Be Prepared: A Message To Aspiring Entrepreneurs
In general, I welcome the opportunity to meet new people. But lately I've been dreading having the spotlight turned on me, because of one, four-word question:
"What do you do?"
My own insecurities make me hesitant about answering. From my experience, when people hear that you work from home, and work for yourself, they respond with "Good for you," or "That's great;" and often they make one (or more) of the following assumptions:
- It's easy
- It's a glamorous - (think the incredibly fabulous and curated social media feeds of creatives and entrepreneurs) the flexibility to work from virtually anywhere, unlimited lunch dates, etc.
- You have unlimited free time - you "work," but you don't really work so you have lots of free time.
None of those assumptions are accurate.
Yes, working as a solopreneur is good for me! And most days it's great. I genuinely love what I do. But this journey is never, never easy.
One year ago—I'm literally just shy one day to the date—I marked my 1 year work-anniversary with a post detailing business principles I learned. To mark year 2 I want to share several things you need to be prepared to do if you feel called to walk the path of entrepreneurship. (Danny always says, "Preparation is godly." Indeed!)
Abandon the security of a steady paycheck.
You don't realize how much financial security means to you until you no longer have it.
When you work for yourself there is no set amount coming in every two weeks. The good news is "starving artist" doesn't have to be your reality. However, you will likely be a "tired, hungry, artist" at some points along the way.
The feast/famine cycle is real! One month you may bring in $4,000 easy, the next month you may barely make $400.
Budget. And save. Save. SAVE!
The feast/famine cycle doesn't have to take you by surprise.
Know how much your current lifestyle costs, know the average you bring in during the lean times and work to live below your means.
In times of plenty, be sure to SAVE! Because there will come a time when business will be painfully slow (you may even question your decision to work for yourself, but maybe that's just me). But if you save religiously, then during times of financial famine you will still be able to pay your bills and meet your basic needs.
Savings is also important in the event that any unexpected emergencies arise.
Ignore FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).
FOMO affects some people more than others. If you struggle with FOMO, chances are working for yourself will be extremely difficult because you will miss out (no question about it)!
People who work for themselves won't be able to accept (or afford) every invitation that comes their way.
Some of us don't have the time, others of us don't have the money (budget constraints) and for some of us its both time and money.
You have to learn to ignore FOMO if you're really going to focus on building and establishing your business.
Sacrifice Your Wants.
Working for yourself means fully embracing the concept of delayed gratification.
Technology has only added to the get everything right now mindset of our "microwave society." We don't like to wait. We don't want to resist a smaller immediate reward today for a larger or more enduring reward years down the line.
But that's not how business works. A good business is built over time (most take years not just a few months). You have to be prepared to put in the time, effort, and money and to sacrifice your wants—whether it's updating your wardrobe, furnishing your house, splurging on a nice dinner and drink, or accepting those social invitations.
Sacrifice doesn't feel good, but it is part of the journey.
In the last 2 years I have pulled at least 2 all-nighters. (And I thought I had left all-nighters behind in college1 Silly me.)
There is no 40-hour work week, with paid overtime. Some weeks its 60, 70, and even 80 hours of work, and sometimes there may not be a lot to show for it financially, it's part of the investment.
Some weeks its 10 hours of work, (sometimes less!) but that may be because your body shut down on you to let you know it's fatigued, needs a break, and won't take no for an answer. Less sleep means needing to listen to your body more!
Let Go of Pride.
This is perhaps, the hardest one for me to come to terms with. I had no idea how much of a pride-filled, control freak I was until working for myself revealed that side of me like a reflection in a mirror.
Literally, most everything I have acquired in the last few years has been gifted to me—from the computer I work on, to the car Danny + I now drive, to the two vacations Danny + I were able to take last year. That reality was deeply disturbing to me before I allowed it to be deeply humbling.
I've always wanted to be the giver, the one doing the giving, and to constantly be on the receiving end has been very uncomfortable for me. But I've learned to be filled with gratitude and the comforting knowledge that GOD indeed will provide!
This road is not for the faint of heart.
The perfectly curated glitz and glamour that entrepreneurs and creatives show on their instagram feeds do not tell the entire story. Many people who work for themselves or who own their own businesses have stories that include great personal loss. Some people have lost their houses and/or found themselves in debt. Others have lived out of their cars and begged for change in front of convenience stores.
It's important to remember that it's all a learning opportunity. When you succeed you've learned what to do. When you fail, you've still learned, you just learned what Not to do.
No matter the obstacles that come your way. No matter the hits you take. No matter the things and/or people you may lose along the way, you must persevere if you hope to have joy and find fulfillment on this journey.
Success and failure are events. They don't define you.
Your stuff (and/or lack thereof) and your income do not make you who you are.
Working for yourself is a great risk. The best way to be sure that the risk you're taking is worth it is to place your trust in GOD.
So even if you take the leap, and your wings weren't made for that particular peak, you can know that GOD will catch you even if you fall.
Here's to leaps of faith!