So, you’ve gone and done it. Thrown in the day job and readied yourself for the big bad world of teeny tiny business. After all the excitement of leaving parties and the bucket full of well wishes from the people you’re leaving behind in the drudgery of corporate life, you’re ready. Feels pretty good, doesn’t it? Or does it?
You might find, as I did, that the reality of those first few weeks is a little different to what you’d expected. It’s a little quieter, a little emptier and a little less structured than what you’re used to. You wave goodbye to your significant other in the morning on their way to face the daily commute, trying desperately to hide your smug face. Then, come 11 am you find yourself looking forward to greeting the postman for some actual human interaction. And to make matters worse, it’s only just dawned on you that tea rounds are no longer a thing at this particular one woman workplace.
Have you made the right decision here? Are you going to regret leaving your stable, predictable, nicely paid job? Let me answer that for you: hell no.
My new office
The reality of starting a small business
Starting a small business, for so many people, seems like the easy way to sketch out your own path in life. Being your own boss is a seriously appealing option for when you’ve had one too many of those meetings. You know the ones. Where you could have covered the content of the meeting in a two-paragraph email exchange and you walk out knowing you’ll never get that hour of your life back.
In truth, the reality of small business can be very different to the daydream you have in another tedious divisional meeting. And, it’s important to recognise that if you’re going to do this, how much work you’re going to have to do. Not on your business, but on yourself.
For me, working a full-time job and getting a small business off the ground at the same time was serious graft. I’ve never worked harder. I found myself in a constant juggling act, attempting to give everything the time and attention it needed, while trying not to run myself into the ground. I worked out pretty quickly that I’d have to sacrifice my social life if I was serious about making it work. Evenings were no longer for Game of Thrones or having a nosey on Facebook. They were now more about keeping up with orders and planning how I was going to deal with the upcoming months.
Then after all the sleepless nights considering if and when I was going to really commit to this little greeting cards company by leaving my job, I did it. It was the scariest, riskiest decision I’d ever made and up to my last day at work, I questioned whether I was doing the right thing.
Cards. Lots of cards.
It’s all down to me
Now, that all sounds a bit bleak. But working that hard, that consistently for two years taught me how to be a small business owner. It taught me that it’s OK to think about my business the moment I wake up and mentally catalogue my stock levels just before I drift into the land of nod each evening. That it’s OK to not know everything when you first start out and it’s OK to ask people for help. But mostly it taught me that it’s my business. My responsibility and its success or, god forbid, failure is all down to me. And that, my friends, is the reality of being a small business owner.
So, when it came time to actually throw all my energy into the business day-to-day, I was ready. And when you’re ready, you don’t feel the loneliness quite so much. The house doesn’t feel so empty and you adapt to the new structure that you put in place for yourself.