don’t like to be interrupted if I’m mid-thought.
If this comes up for you: Know that starting your own business isn’t going to magically change what bothers you. You will still have likes and dislikes, and working for yourself doesn’t change that you get irritated with Comcast or don’t like standing in line at the post office. Be kind with yourself.
3. There will be magical moments when you realize it’s Sunday night and you are not dreading going to work on Monday
This actually did happen. I know I was dreaming of the day when it would, and that my friend Michelle talks about it happening to her. Yes, even though I’m only two months in, I no longer dread Mondays. I sometimes have a very ambitious list of things to do for Mondays, but it isn’t the pit in the stomach, yuck. I’m also still very encouraged about the future, even though it’s been a slowish start financially, I feel really good about the work I’m doing and the life I’m creating.
4.There will be other magical moments when the promises you made have come true
I had told Zoom (my five year old) that Mommy was going to start working from home and when that happened, I would have more time to be with him. I had also promised my husband that once my coach training was over, we’d transition back to a normal life, where he wasn’t having carry so much of the load (he’d been amazing about picking up some of the shopping and cooking – not a huge stretch since he’s a chef), but we’d been stretched thin in 2015. It was really nice, in January, being able to say to Sean that we needed to revisit how things were divided up. It was also really magical when Zoom said to me one evening, “Mommy, you are home more. I like it.” (cue melting heart.)
5. You’ll ease your way into a schedule
Tying in with #1, the schedule thing was big for me. I know some entrepreneur-hopefuls dream of sleeping until 10am and eating chips in their perfectly manicured backyard while reading for leisure. (OK the chips part might just be me). I didn’t really think that would be the truth. My son wakes up at 7ish every day, so the sleeping in part doesn’t happen. I do go out into the yard, but it’s a work in progress. I’ve taken to mapping out my schedule each week and then doing what I need to do. Day time hours are best for things I need to learn (sending out client notes, fixing my podcast feed, doing a new Facebook ad), and night time is better for the admin tasks that don’t need as much thinking. The other aha moment I’ve had in these first eight weeks is that I used to do so much of my work at night, and now I have that time back. I actually have time to relax and watch TV. (what!?!)
If you’re struggling: Look for the times during the day where you naturally gravitate to do certain things. You might need to re-adjust now that you have day time hours available for work, if you’d been working in the wee hours before.
6. Every day routines will shift
This one has more to do with scheduling, and getting totally excited about my work, and less about a hygiene problem. When I worked out of the house, getting ready to go was part of a routine. Now, I have a modified schedule. I want to get Zoom over to Pre-K on time, and I don’t “need” to be anywhere after that, so my schedule has shifted. Finding that new balance of “normal” tasks and scheduling them in is interesting.
7. You’ll want to reach out to other work-from-home folks and start to make a community
I’m an extrovert. I crave having other people around to chat with and bounce ideas off of, and that has not changed since I started working in the HQ. To keep the cooped up feeling at bay, I’ve joined a mastermind and we chat on Vox all day, AND started doing what I call “Work Dates” where I try and find and meet up with other local work from home ladies, and we go have coffee or lunch. It’s been really fun getting to meet former podcast guest and coach Christy Tennery-Spalding and CLCC co-hort Kate Watson in person.
If loneliness or solitude is an issue: Look on Facebook for some local groups, look for a co-working space, head to your library, or look on Meetup for groups that might be full of entrepreneurs. Get out of your comfort zone.
8. Cash flow can be rather unpredictable
Yikes. I’m no Pat Flynn, so I’m not going to post my income, but March shocked me, as far as inbound money goes. After hitting my number for February (which was admittedly modest), I raised it for March, only to have it fluctuate to below where February was. At two months in, I don’t have any real hard core advice, other than to know that your cash flow will probably jump around. Also, please don’t fall for the “6 figures in 6 months” hype that’s happening on Facebook; building a coaching or podcasting biz is just like other small businesses. You build it one step, one client, one episode at a time.
If money is an issue: First, let go of the overhyped ideas of making boatloads of money quickly, which seem to be prevalent today. Businesses are built slowly. Consider a “bridge job” or a part time job that could supplement your income.
9. Even if you’re not “ready” to offload some of the admin tasks, you should
My mastermind, biz coach, friends, and family, all asked me WHY I was still editing my podcast by myself. I’ll detail more in another post, but, putting the episode together each week was taking me a full 8 hour day, from the edit, recording the intro and outro, and creating the post to go with it. After a couple of very late nights, I finally “gave in” and found an editor. It was simply the best decision I’ve made, and it has saved me nearly an entire day each week. That’s made getting back to blogging possible, and allowed me to have even more daytime hours to get foundational pieces in place.
If you’re struggling with this: Look at what you’re doing day to day for your business, and see if there’s a task that is taking up a better part of a day for you, each week. What would it cost to have that “outsourced?” Can you look for lower cost options on a site like Fiverr? Take an honest look at the amount of time you’re spending, and divide it by what you’d pay someone else to do it.
Are you an entrepreneur that has thoughts on how the first year went for you? Please share below!