I know that my online presence paints a very pretty picture about entrepreneurship, but the reality is that behind-the-scenes is a lot messier than my on-the-screen presence. So, let me tell you what it’s actually like to own your own business.
It’s really emotional sometimes.
Even though it seems like entrepreneurs are steady and stable in our endeavors and we try ardently to maintain outwardly that we are confident in what we’re doing, the truth is: we fail sometimes. There are times when our clients aren’t happy with what we’re producing for them. The thing the clients don’t know though? It actually hurts our feelings. Most entrepreneurs pour themselves into their work, so rejection cuts us deeply. If I’m being REALLY honest, I’ve cried on more than one occasion when my clients weren’t happy with my work.
It’s a lot of second-guessing.
It seems like every other day that I wonder if I’m even good at photography and whether or not I should go back to college to pursue something else. The trouble with doing something creative is that it isn’s something that can be measured; it’s subjective. Some people love my photography, some people hate it. So, there are times when I look at my work and wonder if I just tell myself that I’m good at photography (ah, the overthinking is endless!). Now, the majority of the time I’m confident in my work, but the fleeting doubtful thoughts are simply inevitable when you’re the only employee in your business, and sometimes I’d wish I’d known that the doubts were simply…normal.
It can be lonely.
This one surprised me. When I became a business owner, I thought I’d have so much more time for other people and spending quality time with the ones I love, but I actually spend less time with other people. Entrepreneurs tend to be self-sufficient workaholics. So, it becomes incredibly easy to get wrapped up in work and forget to make plans with other people. Plus, we are the only ones who can do our work, so our loved ones sometimes don’t get as much face time with us as our computers do (this is something I work hard to avoid). So, loneliness sneaks up on us sometimes. I’ll be sitting in my room all day working and suddenly realize that, like a dog, I feel like I need to be socialized from time-to-time (did I just compare myself to a dog?).
There are lulls.
Businesses ebb and flow. There are times when business is booming, then for whatever reason, times when business is completely slow (sometimes, not even ONE client). This one is a real shocker during the first year of business because if you haven’t saved for the slow period business, then you totally get screwed (and your bank account does too). One of my biggest lessons as an entrepreneur has been saving money for when times are slow in business, so my bills don’t suffer and debt doesn’t build.
You rarely wear real pants.
When you become an entrepreneur in a field similar to mine, you put away the fancy pants you used to wear to your office job, and trade them in for something made out of spandex. I wear leggings virtually every single day and it’s absolutely glorious. I have a few (like literally 2) outfits that I wear to photoshoots so I don’t look like a complete slob, but other than that, I’m riding the yoga-pants pony.
So, if you’re an entrepreneur and you’re reading this: you are not alone in how you feel and hang in there! All of the struggles of entrepreneurship are intimidating sometimes, but the reward of our work is worth it.
I like to look at my business like it’s the party friend we all had in college: the wild, party girl who always brought you out of the house and got you into some crazy (and fun) situations that you’d NEVER be in otherwise, and right when you think you’ve had it with her shenanigans (and the massive hangovers), she calls you up and says “wanna do it again?” and you find yourself grabbing your coat and hopping in the next taxi into town. THAT is entrepreneurship: your passion will take you places you’ve never been, get you into situations you haven’t prepared for, give you headaches sometimes, but exhilarate you enough to wake up and do it all over again.