Spending years in Corporate America, the biggest lesson learned was “how to play the game”: when to speak, when to contribute, how to avoid ruffling feathers, and how to avoid making waves (unless that is your M.O. to be seen – I preferred to be invisible).
What I didn’t expect was the crash course I would endure when I transitioned to being an entrepreneur.
One of the lessons learned that my 9 to 5 didn’t (and couldn’t) teach me is: The concept of total accountability. When you are working for a corporation, your income is not directly affected by a customer choosing to do business somewhere else. I worked in the financial industry for years and if someone decided to take a total distribution or rollover their 401k, transfer their loan, or close their bank account – your salary did not change. The choice of one customer to do business somewhere else did not affect your bottom line. Owning your own business, every action directly impacts your revenue. If you have a client who decides to cut back hours because business is slow, your monthly income shifts down. The actions of those you serve determine whether or not you will make enough each month, creating a complete loss of financial security and comfort.
Hindsight is 20/20
As Katy Perry said “Wish I knew then what I knew now…wouldn’t dive in, wouldn’t bow down…”
If I could go back to the beginning and give myself advice it would be this: It is OK to set boundaries and to say “no”.
When you are first starting out, every penny counts. You are too afraid to “rock the boat” because you do not know what ramifications that may have on your business. You create standards of practice but you do not follow them because you are determined to appease the clients you FINALLY found.
Over 14 years of being in business, I have learned it is perfectly acceptable to create boundaries and enforce them. Not every client is right for me and I am not right for every client, and that is ok!
- Failure and mistakes will happen because you are human.
- We are freelancers/entrepreneurs/business owners, we are not infallible.
- We fall to the mercy of the SaaS programs used to run our businesses.
- We can do everything to perfection and something may still go wrong.
- Accept the failure/mistake, learn from it, and move on.
I have also learned that the rate you ask for is not because of how long you have been in business or for how long it may take you to complete a task, but for how many YEARS it took you to acquire that skillset. I recently learned this lesson and it has made an insane impact or how I view the rates of my business and those around me.
For those who have learned this the hard way, it is not easier working from home.
You can not walk away from your job so while you may create boundaries for business and end the time you work for your clients, you still have to work and grow your own business.
My day may be from 9 to 4 but I work on my business all the time and it is exhausting.
Most work harder now than they ever did when working in Corporate America because everything counts on you, the business owner, being 100% in all ways imaginable.
It isn’t Easy Being an Entrepreneur
Is being an entrepreneur the ideal dream: yes and no.
For those thinking about, here is my truth: I knew it would mean more flexibility but I didn’t realize it would be so much work and SO much competition. You believe you are creating a business idea or “angle” that is unique to you, only to find out 1000 other people are doing it and for less. You are striving to find a way to stand out above the crowd that is pulling you down with the strength of a riptide. You have to have the strength, endurance, and determination to survive.
In other words, be all in, go big, or go home.
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