Updated: Oct 30, 2020
This blog post is a monumental one because:
🎉Today I'm celebrating my 50th blog post!!! WOOHOOO!
🎉This also marks one year of me being full-time* in my business.
*I know some people describe being "full-time" in their business as being when they no longer have any side-jobs, but for me going "full-time" with my business meant leaving my 9-5 and devoting full-time hours to my business. I still had side jobs in the morning and at night to help make ends meet financially.
This blog post is a reflection of 9 key takeaways I have from a year of being out on my own with no health insurance, no boss, no structured work hours, and a whole lot of blog post writing.
If you're new to my blog, Welcome!!
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Okay, let's dive into 9 big lessons I've learned this year!
1. I have to believe in myself and be my own cheerleader.
Running my business is just me, myself, and I.
I don’t have co-workers. I don’t have a boss. I don’t have someone cheering me on or anyone to brainstorm my ideas with. Which means, I have to cheer myself on and hash out all my ideas in my journal.
Thankfully I’m married to a therapist who understands mental health and has great business instincts (who knew?!). Having Chris to run big decisions by has been instrumental in my first year of going full-time in my business. So, I'm not 100% alone.
But any relationship expert would tell you that our partners can't be everything for us and it can become stressful when they try to satisfy many roles in a relationship. I try to use Chris sparingly, which means I do a lot of decision making and pep-talking all by myself.
The truth is, being an entrepreneur is a mind game. It’s mental work. I wake up every morning and recommit to my purpose, tap in to why I’m passionate about the work I do, and then I figure out how to mentally overcome any objections or obstacles I encounter throughout the day.
I miss saying “hey” to coworkers. I miss bouncing over to someone else’s office when I need a distraction or a break mid-day. I miss being able to get immediate feedback… “Do you think I handled that well? What would you have done?”
I DO NOT miss having to run all my ideas by a supervisor. I DON'T miss having to get approval for every thought and decision I make. Not. at. all. I'm SO grateful for the independence I have even though it requires a lot of self responsibility and motivation.
Going into this, I didn't realize how much of a support system I had to be for myself.
I have my days where I doubt my path, but overall, I'm here trusting my gut, believing in my vision, and reminding myself of my purpose every day.
2. I have a business and businesses have values.
It's currently 2020. A year of protests, the presidential election, a pandemic, and all the suffering, injustice, and controversy that accompanies this.
With very little preparation or foresight, I’ve had to publicly take a stand on very important issues. I guess I didn’t have to. But that was a decision I had to make in and of itself.
What is my role as a business owner right now?
How, where, and when do I declare that Black Lives Matter?
How do I make sure marginalized populations know that I’m doing my own work without it coming across as performative?
How do I embody the loving and nonjudgmental presence of a counselor while still standing firm in my values and declaring unwavering support for social justice movements?
As the sole face of my business - a white, thin, cisgendered face - what is my role right now?
How can I keep serving my clients, gaining new clients, AND amplify the voices of BIPOC, fat positive activists, and trans people with eating disorders?
SO MANY QUESTIONS swirling through my brain. Many of which don't have a clear answer. I've had to take some leaps. Show up boldly and proudly for what I stand for while listening and learning a lotttttttt along the way.
My eyes are continually being opened to racism at work in the eating disorder, wellness, and intuitive eating communities. I’m reminded of all the ways weight bias exists even in places that are supposed to be safe (like ED treatment centers). These are things that I can't be silent about.
As a white, thin, cisgendered business owner, I have (unearned) privilege and power. I have the power to choose who I give money to, who I hire, and who’s voices I amplify.
I didn’t realize that becoming a business owner would come with such a responsibility and duty to show up publicly in my values, but I’m grateful for this awakening. I don’t think being an advocate or activist should be optional. And until running my own business… it was. Now it’s a core pillar of the work I do.
3. I’m in business mode 24/7.
I preach boundaries. I preach self-care. And I stand by both of those things.
But there is no separating me and my business at this point. We are intimately connected. I wake up with ideas. I fall asleep thinking about my clients. On vacation I daydream about new organizations I want to network with or the book I want to write one day.
This work, this business, is a product of my passion and expertise. Essentially, it’s an extension of me.
👉I don’t get to clock out at 5:00pm or take weekends off.
I work from the couch. From bed. And occasionally at a table. :) Always with cats nearby.
I set boundaries around when I’ll get on social media (I delete the Instagram app from my phone every weekend) and I only check my email at certain points in the day, but that doesn’t mean I can turn off my thoughts and dreams about my baby (my business).
I’m okay with always dreaming. I enjoy being able to turn to Chris in the middle of a movie and say “I just had a great idea for a blog post” and then go run to write it down in my notebook. That’s the nature of being creative and that’s why being an entrepreneur suits my personality!
But I want to worry less. Am I saying the right things? Will I make enough money? When will I get my next client? I want to stop worrying about my business when I "clock out" at the end of the day.
Working from home can create blurry boundaries for work time vs play time vs relax time.
Throughout my next year in business I hope to create some routines and rituals for transitioning out of my work day so that all the worry and stress from my "day at the office" can be dropped and I can be more present in my home life.
4. Growing a business is a marathon, not a sprint.
Okay, okay, I’ve heard this from SO MANY other business owners, but it’s different to actually experience it first-hand.
A small percentage of businesses succeed. For a reason.
👉Growth, heck... even just survival, takes PATIENCE. DETERMINATION. And MONEY.
Mentally, I have to be in this for the long haul. I have to trust that all the blog posts, IG posts, networking calls, public speaking, and clients I’m working with are seeds being planted. I have NO IDEA who is seeing my content and who might have me in mind for future services or might want to tell their network of therapists about me.
There are times when I wonder if I should quit and Chris keeps saying “but what if you’re right on the edge of making it big?”
Great question. And the answer is… there’s no way of knowing. There’s no way of knowing when my business might tip from being in it's "early stages" to "holy moly I'm booked out and can hardly keep up with the growth!"
I have to keep waking up every day putting one foot in front of the other. Keep creating and producing content. Keep meeting new people.
It’s impossible to know what blog post might go viral or which client might turn around and refer me to all their friends. All I can do is wake up, show up, and not give up.
Money is another reason many businesses don't make it. I learned early on that I need to make sure my business expenses are covered well beyond the present moment. I don’t want my business to collapse just because I have inconsistent income.
I’m writing this in October of 2020 and I’ve already allocated and budgeted my business expenses through March of 2021. This means I don’t have financial pressure to “stay afloat” and I never feel like I'm "pushing a sale" from a place of scarcity and financial need (um... also this would be unethical...)
5. It really helps to focus on what’s working and celebrate the wins
The day I started celebrating the "little things" was a GAME CHANGER. And honestly, the "little things" are hardly little. But it’s so easy to have a glitzy and elaborate idea of success like...
"Being a 6 figure business owner."
"Being booked out with clients and having a waitlist."
"Getting interviewed by someone famous."
Sure. those things sound exciting to me. But...
1) that's not in my near future.
2) that totally discredits all the amazing work and success I have right now.
I have a big piece of paper I hang in my offic