I’ve come full circle guys! September 1st was my 1-year anniversary of being self-employed or my entrepreneurversary (if that’s even a thing).
I lasted an entire year and not only survived but thrived as well. I can’t believe how fast these last 12 months have flown by and that’s why I just want to slow down for a bit and reflect on everything that’s happened.
August 31, 2016, was my last day at my office job. Two of my coworkers walked me to my car after work to see me off and I remember driving away and reflecting on my decision. It was weird because I was excited and scared at the same time.
Some friends I’ve talked to said they were super emotional during their first week of self-employment. I actually cried a little when I wrote my 30-day notice (I have no idea why) but once September hit, I was in full hustle mode and determined to make my business work.
September 2016 was one of my busiest months. I had so much work and I was thankful for it. I probably worked almost every day that month and only took a few days off to attend FinCon.
FinCon was amazing and fed my confidence to reaffirm the fact that I could make this non-traditional business work. Self-employment is interesting because while you go into it with one intention, often times, you never know what you’re going to learn or where you’ll truly end up. Here are 5 unexpected truths I learned about running a business.
1. It’s Not ALL About the Numbers
In order to get to the point where I could quit my day job to become a full-time blogger and freelance writer, I had to focus heavily on the numbers to make sure I was earning enough money and had enough money saved up.
I used to set monthly income goals for myself based on how much I needed to earn to pay off my debt and quit my job. When I didn’t hit those goals, I’d beat myself up a little. When it did hit those goals, I’d set a new goal.
As you can see, focusing on just the numbers was a lose-lose situation. When you’re self-employed, there’s always the opportunity to earn more. At the same time, you can’t always predict your income and could have some low earning months.
I realized that if I focused solely on what I was earning and used that to measure my success, I’d never truly be happy because I’d always be looking forward to the ‘next level’. As a result, I stopped setting income goals.
I committed to keeping my expenses low so I really only need to live on less than $2k per month and I focused on measuring my success by other standards like the impact my work has on people, the relationship I have with my clients, the freedom and flexibility I get from working for myself, my improved mood and relationship with others, etc.
Making more money is awesome. I’m earning more than I ever have and have been able to do amazing things like pay down my student loan debt super fast and put my son in private school this year. But, money isn’t everything and it won’t always make you feel truly successful deep down at the end of the day.
2. You Never Do It Alone
When you hear the words ‘small business’ or ‘solepreneur’ you may get the impression that the person is running a one-man/woman-shop. Most times, that isn’t the case.
Yes, I do create my own schedule and work for and by myself 95% of the time, but I never really feel alone because I’ve been blessed to be a part of several communities with my peers.
I don’t think I would have been able to remain sane this year if I didn’t have the support and help from my other entrepreneur and blogger friends to lean on. I can’t attribute all my success to my actions alone.
When I need advice and support from someone who knows exactly what I deal with on a daily basis, I talk to Kayla, Erin. When I need tax advice and help organizing all my financial crap, Eric always comes to my rescue.
When I need accountability and that extra push to meet my goals to grow my business, I rely on my Mastermind group that includes Jason, Taylor, Tai. I feel like those three are my coworkers because we talk and bounce ideas off each other practically every week and Taylor and I talk almost every day.
There are so many other people who have impacted me and the success of my business and I’m so grateful for all their support and kindness. I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today without them.
3. You Won’t Have More Time Unless You Make Time
Yes, it’s true. For some reason, I thought that when I became self-employed, I was going to have all this spare time and my work-life balance would be 100% better.
I used to work 60+ hours per week when I was juggling my full-time job with freelancing and this blog. To my surprise, becoming self-employed did practically nothing to free up more of my time.
If anything, I found myself working just as much. Like I said, last September was a crazy busy month for me and I worked almost every single day. I’ve had plenty of 7-day work weeks this past year (more than I’d like to admit) but after my first month of self-employment, I deliberately made an effort to slow down and enjoy my new lifestyle while gaining clarity about what I truly wanted to do with my business.
I love my business but truth is, I don’t want to be stuck working every day, all day. By not setting income goals, I’ve been able to give myself permission to create a lighter work schedule so I can spend more time with my family which is what I really want.
As a result, I’m probably not earning as much money as I could be, but it’s a tradeoff. Self-employment is not a walk in the park and I don’t spend every day sleeping in and eating bonbons while binging on Netflix.
I work a basic day schedule and still have to hustle my butt off and remain productive just so I can enjoy some time off.
4. Some Days You Won’t Feel Inspired
Working on my business is my passion and it’s much better than working at a job that doesn’t inspire me. That being said, I’m not super inspired to work every single day.
I write a ton and some days I don’t want to write which makes things quite challenging since if I don’t write, I don’t make money. I’ve tried doing different things like changing my location by working outside or stopping by a coworking space to help me get more inspired and motivated to work some days.
Sometimes it works, other times, I just need a break. Each day is not perfect but at the end of the day I doing this if that even makes sense 🙂
Instead of relying on my business to be this huge source of happiness and inspiration in my life, I’d decided to make sure I have my own identity outside of what I do for a living. This year, I’ve made it a habit to meet more people in person and spend more time doing things with friends.
I started kickboxing and working out more last year as a fun outlet and to get healthier. I lost about 25 pounds but still have 25 more to go! I also started picking up more hobbies that have nothing to do with blogging or my business. For example, I’m volunteering more at my son’s school and getting back into playing the drums which is something I used to do several years ago.
5. It Will Change Your Life Forever
Finally, you might have expected this to be true but you have no idea until you’ve experienced self-employment first hand. It changes you forever. You take HUGE risks, you realize a lot about yourself and unlock hidden strengths you never knew you had.
You fail. You succeed. You put yourself out there and hope for the best. Then, you do it all over again.
In a sense, running a business is basically like having a kid. You nurture it and give it your all. No matter how long it’s been, your work is never done and you have to stick it out during the good times and the bad.
There have been a few times when I thought about getting a traditional job again or even a part-time job. I don’t see myself doing that anytime soon, but if I ever did go back to work one day, I’d have a whole different outlook after experiencing self-employment. It’s like seeing something you can’t unsee. It’s hard to explain.
Now that I’ve made it through year 1, I’m sure I’ll learn more lessons along the way. I’m excited about the future because I know I can make it out to be whatever I want. I hope to grow my business to reach more people by interacting with them one-on-one (I just launched a new one-on-one coaching program for anyone who’s looking for my help in getting their finances back on track). I want to continue writing great content and helping my clients reach their editorial goals.
Writing-wise, I am thinking about expanding my services to offer copywriting and marketing content packages for other businesses. Over the summer, I earned my certification as a Financial Education Instructor am really looking into teaching financial literacy workshops and events.
Most importantly, I’m ready for the wild ride that will be year 2 and every year after that.
I am hoping to get in the running to win an award for all my writing work at this year’s Financial Blogger’s Conference. If you could take a minute to click here and nominate me for the ‘Best Freelancer/Contributor’ category and ‘Best Debt Freedom Blog’ I’d be honored/ecstatic! Thanks for your support 🙂
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