As a mom of young kids, I often compare running a business to parenting. Mariposa is my sixth kiddo. So we have Jayde, Isabella, Macario, Tessa, soon-to-be-born Téa, and little Mariposa. It's so funny to see how business mimics nature. The pattern goes a little something like this:
Year 1 - Your business baby is sooooo needy. You can't leave it even for a day. You can't take your eyes off it. It literally sucks the life out of you, but in a good way. LOL. (Mamas can you feel me?)
Year 2 - Your business baby is growing. There's a routine being developed. You can finally use both hands because you don't have to hold your business baby 24/7. Your biz baby might even be able to walk, but likely with a very wobbly, unsteady strut. Your business baby is officially entering toddler years, walking but still pooping itself (metaphorically, of course).
Year 3 - So much progress is taking place DAILY. Your business baby can walk and talk and communicate, but that means more things it can get into. More access means more responsibility. Yikes! Yay! Yikes! Yay! It's a never-ending ebb and flow of navigating uncharted waters, learning and laughing along the way.
You thought toddlers in real life were unpredictable? Toddler businesses are on a whole other level.
In our 3 short years of business, I can say that it's not at all what I originally expected. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't change it for the world... but this whole business ownership stuff can get rough. It's in the toughest moments, that I have to look beyond what's in front of me to muster up the strength to continue. If I can do anything for the next generation of business owners, it's share an honest and candid perspective about the good, the bad, and the ugly. So here's 5 things, nobody tells you about becoming a business owner:
It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint - Make sure your hair is in a pony, grab your good running shoes, and make sure your phone is loaded with a good playlist. This is gonna be a long one. Becoming a business owner and the type of business owner you want to be is a very long and difficult process. Growth is not overnight and it DOES NOT happen unintentionally. You have to carve out time to learn how to lead and to learn from others. It's a day-to-day process of choosing how you will interact with everyone in your organization; from clients to employees to business partners, you will make decisions about how to run your business and those small decision carry great weight. The decisions you made a year ago will not look like next year's decisions. That's a good thing, as long as you are moving forward with a teachable approach to becoming better every. single. day. There are no shortcuts. Pace yourself, friend. Find peace know it CAN'T all happen today and vow to give it your best moment to moment.
You Trade a 9-5 for a 9-However Long It Takes - When you decide to run your own business and you're committed to seeing it through, you will likely be putting in longer hours than a regular 9-5. Many people leave the 9-5 work system pursing a career where they can make the same amount of money (or more) in fewer hours per day. Although it's possible, I'm going to conclude that it's highly unlikely. When you're pushing to get to the next level, it's going to take up time and there's not really a way around that. It will likely mean early mornings and late nights. It will mean saying "yes" to just about anything and everything to get your business off the ground. It may even mean working at a discount for free for a while, if that's what it takes. I've yet to see someone who is in the early stages of their business who isn't super involved time wise. If you meet a unicorn like that, I'd love to pick their brain. Please send them my way!
It Falls on You - Your business is a direct extension of you. When you don't meet a deadline, it reflects on you. When you don't deliver, it's on you. When a client is unhappy, you are the one who needs to solve it. Even if it was an employee's mistake, it's on you to remedy the situation. There's no finger pointing. The issues belong to you. That doesn't mean you don't address when issues internally arise, but it is to say that the business owner takes full ownership in the client's eyes whether they accept it or not. Ouch. It's okay though because there's ways to accept accountability honorably. Say sorry. Admit when you're wrong. Be transparent. If you approach it humbly, there will be respect on the other side. Promise.
When You Scale, Everything Changes - Many people pursue their own business imagining that they will be able to do exactly what they love in the way that they want forever. But what happens when that person reaches capacity? They may decide it's time to hire. This is when everything changes. After hiring, a business owner will HAVE TO shift so much of your focus to running your business instead of performing your craft. It's no longer doing what you love all day every day, now you have to consider things like HR, policies, company culture, legal, accounting, payroll, etc. These are all good and necessary components of scaling, but it means that the business owner's attention will be pulled in many other directions. Be mindful of this and you'll be golden.
It's the Opportunity of a Lifetime - To lead others, to learn, to grow, to guide, to create something that's never been created before. Wow, what a privilege. No good thing comes easy friend. There will be tears and moments of bliss all in the same day. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll wonder how you got through tough seasons. For us, we know that God is leading and guiding our business daily. We pray for our community and that our business would be a beacon of light in this city. We lean on our faith and no decision is made without prayer first. We seek to come last and to serve our community with hearts overflowing with delight over the mere opportunity. Whatever your "why" is, own it and cherish it. Never take for granted the opportunity you have to be the business owner you want to be. Buckle up. It's a wild and beautiful ride.
If you made it this far, kudos to you! My goal is not to sound dismal about being a business owner, but to speak candidly about the challenges in a way that brings everything to the surface. I'm no veteran business owner and will continue to share openly. Of course, we're always here to collab with fellow biz owners who want to share in seasons of weights and wings. We gotcho back!
Sending business owners all the love today!