You set off on your journey to build your business bubbling with optimism and boundless energy.
As the weeks, months and years progress and some of that initial enthusiasm starts to wear off you start of feel tired and start to wonder ‘is all of this really worth it?’.
Today I share with you the ‘21 Things Nobody Told You About Building Your Own Business‘.
Be prepared, it’s a monster post. I wanted to capture everything that I wish I had been told when I first started out.
You can save yourself from the pain of scrolling through and running the risk of developing R.S.I. by downloading a copy of the PDF by entering your email below.
You’ll also get access to my Biz Builders Resource Library and I’ll keep you updated when I create new content that I think you will love.
So here we go, the 21 things nobody told you about building your own business.
It will take you longer to ‘succeed’ than you ever imagined
There are only a tiny (and by tiny I mean microscopic) number of people in the world who can truly claim to have had overnight success.
So if you see or a business or a brand seemingly catapult out of nowhere and you are thinking, ‘that’s not fair why did that not happen when I started out’ then rest assured it is unlikely that success was indeed ‘overnight’.
While you may not be aware of it, there will be thousands and hours of work, blood, sweat and tears to make that seemingly overnight success happen.
Patience, consistency and constantly showing up are the name of the game.
Having nobody to tell you what to do is awesome….. except when it’s awful!
Being your own boss gives you the ultimate freedom, you are mistress of your own destiny and you get to work exactly when and how you want. Sounds pretty awesome doesn’t it?!
And it is.
Except at the end of the day the buck ALWAYS stops with you.
So if you’re not making the sales that you need and you’re not making the profits that you want, it’s all down to YOU.
Not so awesome now, is it?
Nobody misses the days of being stuck in traffic every day or squished on a commuter train but working by yourself, especially if you work from home, can get very, very lonely.
And if you don’t have any friends or family members that also run their own business and ‘get’ what you are doing then it can be particularly lonely.
Seeking out a group of likeminded people either online or in the real world that you can turn to is vital, that was precisely the reason that I started my Biz Builders Community.
If you are feeling lonely or could do with meeting some likeminded people then come join us, it’s THE most supportive group of Biz Builders that you will ever find!
You will waste a lot of time
I like to think of myself as a pretty productive person but when you work for yourself it is almost inevitable that you will fall into the trap of wasting time on things that are just not important!
It is human nature. Without the pressure of a boss or a team around you to bounce ideas off then you run the risk of spending WAY too much time on ‘busy work’ rather than the work that will get results for your business.
Agonising over the perfect font for your presentation or how you are going to organise your workspace is not going to move your business forward.
And the only person who is going to keep you in check and make sure you don’t spend too much time on these things is you!
You will have to do work that you really don’t want to do
You’re ‘living the dream’ and building your own business so that means that your days will be filled doing exactly the kind of work that lights you up.
The core of your business should be the work that lights you up but, at least to begin with, you’ll need do the other stuff as well.
You will have heard countless times, outsource, outsource, outsource and that you should outsource before you are ready. And I do wholeheartedly advocate this approach.
However, when you are first starting out and in the early days of your business you won’t be able to outsource everything that you don’t want to do.
You ARE going to have to spend, at least some of your time, raising invoices, scheduling social media posts, taking packages to the post office or whatever the equivalent of these dull, monotonous tasks are in your business.
People will not ‘get’ what you do
Some people are designed to build their own business and some people aren’t. It took me a long time to understand this. When I first made the leap from the safety of employment to start out on my own I genuinely believe that everybody should do the same.
Who wouldn’t want to take control of their life and have the ultimate freedom and flexibility?
Actually lots of people!
Over time I realised that entrepreneurship is not for everybody and that for some people the safety, security and routine of a job are exactly what they need.
And if it’s safety, security and routine that they need then they will never ‘get’ what you do and nothing that you do will change that. So don’t waste your time and your energy trying!
