My oh my, was I naïve. This whole business thing didn’t go quite as I’d planned. Editing for a living is one thing. Being CEO of Me is a-whole-other-level kind of interesting.
Horror stories of small biz owners going broke.
Warnings that you’re not quite ready to take this on.
People frightened on your behalf that you might not make it.
I could launch into a great long rant here about naysayers. Except, I won’t. I refuse to add emphasis to the already-plentiful excuses for setting up solo.
The fact is business is more rewarding, more satisfying, and more fun than I ever expected.
Didn’t see that coming?
Blinded by negative advice?
Consumed with caution?
Here are the seven most important things I wish someone had been brave enough to tell me before I’d started. Because running my own business is really rather rad.
1 It’s much easier than I expected
You heard it here first. Entrepreneurship is easy.
Now, before we get carried away, I don’t mean I sit around by the pool sipping cocktails and millions of dollars just fall into my lap. There are people who claim to do that, but frankly, unless you invent the internet or something, that’s not gonna happen.
What I mean is there’s a lot of scaremongering and scepticism out there. And yet, solo entrepreneurs/micro businesses comprise 95% of Australian businesses, 92% in Europe, and 80% of new jobs in the US.
Conclusion? It’s accessible.
And while the volume of micro businesses is no indication of performance, it’s still a popular choice. So there must be some appeal.
It appealed to me, even though I expected it to be hard and was pretty gosh darn frightened TBH.
Here’s what I’ve found easier than expected: decision-making, branding, content creation for the website, making connections and meeting people, attracting clients, selling. (Yes, I really did say selling.)
Even if I haven’t nailed these things, I’ve been able to educate myself easily enough to make them happen to a level I’m satisfied with for where I am right now.
It’s my policy to let business flow, as I follow a path of ease and lightness.
2 It’s much harder than I expected
On the other hand, there are still aspects I struggle with. Launching baffles me. Marketing will be a never-ending learning curve. Cashflow management, raaaaargh! SEO, don’t get me started.
This is still a good thing.
Never say I’m not up for a challenge!
The truth is we make is a lot harder than it needs to be. Not everything has to be a big freaking drama if we deal with everything calmly and strategically. (I’m working on that last bit!)
I trust that I am where I’m meant to be and I’ll tackle the rest with the help of experts when the time is right. There will always be things to improve. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. (Hands up if you’d be bored if you’d nailed it!)
3 I like people
While I fell out of love with humans during the Corporate Job From Hell period of my life, I’m happy to say I’ve met the greatest, most talented, kindest, most generous and exceedingly hilarious people on the planet since starting my own business. It’s really rather cool. Which brings me to…
4 People like me
When I stopped having to put on a mask every morning to go to the office, when I withdrew my application to auction my soul to the highest (but still not very high) bidder AKA City firm, when I burned the suits and stilettos (joke – as if I’d kill sexy shoes!) and started being my goddamn self, I loved it.
Existing friends and collaborators, the ones who stuck around, loved it too. They read my stuff. They commented on my articles. They sent lovebomb enotes. They worked with me. They referred me. They worked with me some more.
And not long after, new friends and collaborators entering my world just seemed a whole lot more like ‘my kinda people’.
Steering myself towards these gorgeous souls has been the best move I’ve ever made. Go (virtual solopreneur) team!
5 There will always be people ahead of me (and that’s okay)
So even though I thought it was going to be nightmare-hard, part of this ambitious little kitty thought she’d fight a fierce fight and rise to fame overnight.
[Pause while audience picks themselves up off the floor after they die laughing.]
Yep, I thought I was special and was gonna be, like, all kinds of famous and superstar-esque. It didn’t occur to me that there would be a whole bunch of people doing it better than me. Until it did and I freaked out with comparisonitis.
The trick here was to just not look.
I decided early in my journey that there was no such thing as competition. I am unique. I have my message and they can have theirs. This approach protects me from not moving forward. It also means I don’t get paralysed by price wars or overthink whether to put something out in the world in case it’s already been done. (Side note, do your research just in case it has already been done, but when you’re in creation mode, it’s not the time to be scouting other people online.)
6 There will always be people behind me
Apart from being smart and avoiding comparison, know this. People are at different stages because they started at different times and did different things.
When I got my first fangirl comment, I got it. Finally. Yes, I look up to and learn from some incredible mentors and entrepreneurs who blaze the trail ahead of me. But to others, I am that trailblazer. Which is kinda cool.
7 Collaboration is key
By far the biggest and best realisation was that I don’t have to do it on my own. When I rocked up on Day One Of Owning My Own Business, I had underestimated the enormous network of people I had collected. It hadn’t occurred to me that I was already bigger than just me.
The connections I had with other business owners, people in my industry, coaches, service providers, contractors and former colleagues meant that Kris Emery stretched way beyond the boundaries of what little old me was doing.
Your relationships are your biggest asset.
Collaboration is cool.