5 Lessons I have Learned in Business After 5 Years as an Entrepreneur
I have been in business and working for myself for 5 years now. Which feels wild and scary and also really affirming thinking about everything that I have been through in the last 5 years.
I wanted to share my reflections from the last 5 years in the form of 5 lessons. I hope you enjoy.
There is no course, no offer, no fast way to build a business. I remember some of the first business coaches I worked with were really focused on building out my product suite in an unsustainable way. If I could just get a membership together that would be the thing that made my business magically come together but I barely had a solid offer. And if I could just get like a low tiered offer out there with the membership I would really be set. Over time a lot of this conversation was happening more internally for me and less externally. I didn’t end up working with the coaches who were trying to get me to build a bunch of offers quickly for very long. But I still carried a lot of what they shared. And for me, it looked like hyperfixating on changing my branding because that was going to be the THING that made my business magically come together. Or creating and launching a new offer in an unreasonable timeframe because that was going to be the thing. Or working with that coach because they were going to be the thing. (This last one happens less and less because I’ve been able to discern when i truly need outside guidance.) I have taken and I took what a lot of general entrepreneur advice was sharing and I had internalized it. A lot of this is wrapped up in perfectionism and the fact that running a business is very messy, not linear, and no where close to perfect. Building a business takes time— especially if you are a low energy entrepreneur. I am finally in a place after 5 years where my business fully supports me without any additional outside income. Do people make it in entrepreneurship faster than that? Absolutely. But most businesses take time to build. Like years. This is not an easy overnight process and there is no one thing that will help your business magically come together. My invitation to you is to trust yourself and do what’s best for you.
People aren't going to understand. When you start your own thing there are going to be a LOT of people who aren’t going to understand, people who are well meaning but are asking all the wrong questions, truly finding it mind boggling that you could be doing something like working for yourself. You can spend a lot of time explaining to them why this is ultimately the best choice for you, the reasons you’ve been drawn to the work, the passion behind it, but they likely still aren’t going to get it. It’s okay that they don’t. It’s going to hurt sometimes and you’ll wish things were different but it’s not your job to convince people what you already know— that you’re doing what’s best for yourself. (I’ve also seen the opposite thing happen to entrepreneur friends who go back to 9-5s, people just don’t get it sometimes. That doesn’t mean what you’re doing is wrong.)
You will not offer just 1 thing for the rest of your life. You will likely have a lot of different offers and a lot of different iterations of your business. In the last five years of my business I have offered copywriting services, inner child coaching, aura paintings, social media services, group programs about various topics, various marketing services, I wrote a book, I have a workbook that I sell, I also sometimes paint murals and take on large scale painting projects but I also sell vintage. If you would have told the baby biz version of me that I changed my mind so many times, that I still don't do one single thing I think she would implode. I talked a lot about being a multi-dimensional entrepreneur when I was first starting in entrepreneurship, but I recognize know that I didn't really believe that it was okay to offer more than 1 thing. To have a messy message. I spent a lot of time trying to dial in my message, to make things less messy, and in the end I think I just confused myself more than anything. Your offers are going to grow and change and this is okay! This is good. Sometimes it will be sad closing down an offer, or making a change, pivoting. That's okay too. It doesn't mean you have to keep doing the thing, it just means that it meant something to you.
Friendships in business will come and go and often there is little that it has to do with you and more with where you're at in life. And that's okay. Sometimes when we are running an online business or a mostly online business, it can be easy to forget that people have really full lives outside of the online world. Plus a full life online often times too. And especially if you identify as low energy, relationships can be so difficult to maintain and keep up with. This doesn't make the friendships or relationships any less valuable or special. It just means we're humans and we're all just trying our best. Some of the best people I have met have come from the online space. And some of them I am not in regular contact with anymore but I love and cherish our friendships just the same. Friendships as an entrepreneur can be tricky since they primarily exist in the online space, but they are still so fulfilling and meaningful even if it is only for a season.
This will be the hardest, most rewarding, and bewildering experience you will have. You will love yourself, be unsure about yourself, want to throw everything away, and still choose this most days. Entrepreneurship is one big personal discovery journey from start to finish. Something that I wish I would have known at the beginning though is that you CAN do this while still being kind to yourself. You don't have to tear yourself apart maliciously to make it as an entrepreneur. You can question, reflect, and be your biggest fan. And if not your biggest fan, you don't have to be your own biggest bully. Entrepreneurship is fucking hard and you don't get a medal for making it harder for yourself. Feel the feelings. Make the moves that feel aligned, and most importantly be gentle with yourself. This is wild and scary and often mind boggling. But you're doing it. Good on you.