What I've Learned in My First Month as a Full Time Entrepreneur
Wow, I haven’t written a blog post in over four months. That’s somehow simultaneously longer and shorter than I was expecting it to be.
Anyways, for those of you who may not know, in October I left my full time job to run my businesses full time. On the one side, I have my little shop, Brave Girl Club, which has been doing better than my wildest imagining in the past few months since I started it. And I also have my business helping amazing female entrepreneurs create and design beautiful brands.
It’s been an incredible learning and growing experience and every single day I’m grateful that I get to hop out of bed and into my living room in my pajamas to start work. Of course, going from working a regimented 8-5 job to working on your own schedule and projects is a huge transition that definitely doesn’t happen overnight.
I’ve just hit the one month mark in my self employment journey (or maybe a week past) so I wanted to share the things that I’ve learned so far!
Even the biggest introverts have to leave their house sometime.
Listen, I am the BIGGEST homebody. I love nothing more than to stay at home and watch Netflix and eat snacks. So I thought that I would have absolutely no issue staying home like 24/7. Okay that’s a bit of an exaggeration but still. Turns out, even when you’re leaving your house to go to a job you hate every single day, it counts as socializing and human interaction.
I’ve found that I will get insanely stir crazy if I stay home too much. Now I make sure not to stay home all day for more than two days in a row. Whether that means going to work at a coffee shop for a few hours, meeting up with another boss lady for lunch or attending a networking event at my coworking space, I make sure to get out for a while.
Networking is not as scary as you think.
As stated above, I’m incredibly introverted and anxious, like a tiny little chihuahua. The idea of networking made me so itchy and uncomfortable when I thought about it, but I knew that it was an invaluable way to make new connections with potential clients. I joined a local coworking space and networking group for young female entrepreneurs, and it has been incredible. While I still get super nervous when talking to new people, every single person that I’ve met at these events has been so interesting, inspiring and genuinely helpful. I would highly recommend anyone who is an entrepreneur to find a group of like-minded people who you can vent to, bounce ideas off of and generally vibe with. It’s a game changer.
Time management is an invaluable skill.
This sounds like one of those “yeah no duh” moments but seriously I have never before in my life valued time management (and simultaneously failed at it) as I do now. When you work for someone else, there is, obviously, someone there to tell you what you need to accomplish each day. Even in jobs where you have tons of flexibility, you still have other people’s deadlines and schedules to keep you on track.
When you’re working for yourself, it can be way too easy to fall down a rabbit hole of a project and emerge five hours later with nothing to show. I’m not even talking “oh no I turned on the television and accidentally watched Netflix all day instead of worked” (though that’s not unheard of). For me, it’s finding the balance between completing client work and working on stuff for the shop, which is a never ending abyss of projects and possibilities. Figuring out how to stay on track and switch gears when I need to is my number one hurdle.
Boundaries are difficult and important.
So I never really expected to end up as a “workaholic” but I turn into a total Leslie Knope when I’m passionate about something. Like, work around the clock and never take a break and have way too much sugar Leslie Knope. When I told one of my best friends about my plan to pursue running my business full time, she said “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you not working on something, so I think you’ll be fine.” Which at first made me very proud, then made me think long and hard about some things. Like, for the past five years I’ve been used to doing whatever I had to do - classes, work, etc. - during the day, then on my off hours, working on my own brand and business. So once I was working for myself, I had no idea how to stop working when it hit 5:00. And furthermore, I started to feel guilty if I did manage to do it, because there was the added pressure of feeling like every second you’re working or not working is directly tied to whether or not you’re making a living (hello that’s why everyone preaches passive income now!).
Anyways, I was falling into the habit of working all day and also working all night. Which is not fun or healthy for anyone involved! Now I try my very best to work during “work hours” and put the stuff away at night. Or at the very least, take a break for a few hours, have dinner, spend time with my boyfriend, and then if there’s something I really want or need to finish, I can do so.
Don’t operate with a scarcity mindset.
When it became apparent to me that I needed to get out of my day job, like, yesterday, I became frantic trying to find clients and projects. I was constantly posting in Facebook groups offering to take on work for a stupidly low rate just to have something lined up. I was becoming more and more frustrated that no one was biting, or even if they did, they would ghost on me almost immediately. And that was for the slashed rates! I was so terrified that I wouldn’t find clients and would be forced to stay in a job I hated, or find another job that I was equally dispassionate about.
Long story short - I was operating from a place of scarcity. I was worried about where my paychecks would come from once I no longer had one each week. I managed to chill out a bit, refined my offerings and vision for my business and who I wanted to work with, and began putting work out into the world that I was excited about. By the time I actually left my job, I had saved up enough money that I knew I wouldn’t be struggling for at least a few months, even if I somehow didn’t make ANY income. And within 3 days of handing in my notice at work, I had found an incredible client. Which soon turned into several more incredible clients.
Basically, potential clients can smell desperation from a mile away. That tells them they should be worried about your quality, service or product. Whether it’s true or not, it’s how it works. Even if you are worried about where your next check is coming from and are desperate for any kind of project, exude cool confidence in yourself and find clients that really vibe with your brand vision.
Phew! Okay I guess I have forgotten how to write a succinct and readable blog post. Good luck with this one internet! There’s honestly a lot more I could share, but maybe I’ll save it for the podcast I revived and then immediately abandoned again. Oops.