I’m seeing a huge tidal wave of brave women launching their own businesses and blogs across Australia. It’s this whole new movement of wanting to make profit from our passions – and I’m definitely living this movement. It’s been over 18 months since I first started blogging and it’s been one heck of an emotional rollercoaster. Fair to say I’ve learnt a few things along the way. If you’re thinking about joining this movement, consider this list as a helpful warning sign of what’s to come.
1. No one told me that everything you do has to have a very clear purpose.
So, I can’t just do that event because I ‘felt’ like it? I can’t just collaborate with that awesome chick and make honeycomb-scented-heart-shape candles simply because they’re pretty? Well, fark. That sucks.
No one told me how important it is to have a clear intention with every single thing you do in business – because ultimately, it has to serve your pockets as well as your spirit. And there I was, creating random things that really didn’t serve my business (or long term sanity!). It was a powerful lesson in learning how to prioritise and channel my energy effectively.
2. No one told me how hard it is to separate friendship from business colleague/partner/collaborator.
With my extensive, insatiable appetite for ideas, I’m always looking out for collaborators. I think I’ve finally found a way to meet this need in a healthy way now, but since the beginning, I’ve turned to new-found friends for bringing some of my ideas to life.
It’s all well and good – until you just want to hang out with them as friends, not ‘colleagues’. It’s been a real test of recognising my limits and creating healthy boundaries within a relationship.
3. No one told me that you can’t expect people to simply find you unless you become a public persona.
Ha, my naivety at its best. Don’t people just know that I’ve got something that they need? I’ve learnt this the hard way. Sometimes (all the time) you need to bite the fear-bullet and get your name out there.
It means becoming a public persona. Which, behind the scenes, could be more classified as ‘shit-I’ve-got-to-be-perfect-all-the-fucking-time-shit-I-just-swore-in-public-my-reputation-is-ruined-its-over-its-all-over’. You start to second guess EVERYTHING you do – do I wear paint-stained clothes in public? Can I eat a packet of chips without tarnishing my wellness persona? Can I have a mini road rage moment and still be considered the loving, genuine person I really am? Can I say that cup of coffee from [insert once-cool-now-loathed cafe] was a massive disappointment on Facebook?
Helping people means getting your name out there – and that means becoming somewhat of a public figure. You don’t need to be ‘perfect’ all the time. It’s actually refreshing to see the real truth and personal struggles public profiles experience – it’s a reminder that we’re all human. So, get out there. Get in peoples faces. Wear your trackies with pride. And tell everyone not to get a coffee from that place.
4. No one told me how lonely it would be.
There were many nights and long days where it would just be me and my computer. And Hershey, my beloved pup. I never thought I’d start talking to a dog like a human, but that’s exactly what happened.*
Me: “So Hersh, did you know that my website acts like my Hollywood agent?”
Hersh: *head tilt*
Me: “I know, right! It basically means I can consider myself well on my way to Hollywood royalty. I’ll have to get a big Louis Vuitton bag and carry you around, all preppy and shit”
*Letsbehonest…I still talk to her like a human. It’s kinda addictive…
But really, I didn’t have people around me who were in the same boat as me. My friends didn’t understand – they love their jobs and are quite happy in the 9-5 grind. Nor were they even slightly interested in my new found love for a paleo diet. It was freakin’ lonely to begin with.
Luckily, I turned it around by getting out of my shell and going out to meet new people. People that were interested in green smoothies and raw cakes. People who were experiencing the same loneliness I was experiencing as we started our journeys of solopreneurs. It helped reduce my sense of loneliness and really boosted my confidence.
5. No one told me how much if fucks with your health.
Running a business is pretty stressful. But to do it by yourself, with zero business knowledge behind you? May as well book that spot in the cemetery. A big one too.
My diet turned to shit. I snacked continuously. Instead of lovingly making myself wholesome, delicious meals, I chose to work excessive long hours on my business instead. My weight ballooned. Not enough to go back to what it used to be like a few years ago, but enough to make me go ‘I probably shouldn’t have eaten that block of chocolate’.
I started to pick at my skin – a sure sign of feeling a little under duress. And I’m still trying to bounce back from all that picking. My skin is so desperate for loving affection and healing remedies. And it’s all because I chose to prioritise my business over my health. Dumb idea guys, real dumb idea.
6. No one told me how much time is really invested in a business.
It’s a lot. Like, a lot.
7. No one told me how hard it is to sell without feeling like a sleazy douchebag.
I’m an introvert and the whole idea of selling petrifies me. Every time I held a free introductory consult with a prospective client, the dreaded moment of telling them how great it will be for them to part with their hard-earned cash for my excellent services turned me into a quivering bowl of jelly.
I’d hold my groove, but inside, it was more like:
“Shit, did I just sleaze that? Is she going to think I’m just in it for the money? Am I charging too much? Did I just totally fuck that up?”
It was hard. And it still is. But practice makes progress and really, reminding myself that I can actually help people reduces the sense of feeling like a total douchebag.
8. No one told me how much real estate it takes in your brain.
I literally took every single moment, conversation, encounter…well, everything… as ammunition to propel my business.
“Oh, this shop has amazing nautical cushions. I should see if the owner would like to collaborate! My clients would love it!”
“I just found the BEST cafe that sells these unreal raw cakes. I need to blog about it!”
“That event was fun, though if I did it, I’d do this instead of that”
“I need to Instagram this!”
It was crazy. I tied absolutely everything to my business, which basically meant that I wasn’t enjoying and living in the moment. It was like my brain had become hardwired to see everything from a business perspective. Which leads to my next point…
9. No one told me how hard it will be to fully switch off and take the time to have fun.
Time to play became non-existent. And it’s still something I struggle with to this day.
The whole concept of ‘less is more’ seems to be complete fodder in the business world (unless your Tim Ferriss) and I get sucked into that mentality constantly. So instead of enjoying myself a little, I chose to spend more time doing more things for the sake of doing more things in the hope that it’d bring in more things for my business. So many things, so little time.
10. No one told me how much confidence plays in every single aspect of running your own business.
Turning your passion into a profitable business takes some serious balls. Balls that I literally and figuratively didn’t have. I had naivety, that’s what got me started.
But to keep on truckin’, I had to start backing myself a little. This slowly growing faith in myself was the kick start I needed to turn ideas into reality.
Want to get your article featured on a big site? Believe you can. Then do it.
Want to get your first big client? Believe you can. Then do it.
Want to nail that gig speaking to 100+ people? Believe you can. Then do it.
Every decision and fear-busting moment required a little stab of confidence. Fear breeds on inaction and inaction kills business/ideas/dreams/e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. It’s been a long lesson in learning to have my own back – but I know that by continuing to try and just focus on getting shit done, my confidence will grow and I will get better.
Following your passion is the bees knees. It’s just not all rosy and sunshiney days. Don’t let the challenges deter you – just be prepared for them. I’ve made some pretty epic mistakes along the way (and my bank account is no where near as plush as it would be if I stayed working full time) but I wouldn’t change a thing. Not even the number of chocolate blocks sacrificed.