You need to find a mentor
If you want to learn how to drive then you either get a (very patient) family member or hire an instructor to teach you how to drive.
If you want to improve your performance on the tennis court then you hire a tennis coach to help you.
You need to treat your business in the same way.
The fastest way to build your business is to find somebody who has already done what you want to do and then get them to help you do the same.
Your mentor may be somebody that you hire and pay to support you or it could be somebody that you already know. Regardless it needs to be somebody that has the specific skills and experience to support YOUR business.
You may have heard about Tim Ferris’s book The 4 Hour Work Week. The premise being that if you work smart you can outsource the majority of your business and just work 4 hours a week.
Tim talks a lot of sense and he does put forward some great strategies for getting more done in less time.
BUT and this is a big BUT when you are in the early days of your business with limited capital to invest then you are going to have to work WAY more than 4 hours a week to get your business up and running.
If you think that you will be able to make enough of a profit in just 4 hours a week right from the word go then you are being rather naïve.
I would love for you to prove me wrong on this!
As soon as you start a business suddenly everybody around you thinks that they are an expert and want to share their opinions with you.
Unless the person has been there, done that and bought the t-shirt i.e. set up their own business or they are your absolutely perfect ideal customer then IGNORE them.
Great Uncle Arthur might know a lot about a lot of things but chances are that he knows absolutely nothing about building a business like yours.
Which again makes it all the more important that you surround yourself with likeminded people and that you find yourself a mentor who has done exactly what you want to do.
You have to make yourself a priority
When you run your own business the buck stops with you. Often this means that we get so caught up in our business that we burn the candle at both ends. If you’re not going to get this stuff done then who is?
But the problem is that when you are run down and tired and frazzled, eventually your health is going to suffer.
And when your health suffers, your business suffers.
So remember that the buck stops with YOU and therefore looking after YOU is your most important job.
You will need to make sacrifices
Building your own business comes at a price. It will take up your time, your energy and at times consume your every thought and feeling.
Right from the word go it’s important to accept that you will need to make sacrifices.
You might need to make sacrifices in your social life to free up your time to work or you may need to forego holidays or other treats so that you can pour that money into your business.
In whatever form they take for you, sacrifices are inevitable.
It is highly unlikely that the business that you start on day 1 will be the same business that you are running in three years’ time.
Your business will evolve over time.
The market will change, your knowledge of your customers will grow, your understanding of what works and doesn’t work will deepen and you’ll get a better appreciation of the type of business that you actually want to run.
Don’t be scared of evolving. Don’t be embarrassed about evolving. I’ve heard some clients say that making changes to their business feels like they got it wrong in the first place.
I disagree I think that allowing your business to evolve lets you get it even more right – for you and for your customers.
You will have to leave people behind
Remember those people that don’t ‘get’ what you do and the ones that get fed up that you can’t make it along to as many social events anymore?
At some point you’re going to have to make a decision about what you do about them. Are they important enough to you to keep them in your life or is it time to gently part ways?
One way to think about people is by categorising them as either drains or radiators.
When you have spent time with a drain you know about it. You come away feeling deflated and doubtful of whether you are doing the right thing.
On the flipside, radiators are excited for you and your business, they are delighted to see you succeed or at least attempt to succeed with your business.
Avoid the drains and surround yourself with as many radiators as possible. And that might mean that you need to be brave and leave some people behind.
We have a tendency to believe that we are the centre of the universe and that everybody is watching us at all times.
We are so convinced that our every move is being scrutinised by family members, friends and our social media followers that we become paralysed into inaction. Not moving forward for fear of what others might think.
They couldn’t give a monkey’s!
They are too busy getting on with their own life, their own challenges and worrying about what other people think about them!
Forget what everybody else thinks. Even better forget what you think everybody else thinks and get on with what you want to do and build your business.
You have to be your own best cheerleader
I was born and brought up in the UK. We are not raised to blow our own trumpets and shout about our own successes.
