The Reality of Being an Entrepreneur
We've gotten so used to seeing a curated "inside look" into stranger's lives. The image out there of being an entrepreneur is one of fun. You can work wherever, whenever you want. You get to create your own life. You're not beholden or accountable to anyone - you're your own boss. It's complete & total bullshit.
It's terrifying, nerve-wracking and exhausting, especially at the start. Yes, to some extent, you get to choose when and where you're working. But the reality is you are almost ALWAYS working. If you take a day off, there is no one stepping in for you. No one to answer the emails, deal with customer service issues, send out packages, plan or strategize. Which also means - you aren't making any money. There are no health benefits. No vacation pay. No sick leave.
If you or someone you love falls ill & you have to take time off (either to recover or take care of them) you are beyond fucked. You have to choose between shutting down your business for that time and risk not being able to pay your bills, scramble to try and get help running it, or push yourself and your loved ones to second priority and work through it.
You are utterly at the mercy of your customers or clients. Paying your bills, your rent, and anything else depends on other people. You have to have deep, terrifying trust that you and your products are good enough (a battle when you struggle with worthiness already). It can be hard to find a balance between not being pushy and marketing what you're offering. It's a fine line between doing what you need to to put yourself out there and turning people off.
People in your life can have a hard time grasping what it is you do. They can still expect you to be as available as you were when you worked a steady 9-5. It can be hard for them to understand that even though you are at home, you are working. Likely harder than you ever have before. And the work doesn't stop on weekends or at the same time everyday. It can also be confusing to them when you take off in the middle of the week - it looks like it's all fun and games, like everything is easy, or that you have all this free time.
You'll have people continuously asking you "how's business going?". Often in a concerned voice. Often from complete and total strangers. Over, and over, and over. You'll have two choices: smile and pretend it's all good no matter what is going on, or admit you're not entirely sure how the fuck you're going to pay your bills next month. You could always tell them it's really none of their business, but that's rude - and you can never be rude to customers. You must always be smiling, polite and over-the-top kind, even when you want to throw something. Especially as a woman. If a man is blunt or no nonsense, he's either "just being a guy", authoritative, or having a bad day. As a woman, you're not having a bad day, you're just a bad person. You will have all your flaws called out and used against you and your business. Because now that you are an entrepreneur, you are seen as your business - they are not separate to the outside world.
You have to set boundaries HARD and stick to them. Boundaries around what's work and what's play. Boundaries around what your priorities are. Your time. Your energy. What you will and won't tolerate from customers or clients in order to make a couple dollars. Boundaries around making sure you actually charge for your time, energy and product (I still struggle with that one). Around recognizing that work, success and money do not define your worth. Separating yourself from your business, your worthiness from external validation, and your soul from society's version of success.
I wouldn't trade this life for the one I was living before. It is much more fulfilling to me, and the stress is worth it. But I wish I had been prepared for the realities of it. It would have been nice to transition into it, rather than jump both feet into the deep end from the get-go. But such is life. You can't exactly prepare for it, nor does it ever go as planned. All you can do is hang on, hope for the best, and trust it will all work out as it's meant to.