We all have an inner #girlboss. But taking the leap to have your own business is a whole 'notha story! We can all agree that working for yourself is the ultimate dream, right? Not having a boss, wearing your PJ's to work, having a glass of wine not quite before 5pm, sleeping in, and working whenever and wherever you want. I mean, what else could a girl ask for?!
Well, not always. Although a lot of that is true, working for yourself comes at a cost. As you know, I am an event planner, and I've listed a few things for you to consider - if you are a business owner like me, you will probably be swaying in the pews with hallelujah hands (you know the emoji I'm talking about).
First, the BAD:
1. Sometimes working in your PJ's makes you tired so you have to get dressed to feel human and motivated - Lounging around in comfy clothes is not always a good thing, so every day I do actually do my hair, put on a bra, and wear makeup (okay, most days I just fill in my eyebrows so my eyes are not bald). Something about having a bra on just makes me feel so put together and I ready to adult. Oh, is that just me? Ok then. But looking presentable immediately makes me feel more productive and ready to take on the world. I once heard of someone who worked at home and actually put on a suit and tie every morning just to go upstairs, and I completely understand his thinking.
2. Your income is never the same from one month to the next - It's a fact. No matter how big your business is, some months are better than others. Around here, we do a few things to combat that. Living well below our means allows me to work for myself, take time to explore other interests, save money, still get to have fun, all the while keeping the stress in check. I believe that keeping expectations low is the key to keeping it real, and being pleasantly surprised!
3. Working from home can be distracting... - Especially if you're in your PJ's. "Oh look, there's the bed". "Oh look, there's a snuggly dog" "Oh look, wine". If you are not careful, it can be easy to get sidetracked and do house chores instead of work. For me, getting dressed and tuning everything out is the only way to not let that happen. Some days I will grab my computer and go work somewhere else if I am feeling especially distractible and my bed is looking extra yummy.
4. The financial risk is always a lot bigger - There's always at least a small amount of money up front, whether it be the cost of putting up a website, or the large cost of keeping product stock or machinery you may need. For me, being in debt to myself was not an option, so I chose the smallest up-front cost possible (just my website), and found ways to make and sell product where it wouldn't come out of my pocket first, such as using drop-shippers. Research your options, there's always a cheaper way to do it - You may go cross-eyed like me browsing the web, but you WILL find something more cost-effective.
5. You are the boss, the employee, the HR, the marketing, and the customer service - You know that marketing idea you had? You have to find a way to implement it and spend the money to do it. You know the super annoying and angry customer? He's your problem. Hiring and firing? Also your responsibility. It does get easier, and the more time you spend doing it, the more natural and efficient you get at making tough decisions. Before you know it you'll be doing it all and doing a #hairflip.
6. Too much flexibility - Procrastinating on a few small tasks can quickly become a mountain of stress, and you don't have anyone to help you since this is all on you. The antidote, is to act as if you have a schedule you have to follow, and create certain habits to make sure you stay on track. For me, that means setting certain days as my "day off", and checking emergency texts, emails, and social media first thing in the morning. This means I wake up with mild anxiety and feeling antsy to get downstairs to check my phone. It also means your husband makes you leave your phone downstairs. It also means you cheat on yourself as right now it's Tuesday and in theory my day off, but here I am writing. You never quite disconnect, and work is your whole life.
7. You will sometimes lose by being too nice - Now this is a big one. Repeat after me: "No, I can't give you a discount." "No I can't do it for free." "I still have to charge you if you cancel." "These are my policies". Are we good? Here's the thing; people think since you do this for a living, what's another freebie for a friend, right? Wrong. Key word, you do this for a LIVING, so you actually need their money TO LIVE. Being clear up front and not bending the rules for friends and family will actually make them take you more seriously, and that is something every business owner struggles with, at least in the first year.
8.You have to set up benefits, taxes, retirement, etc etc. - This is really hard and annoying if I'm being honest. It's very tempting to spend that whole check, but having the discipline to set aside 30% into a taxes account is paramount to not having a panic attack at the end of the year. I entrusted my husband with the task of taking my tax money and putting it in a taxes account for me before I have a chance to see it, and that helps me not even think about it.
Now, the GOOD!
1. You do get to work in your PJ's - This is awesome, not going to lie. Days around here look like going to bed AT 1 or 2 am, and thoroughly sleeping in. This is fun and also terrible, I know. The day's responsibilities get pushed back because we are both night owls, it's nice to hang around on your own time, and PJ parties certainly makes things cozier.
2. You most likely get to work from home and don't have to commute - I work from home full time, and Dave only goes into the office 2-3 times a week. This means we get to be around each other throughout the day (not too much, since his office is away from mine), we eat much healthier since we get to cook everything, and it enables us to be a one-car duo since neither one of us is commuting anywhere, saving us a ton of money. I also love that if he is ever relocated due to his engineering career, I can easily pack up and move my businesses to another state.
3. You can make more money than if you were working for someone else - Every penny your business makes is yours, and you get to decide how you want to spend it. You also get the satisfaction of knowing that you're not slaving away for "the man", and that you won't be making some company tons of money you'll never see. That was the thing that bothered me the most working a corporate job before. With every bad cup of Keurig coffee I drank, I would be thinking "I'm building YOUR empire, not mine!". Now I get to say the opposite, and I totally invest in good coffee.
4. You can take your business in whatever direction you want - You don't have to wait and wish and HOPE that the company implements a new system to improve your miserable filing system - you can just do it yourself today! You can also decide if you want to change directions completely, and no one will stop you. You could wake up tomorrow and decide that your business is now going to incorporate Silkie chickens (omg have you ever seen Silkie chickens? Google it. I'm looking for ways to incorporate them into wedding planning as we speak).
5. You don't have to do things you don't want to do - This is not entirely true, as there are always tedious tasks no one enjoys. But you will never have to go to another boring holiday party or happy hour with people you don't like, or work on projects that put you to sleep. You have the right to not take on certain clients you don't think are a good fit, and you can always make the best decisions for yourself. When you reach a certain level of success you can also hire people to do the busy work for you and focus on the parts you really enjoy. Cough cough.... interns.
6. You can take a vacation whenever you want - You don't have to ask anyone if you can take a long weekend - you just do it! If you want to have a slower month or a slower summer you can too. It's tempting to take on the world to make the most money, but for me, taking only one large event a month is my goal. The month leading up to an event is extremely hectic for a planner, and doing too many actually robs me of the joy I get from it. By doing less, I can do a better job at it, and can still invest my time in other things I love, like time with my husband. Having enough open time also allows me to pursue other passions, like writing, running this lovely blog, and working on that novel I dream about.
7. You can have days off in the middle of week and make up for it by working longer hours or on the weekend if you feel like it - Owning your own business hopefully means you're excited and passionate about what you're doing and want to work on it as soon as possible. I get ideas when I'm laying in bed and want to get up and get back on my computer on a Sunday night - I see that as having purpose in what I do, and I don't mind that my passion doesn't know what day of the week it is.
8. Your attitude and outlook on life is better - Not having someone looking over your shoulder or the pressure of peer competition really does something for your soul. I feel so much happier working for myself than I ever did having a steady and decent salary working for a big corporation. I feel lighter, more positive, healthier, more active, and more creative, knowing it's all me and no one is looking over my shoulder or making me walk on eggshells.
So, the question is girl bosses.... is owning a business for you? It certainly isn't for everybody and takes an extra dose of positivity and a good attitude, but even with all the risks, I wouldn't change it for the world.
What have you learned from owning your own business? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!
This post was first seen on Society Letters