A year ago today – June 19, 2015 – I logged off of my 9-5 work computer for the last time. It was a very bittersweet moment as I truly loved the people who I worked with. It sounds cliche’-ist but we really were a mini-family. Many of us had worked together for 7-8 years or more and we were truly friends – not just co-workers.
However, it was time for me to move forward. The work that I was doing no longer excited me. I found myself resentful of the time spent there and not focusing on my business. The late nights were taking its toll on me physically, mentally and emotionally as I balanced a 45-50 hour a week full-time job, family life, my time and building my businesses.
After much prayer, I took the plunge and gave my notice. There was an immediate sense of relief and release.
Now, I’ll be honest there were definitely some panic moments during those first few months. It took some time for me to adjust to not being around people – my friends and co-workers – on a regular basis. There were days when the walls seemed to be closing in on me and I craved in-person adult conversation and interaction.
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I found my balance, got a routine and then … had to re-adjust all over again when the daycare my daughter was attending closed down. It made sense to have her stay home with me full-time rather than start a new daycare with summer break for her big brothers less than 3 months away. That was definitely an experience, but it’s one I’m thankful for. Priceless memories and moments that we shared together.
5 Lessons From My First Year As A Full-Time Entrepreneur
Lesson 1: Even if you have a Plan B, C and D – something will come up and you just have to adjust and press forward.
Life happens. You adjust, learn from it and keep pressing forward. When running your own business, you have to be prepared for the unexpected – missed payment deadlines from clients, crashed websites, downed email servers, the list is endless. I’ve learned not to wallow in the “ugh!” moments but to press forward and handle what is in my control.
Lesson 2: Decide if you’re running a business or a hobby. Get your business life in order.
This is a conversation that I have had with many an aspiring entrepreneur over the years. You treat your business differently when you decide this is truly a sustainable source of income that you want to build and not something that you are testing out. It is essential that you have the proper state and county business licenses in place; your federal tax ID; determine what type of business structure you are running; and set up your business account, just to name a few.
Once you have your business structure in place, it is important to plan and implement. How many hours will your work? Will you market your business online? Offline? Who will help you? These are just a few questions to get you started and thinking about how your business will function.
Lesson 3: Don’t be afraid to share what you’re doing. You are your biggest referral source.
How will people know what you’re up to if you don’t tell them? I’ll be honest, at first I was wary about sharing with family and friends because not everyone “gets” it. Many just didn’t understand exactly what I did. They just saw that I’d left a “good” job to sit at the house all day. Would I be able to change everyone’s mind and get them to see what I did? Nope. But those that truly wanted to be supportive, listened and were truly interested. I’ve even had some relatives that have referred their friends to me and that is a MAJOR win in my book.
Lesson 4: Work-life balance and self-care is essential.
Within many of my entrepreneur circles, there’s a recurring need to always be “on” and constant focus on building your business. It is so important to carve out work-life balance when you work from home, because it is so easy for the lines to be blurred and it seem like you’re always working. That’s not good for your body or mind. There’s a reason why there are laws governing breaks and lunches for employees. We need the separation to be better workers. The same is true as a full-time entrepreneur. The stresses are so much more. Self-care is a must! For many new entrepreneurs, they are the only employee in their business. You don’t want your most valued employee to be out on extended sick leave.
Lesson 5: Connect with others on a similar journey.
This is great to do virtually and face-to-face. I’ve gotten so much from my online groups and the local entrepreneur groups that I am a part of. Referrals, traded services, support and invaluable knowledge.