Last year, I made the decision to focus solely on my business as juggling a full-time job and running my business in the evenings and weekends was getting too much. The decision was the scariest I’ve ever made, but it just felt right and what I was meant to do, so the fear was hugely fuelled with excitement.
It’s now been more than 6 months since I went solo and I have to say it’s – mostly – been amazing. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some inspiring clients, run fantastic projects and events and even pay the bills – hurrah!
There are up days and definitely down days (with a lot of wall staring – the answer will be on there surely?), but running a business on my own was never going to be easy, was it?! But one thing I know for sure is that I made the right decision and, fingers crossed, my business is on track to go on to bigger and better things.
I know there are a lot of people out there thinking of making the jump and what I would say is, 100% go for it – use your energy, knowledge and skill to benefit you, not someone else. Also, always think, what’s the worst that can happen? Arguably you don’t get clients / sell your product / make any money and if this does happen (which I’m sure it won’t), there’s the option of getting a job again.
As I say, it’s been a rollercoaster ride and at times and I’ve had to really dig deep to keep on track but the successes are so worth it.
Here are a few things that I’ve learnt and have helped me along the way:
Planning is key
I have always been a bit of a list maker but it has definitely gone up a level! I have a weekly planner on my desk at all times filled with appointments, meetings and top line ‘to dos.’ I then always make a more in-depth list at the end of the day for the next day, listing exactly what I need to do client-by-client. Of course, you can’t plan everything – there is the occasional ad hoc bits to do but for me, having a base structure really helps me focus (especially as I have a huge tendency to wander off in the wonderful world of the internet).
Practicing self care is vital
Working from home, I essentially got two hours back a day that I used to spend commuting. The temptation was to use these two hours to do more work, but I soon realised that I needed to set myself up for the day in the best possible way in order to have the best day for me and my business.
I have got into a routine that every morning, I spend around half an hour doing a yoga session which allows me to just be and focus on my body and mind. When you have a million things to do, it can seem there’s no time for self care but making this time is so important and benefits productivity and mindset enormously.
Have a tribe
Sat with me, myself and I most days can be a lonely business so having a network of like-minded business owners has been essential. I am a member of business group Sister Snog which is filled with amazing women at the top of their game who are hugely encouraging and supportive. Knowing this wonderful tribe is only an email, social media post or phone call away is a huge bonus when I’m having a staring-at-the-wall, not-quite-sure-what-I’m-doing kind of day (which there are many!) and meeting up with them a few times a month is priceless.
Go with your gut
I have made one big error in the last 6 months and that was ignoring my gut in relation to a client. I knew it wasn’t right and I knew that it had painful potential, but I ignored my instinct and instead focussed on the fact that they were a paying client, and I can’t possibly turn that down can I? Well yes, I can and yes, I should have done as – predictably – the process was not an easy one and zapped my energy in a dementor-like fashion.
It taught me a valuable lesson to always trust your instinct as it’s pretty much always right. It takes a lot to say no – especially when you’re new and someone wants to pay you – but trust me, the pain is not worth it. You could be using that time and energy on someone you want to work with.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself
This is a tough one for me as I tend to expect to go from hero to zero very quickly but I have had to learn that growing a business and a brand takes time and to adopt an element of patience getting there. At the beginning I was working 13 hour days, because I thought that’s what I should be doing, which was exhausting and essentially, unproductive. I now try and stick to a 9-5 and work smarter with that time and then I get to actually have a life too (well, time to watch Big Little Lies).
There are still nights where I’m awake at 4am in a cold sweat worrying about making the business work, questioning have I done the right thing and totting up invoices in my head but they’re getting less frequent, thankfully.
I guess the main thing is to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing in the first place and always keep sight of your goals and vision and work towards them every day. And also, don’t be too hard on yourself. If you’ve had a bit of a slow, unproductive day, that’s ok – make up for it tomorrow.
Leisurewear is your friend and talking to yourself is perfectly normal
I have to say, one thing I am bloody loving about not having to go into an office every day is not having to get ready – decide what to wear, put make-up on, brush hair etc. There’s nothing nicer than having a shower (I still wash, I’m not an animal!) and getting into clean leisurewear – one of life’s utter pleasures.
Another thing I have noticed is that I talk to myself a lot. I think I maybe always have, but I’m just noticing more and then I talk to myself to tell myself that I’ve noticed it. Maybe I’m going mad, who knows but it weirdly is helpful and having a little laugh with yourself is perfectly normal, isn’t it?!
I would love to hear from you about your experiences running your own business, or if you’re thinking of doing it. Comment below or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org