You sit at your desk and you hate your job.
Hate might feel like a strong word, but it certainly isn’t lighting you up – sure, it’s keeping the lights on at home, but beyond that, you’re starting to dread going into work each and every day.
You begin to daydream what it might be like to finally go out on your own.
- No more answering to anyone
- Working in your pajamas
- Ducking out for a workout mid-day
- Setting the direction for your own future
- Doing work you love
It sounds lovely!
And the truth is if you ask any business owner, being able to work on your own terms is the best part of owning your own business.
I personally do love owning my own schedule, working out sometimes at 9 a.m. instead of having to rush out at 6:00 a.m. And I love being able to do work I love (although I’ve never been one to actually work in my pajamas if truth be told).
It can also be incredibly rewarding because you do get to see the results of your work and tend to work more closely with your customers than if you were working at someone else’s business.
You also do get to set your future direction and map out exactly where you’re going.
It’s kind of cool.
And it’s also kind of scary!
Because when it comes down to it, it’s all on you.
Now, I’m not trying to scare you, but recently I attended a retreat where I had the luck to speak about mindset and how we can breakthrough limiting beliefs and propel our businesses forward – and while we all agreed that we LOVED being our own bosses – it can also be kind of daunting, a little lonely and a lot like parenting – you worry a heck of a lot more than you ever thought you would!
The ugly truth about owning your business is that it is hard.
Anyone who tells you otherwise, must have a hobby and not a business – or be on the other side of success and have already forgotten the pains of growing their business.
See I told you, running your own business is a lot like parenting.
The truth about being an entrepreneur or small business owner is that you probably work a heck of a lot more than you thought you might.
I can remember thinking, I’m ONLY going to work 35 hours per week, have solid boundaries and spend time with my family doing all the amazing things I used to dream about while being tied to a 9 to 5 job.
And in truth, I did do that for a while.
But then your business gets the best of you.
You start to make these common entrepreneurial mistakes:
- You take on more clients than you can handle
- You have forgotten how to utter the word “no”
- You hire a VA, or an employee and now you have bigger expenses
- You see the opportunity and you go after it
- You’re trying to make as much as you did when you had a “steady” job
Before you know it – you’re working 80 hours per week and keep telling yourself you’ll finally dig yourself out of the hole you’re in – next week.
And it’s not really a good place to run your business from because you no longer can see the big picture and because you’re human (yep – even those of you who think you’re a superhero) . . . you start to make mistakes.
It kinda is.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Running your own business can be both beautiful and ugly – it’s just that you want to find the right balance of the two to keep you sane.
Here are some of the top things I recommend:
Step One. Add some Structure
In order to find greater balance, you have to treat your business with some of the balance and structure you probably kept in your 9 to 5 job.
One of the biggest problems when you start to work for yourself is that you can really work any time of the day. For me, my work can come with me wherever I go.
All I need is a laptop computer and wi-fi and I’m good to go.
Maybe all you need is a phone, or a computer – but because everything has become so mobile, it can be tempting to work every waking hour of the day (take it from me – that is a quick recipe for burn out).
When you’re running your business, the first think I recommend in order to dig yourself out of ugly is setting the times you’ll work and then setting a hard stop! It can be hard to do when you have deadlines, but for the most part setting your work hours can help tremendously.
Step Two: Know How Long Things Take
One of the ugliest things I do in my business is underestimate just how long it will take me to do something.
I think that something will take me only two hours, when in reality – it takes five.
Only recently have begun to really look at how long different tasks take. There is a great free app called Toggle that you can put on your Chrome Extension that will track your time and help you even divide it into projects or tasks.
The tool has been incredibly helpful in really letting me see how long things take.
By knowing just how long various tasks will take you, you can better determine exactly how many projects or clients you can take at one time – so you don’t fall into the ugly trap of killing yourself to meet deadlines.
This also helps you better manage expectations or let people know that you can’t begin working with them for several weeks (which by the way is ok with most people because they would rather have you delivering material on time than dash their expectations.
Step Three: Stop People Pleasing
This can take many forms, but if you don’t want your business to become as painful as your current 9 to 5 job, you have to stop people pleasing.
One of the top ways, small biz owners people please is by allowing scope creep to happen. What I mean is that you’ll quote a project, you’ll set the deliverables and then the client will ask for one – maybe teensy tiny – extra that wasn’t included.
You say sure, but you don’t charge them for it!
Maybe you decide it’s worth the good will, but the problem is that you continue to allow scope creep to happen across the project or across all of your clients – you’re back to feeling overwhelmed.
And worse yet, you start to resent your clients!
Another people pleasing problem is not setting proper expectations.
Maybe you take a project you’re afraid to lose with really tight deadlines. Or you answer calls on the weekend – even though you promised yourself you wouldn’t work on weekends. You violate your own boundaries – and you tell yourself that you have to in order to keep the business.
The truth is that you’re discounting your own value and putting more value on people pleasing.
But – if you had simply set some reasonable expectations at the beginning of the project – you could protect yourself from people pleasing and you’ll still meet your client’s needs.
And while these suggestions seem simple . . . the truth is that it’s hard to see that these things are necessary until you’re way in over your head.
Until you’re feeling as miserable as you did when you sat behind your desk dreaming about owning your own business. . .
. . . as I said, though, it doesn’t have to be that way.
I personally LOVE owning my own business and can’t ever imagine doing it any other way.
But I will say that the lessons here I share because I know how ugly it can get and want to help you do things differently. If you’re at a point where you feel like the UGLY is taking over, take a break . . . ditch the words “I can’t change anything” and take control of your life.
I promise that if you do, you’ll become just like of those people who’ve forgotten the hard times and will tell you that – like their kids – owning your own business is the BEST thing they’ve ever done!