The Things No-One Likes To Talk About When It Comes To Running Your Own Business
Running your own business is always a subject of interest online, typically how wonderful it is. And it is incredible, having the opportunity to work on my own terms and have no limit on my income is something that I feel grateful for every single day. But, just like any job, there are some serious downsides but as being your own boss and being a #girlboss is so often seen as the dream I thought I’d share some of the issues I face daily that I wish I saw spoken about more online.
Something that I’ve struggled with a lot in the past few years is the loneliness of being my own boss. Having worked in traditional jobs, even though I’m not the most social person in the world being around other people and sharing my day with others is something I certainly took for granted. Being based pretty far out from London I’m not heading to meetings on a daily basis either, anything like that is done over the phone so typically it’s just me and the dogs day to day. And the dogs really do help but unfortunately, the conversations are pretty one-sided and not having anyone to even talk to about the really mundane points of my day can really get to you after a while. There are two things I know to really help though;
Get outside: For me, I walk the dogs every day and then I go to the gym every other day so then I am around other human beings. Even if I’m not speaking a word to them it helps me feel a lot less isolated. When you work from yourself from home it’s so easy to get stuck in the house and not leave for days, I know some people have even done it for weeks and it doesn’t do any of us any good. So making sure you're getting outside amongst other humans does us the world of good and helps break up the day a lot too.
Work out of the house when possible: Something I don’t tend to do anymore because I have Josie & Edie is working from a coffee shop. If this is something that is an option for you then I can’t recommend it enough. Again, you’re probably not going to be striking up a conversation with anyone but just being around other humans can do us so much good. I always found when I was working from a coffee shop I was way more productive than if I’d been at home. Always a good option if you’re feeling particularly uninspired.
HARD WORK ISN’T THE ONLY FACTOR TO ‘SUCCESS’
I don’t know how many inspirational quotes there are floating around the internet about how if you hustle hard enough then you will succeed. And as nice of those quotes might look written in an aesthetically pleasing font they’re far from true. Not only is success personal to each and every one of us but hard work certainly isn’t the only factor that comes into running a business. It is, of course, a huge contributing factor as you can’t expect to reap the rewards for the work you’re not putting in but there are so many other things involved. The reason why we don’t find ourselves reading about the business woman who worked insanely hard and things still didn’t take off is because that story isn’t your typical inspirational tale but I imagine that story has so many things we could learn from. It doesn’t take much to find someone sharing how they’ve risen to the top but it’s so rare to find someone sharing all the gritty details so it’s so important to take everything with a pinch of salt.
THE QUITE TIMES ARE DEAFENING
I’m not sure I know any business owner or freelancer who doesn’t experience somewhat of a dip in their line of work. For me, the end of the summer is always generally quiet as well as after Christmas and it’s taken me a while to see a pattern in those dips and embrace them rather than panic and think I need to find a new job instantly. Because when things are quiet the noise (or lack of) is absolutely deafening and it can be absolutely terrifying. Once you’ve been going a few years and you see the dips and patterns it’s certainly easier on you mentally but the fear of the unknown is still there. There is always the worry of when the next payday is coming but when you don’t even know when the next client is going to come along it’s even scarier. There is so much talk about how busy we are all that it’s easy to forget that there are plenty of people who don’t have overflowing inboxes, but again, these are the things that we don’t like to share for so many reasons. For me, it makes me feel I’m not good enough or I’m not working hard enough which is never the reason why things are quiet in reality.
when you’re not ‘busy’
The word busy is one we all like to use a lot, conversations usually revolve around how busy we all are. And, in reality, we are all busy getting on with our lives but are we just saying we’re SO busy because that’s become the norm? I know I’m guilty of it. And I think of the biggest reasons we don’t like to say we’re not busy is because we don’t want to feel like we’re lazy but isn’t the ultimate goal of any businessman or woman to have the freedom that running your own business gives you? For me, one of my biggest driving factors into my motivation to ‘succeed’ is to be able to have the freedom to go on a bit of a longer walk with the dogs if I fancy it or take the day off if I’m poorly without worrying silly about the consequences of it. Because truthfully, I hate feeling so busy that I can’t focus on one thing without worrying about 10 more. I’m trying really hard not have conversations about being busy because not only do I think they’re pretty boring and monotonous but all it does it feed into the idea that unless we’re so busy that we’re not sleeping well and forgetting to eat lunch we're doing working hard enough and that is not an idea I believe in at all.
the uneasiness of unpaid invoices
The subject of being paid late or not being paid at all is a common one between business owners, which is awful. When you wake up every day and check your account to still see nothing has paid into it can have such a serious effect on you, spending time chasing up work is time that could be spent so much better and ultimately it shouldn’t be something you need to do. Begging and pleading with companies to pay you for the work that you’ve done can affect your mental health a lot, it can make you feel worthless and really doubt what you’re doing. 90 and 60 day payment periods are still very much the norm I’ve found with big businesses and then add in a late payment it can often be nearly 4 months before you receive any income. And who in reality can afford to do that? That is even if you are paid because even when you’re signing a contract that doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to be paid, a harsh reality to running your own business that is a hard one to talk about. I’ve not had to deal with an unpaid invoice in a long time thankfully but here are the steps I take to deal with late ones;
Ask for a fee up front, a lot of businesses are willing to do this and I like to go 30% upfront and then the rest of the 70% when the work is done.
E-mail every two days, you might feel like you’re being an annoyance but you’ve done the work and should be paid for your services.
If e-mails go answered then a phone call will more often do the trick as they can’t be ignored.
Legal letters only cost a few pounds and again, cannot be ignored easily.