Facebook Ads have a lot to answer for in my opinion. When first thinking about setting up my own business, I saw hundreds of Facebook Ads claiming that I’d be ‘earning more than I ever thought possible!, being able to ‘work from anywhere in the world’ and most importantly, ‘create your ideal lifestyle’. And apparently all these successful female entrepreneurs had done all that whilst being fantastic wives/ girlfriends, working full-time and hitting the gym every day.
It’s fair to say that I was very disappointed when I discovered that it wasn’t the case. In fact, starting up your own business whilst working full-time has numerous challenges of its own – not to mention the toll it takes on your relationships, finances and time. So what really happens…and why persevere?
Time literally disappears…
Prior to setting up my own business, I was a City Girl (one of the corporate clones in power suits, multi-tasking between BlackBerry, iPad and Starbucks Loyalty Card) I was no stranger to long days; often getting into the office at 07:45 and leaving at 21:00. But then I decided to set up my own business – and suddenly the after work drinks? Well they disappeared in favour of getting the bus home so that I could check my emails en route.
Spending my evenings curled up in a blanket watching Spooks reruns? Vanished into thin air so that I could spend an extra four hours reading about coding and graphics creation. And I swear that someone once put out a MISSING sign for sleep – because for the first twelve months, it was pretty non-existent. I certainly wasn’t going on exotic holidays or jet-setting to have luxury intensive sessions with my clients. One of the key things I’d recommend to anyone working full-time and setting up their own business is a time management planner to maximise your productivity in those small windows of opportunity. A time management planner and shares in Red Bull.
Show me the money!
Working in recruitment, this was a regular phrase being bandied around the office. Every morning, my boss would ask me where the next deal was coming from and I’d be hustling all day to get something over the line And then every evening, I’d be going home and asking my computer screen the same question!
I’d considered lots of options when setting up; did I want to go down the crowdfunding route and seeing who would invest in my coaching company? Investors seemed interesting but I didn’t want someone else to have a big stake in my business and as for a loan from the bank? The idea terrified me – and was a tough negotiation for a 24-year old during the recession. Luckily, I managed to find a few opportunities specifically tailored to my business – I tried the Government Small Business Scheme (who very kindly gave me a Technology Growth Voucher) and found that there were a number of schemes out there for female entrepreneurs.
I also realised that to be making money quickly, I needed to be getting my product out there and so found numerous free products like Canva for free graphics, Instapage for landing pages and Buffer to automatically schedule all my social media posts whilst I was doing my day job! And it started to pay off, slowly but surely, I started getting leads, discovery calls and revenue through the door to set up my ‘Business Money Bank!”
Setting up a business takes a lot of work. The perky women that I’d seen on the Facebook Ads, professing to have it all were clearly a lot nicer than I am after four hours sleep and twenty-five ‘no’s’ – or had better acting skills!
Setting up my business was incredibly hard work and whilst some of my family and friends were my staunchest supporters, I couldn’t always make as much time for them as I wanted. Between working a full-time job and trying to launch a business, I barely had two spare hours a week and it meant that there were often frustrations as to why I was missing yet another girls night to sit in and ‘play on Facebook’.
It was tough – and I’m sure there were many times when my friends and family got sick of hearing how ‘it would all be so much better when I get my business off the ground’ but it was true. Relationships can be difficult to maintain, but keeping the end goal of being able to spend time with my friends and family when I wanted and spoil them occasionally, kept me driven and focused. And it’s now a really nice feeling to be able to repay them for all the tears, tantrums and downright daft-ness with a few cocktails or a nice spa day. They were my ‘whys’, my reasons for working 90+ hours per week and the people that kept me going (even when I thought I was going to fail!)
So why is it worth it?
I can’t say it enough times – setting up your own business is hard work! You have to be prepared to work long hours, be your own cheerleader and be aware that you will need to miss out on a few family dinners. But it’s so worth it. Running your own business is the most rewarding thing that you could ever do.
Flexibility, financial freedom and sheer pride do eventually come. And when they do, the feeling of pure contentment is like no other. Setting up my own business has given me the freedom to move closer to my family, spend time walking the dog on the beach and rescued me from my identikit office and quarterly appraisals. It has also made me take ownership of my life – and to spend more time doing the things I love, rather than worrying about booking holiday time.
Entrepreneurship is a vocation. And just like any other vocation, you must feel a calling for the business you start. I now spend my days supporting other women on their journey to ditch their 9-5, monetize their passions and create coaching businesses they love, whilst feeling like I’ve finally found my true niche!
Setting up a business is hard. But I’m writing this from the beach, Chihuahua on my lap, about to take a selfie for my new Facebook Ad..! I’d love to hear about your business so post a comment and let me know what your key frustrations are and how you’re dealing with them!