A while ago I decided to hang up my career in the world of stability and normality. A world of long hours on another persons clock. For years I had been talking about being my own boss. So one morning I wrote a letter and handed it over. I gave up having someone else making decisions for me, for better or for worse. I gave all of this up instability and insanity, longer hours, but all for me, and having to answer to no one but myself. In other words I run headlong off a cliff and quit my job to run my own business and it was not a surprise that suddenly my life became that much more interesting. Here are 5 things I noticed when I quit my job to start my own business.
1. Advice! Advice everywhere!
Seemingly everyone seems to wants to have their say in how things should go and, though people are mostly supportive, it is hard to distinguish what advice you should be listening to and what advice you should put to one side. I have had at least 4 completely different pieces of advice on how to manage my social media, 3 different bits of advice on how business works here in New Zealand (all different and a few with an ‘I think’ helpfully added on) and lots of advice on where to sell. So what advice do you take?
Start by looking at the person. Do they really know what they are talking about? Are they just trying to be caring, but do not understand the real nature of what you are doing? Are they successful in what they do? Have they been in your position? Do they know anything about the industry you work in? You will know what will feel right in the end, but it will be hard sometimes to separate the wheat from the chaff.
2. People always seem to want to share their opinion on my choice.
This, again, is not always a bad thing. In fact in my case most of the opinions were amazing, I am really lucky to have wonderful and supportive friends and family. The opinions were that I had been brave, that it was a wonderful thing to have done, that they loved what I did and could not wait to help me out. Then were, of course, the few, ‘What are you going to do about money?’ the few, ‘Well how are you going to do that?’ the few, ‘Are you sure you are making the right choice?’. A lot of these people most seem to be of the opinion that you woke up one morning and just decided ‘Hey, I should quit my job and start-up a crafting business.’ and handed in your resignation the next day.
If you have quit your job to run your own business then it is very likely that you have researching it for months, even years, you will have read everything you could find on the subject, you will have looked carefully at your finances and worked out how you are going to support yourself…you know you have done this, believe in yourself at this point. Though that will not stop you looking at yourself in the mirror some mornings, when you are cleaning your teeth, and wondering what the hell you are doing!
3. I suddenly become much busier.
Yes! You finally did it, you handed your notice in and resigned, your 9-5 job is gone, you now have a great view from your office window every morning, your commute is less than 2 minutes and the only demanding coworkers are your cats. Now this is where the hard work really starts.
Hours spent fine tuning your branding, marketing on-line and networking. If you thought you spent a lot of time on social media before hand, if your brand requires online marketing, Facebook and Instagram are suddenly your life. Paperwork, accounting, stock checks, all of that kind of thing are forcing their way into your thoughts at inconvenient times.
If anything at the start of my business I spent a chuck of my time time finding things to make all of this a little easier, organisation apps, accounting apps, time management methods. A lot of time when I was starting up was spent working out how to best save myself time and manage that time. Not only that I am finishing up this Blog post on a Sunday to make sure I can publish it in time for the week ahead.
4. My stress changed.
In my old career I never really felt in charge or in control, when I saw bad decisions being made I could do nothing about them, or at the most I could stick my oar in and hope for a change.
When you run your own business it can be stressful, deadlines need to be met, things can go wrong, you can struggle with money for a long time, but it feels different when all of this is happening for you. When you are the one making the changes, when the outcome affects your bottom line, it all just seems more worth while. I do still worry, but when you are doing something you truly enjoy and when the effort you put in affects you and your business directly the stress just feels more worth while.
5. I have never been happier.
OK, this is not a guarantee, but in most cases if you are the kind of person that is prepared to take that leap and feels that is what they want to do in their gut and can cope with having just about enough money to grab a quick ice-cream as a treat, when you start-up, then you will be happier. Not only am I happy with my decisions, I get to work my work day around my rhythms. It took me a while of trying to set up a routine but, when I let myself just work as I wanted, I eventually found out what maximizes my time. I love to create things first thing in the morning, while my other half is driving to work, parking up the car, and heading off into the office, I am up, sitting in front of Netflix and working on my masterpiece, a cup of coffee helping me kick the thinking part of my brain into gear. Late afternoon is when I like to write, my brain is buzzing and words just pour onto the screen. Allowing my natural rhythm to come into play means I am more efficient and more relaxed. I can take a take a two-hour lunch break and make up for that time in the evenings or during a quiet bit of the weekend. I work the same amount, or maybe even a little more, but it is much more spread out. All in all I just feel better about things.
What are your experiences? What would you tell others who started their own business? What would you have wanted someone to tell you?