For a lot of us this does not come naturally. But guess what, if you don’t then nobody will.
This isn’t like when you were a kid and your mum would bore people to tears with your latest achievement – your new swimming badge or the fact that you could (finally!) tie your own shoelaces.
It’s now down to you to shout and cheer and let the world know your achievements.
If it doesn’t come naturally then just start. It will feel uncomfortable at first. Probably excruciatingly so, but the more you do it the easier you will find it.
Your business is sales and marketing
When you start off with your business you will think that you are setting up as a Virtual Assistant or a Book Writing Coach or a Graphic Designer or a Make Up Artist or whatever it is that your business that is about.
That might be the theme of your business and the product or service that you provide to your customers but ultimately when you build your own business you are in the business of sales and marketing.
Every single small business owner has to market themselves and ultimately has to sell.
Their ability to do so and to develop these skills is what will make or break their business.
So if you say to yourself ‘I don’t like selling’, well tough. If you don’t sell your products or your services you will not make a profit and ultimately you do not have a business.
Get over yourself and get on with it.
Sometimes you will wish you worked for somebody else
Building your own business is liberating and fabulous but as we have already said the buck stops with you at all times.
Sometimes you will wish that you worked for somebody else, that you didn’t need to be the one to make decisions about everything
There will be days when you will want to pack it all in and go and find a ‘real job’.
If it only happens once every so often that’s OK. If you are starting to think on a daily basis ‘maybe I should just get a job’ then sit down and think about it properly. Is building your own business the right thing for you?
If it is then fabulous, crack on. If it’s not that’s OK too. You would never know unless you tried it for yourself.
Your business might not work. In fact, it probably won’t.
Depending on which set of scary statistics that you read, the outlook for new businesses is grim. It is a widely held view that 50% of new businesses will not be around in three years time and 90% of new businesses will close within their first five years.
I think some of these statistics can be taken with a pinch of salt (more of that on another day) but that said, there is a very high chance that your business will not work.
And you and your business will either need to evolve (see point 12) or decide to call it a day.
Equally your business might be a massive success. I know what I would rather believe!
You will want to slap the next person that asks ‘so how’s business’ or even worse ‘are you making any money yet?’
In the early days, the question that strikes fear into the heart of every small business owner is ‘how’s business?’ or even worse, ‘are you making any money yet?’.
It is such an odd question to ask people. Would you say to somebody that has a job ‘how much do you earn?’. Of course you wouldn’t so why would you ask a small business owner the equivalent question?
What makes these questions doubly infuriating is when they come from somebody who has NEVER even attempted to start their own business and therefore has no clue about what is involved and what is to be expected.
You will be intimidated by other people’s success
There is a dreadful virus that is prevalent amongst the business community and it is particularly prevalent in women. That virus is ‘comparisonitis’.
Comparisonitis can be lethal if left untreated.
The symptoms of comparisonitis are constantly comparing yourself to others, not moving forward with your business because you think that you are not good enough/professional enough/clever enough (just generally not being enough) and berating yourself for not going fast enough.
No matter how good you are at blocking out the outside world at some point you are going to suffer from comparisonitis. The trick is knowing when you are doing it, keeping yourself in check and moving on as quickly as possible.
There is NOTHING that will give you the satisfaction of building your own business
The last 20 points do not paint a particularly positive or glamorous picture of building your own business so it does beg the question of why on earth you would want to put yourself through all of that?
With the exception of growing, giving birth to and raising my own children there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that comes close to the satisfaction of building my own business.
To see the impact that I have on the clients that I have had the privilege to work with, to see the payments come into my bank account as a reward for the work that I have created. And to know that I DID THAT. I MADE THAT HAPPEN.
And not only did I make that happen but I did it all on my own terms, in a way that allowed me to be true to myself.
There will be obstacles, there will be challenges and there will be times that you will need to work harder than you ever thought possible.
But in the end, every second is worth it.