I’ve read a lot of articles over the last year “10 Things no one tells you about working alone”, “The dark side of entrepreneurship”. I read one recently and it said “You learn to cherish every human interaction during the day because you have no one…” I skimmed the rest of the article because I immediately found myself irritated. Is entrepreneurship for everyone? No. Can it get lonely? Yes. Is there a way to create structure and interaction? Duh.
This life you choose for yourself is daunting, exciting, terrifying, joyful. Learn to embrace those things because guess what? Whether you can see it or not, it’s making you better. Trust me. After 4 years of working “alone”, I can tell you this: I’m tougher, I’m more confident, I have stronger convictions and I can definitely tell you this: I’m NEVER truly lonely. Here are the Top 5 things that being an Entrepreneur FORCED me to be:
- It FORCED me to be tough. When you go out on your own whether it is from a 9-5 or straight from college, more likely than not you’re not taking a mega roster of clients with you. You have to put yourself out there and that part is TOUGH. I went from shying away from telling my own family what I do to posting my website portfolio on every fb post that I might remotely be suited for. I don’t get upset when people say no to me. They have their reasons, its just business. Does it sting sometimes? Hell yeah it does, but with every interaction comes a lesson and trust me there is a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s you becoming tougher.
- It FORCED me to create structure. There is something to be said about laying on the couch in the middle of a Wednesday watching The Good Wife and ordering take out and knowing that there isn’t anyone out there that can fire you for that. However I wasn’t productive. My clients weren’t suffering because I worked extra hard the next day but I quickly realized I needed structure. So I set a schedule for myself and I found myself a place to work. I don’t care if its the kitchen table, a coffee shop or a co-working space (shout out to Nextspace River North), get off the couch and structure your day. It helps!
- It FORCED me to find a community. You don’t want to start talking to the dog because it’s the only interaction during your day — then don’t! I think the majority of people understand that working for yourself means working alone. But if you don’t want to be alone, create or join a community. I’m a member of at least 7 Facebook groups. 1 of them is truly my go-to, One Woman Shop. The others are filled with awesome men and women who I have had the pleasure to work with and who have been instrumental in moving my business forward. In One Woman Shop I talk to some of these women every week. I know them both personally and professionally. A couple I’ve even met in person and a couple I can’t wait to meet in person!
- It FORCED me to be confident. When you are the sole decision maker for the business, confidence is a MUST. You don’t have the opportunity to run your decisions by the boss, you ARE the boss! (Don’t get me wrong I run my decisions by a handful of people if I’m stuck) but you start to feel over time that you can make those decisions and with that comes the conviction and confidence that you don’t need to ask a million people if you’re making the right choice. That is a powerful skill both professionally and personally.
- It FORCED me to create a work/life balance. When you love something and your passionate about it, you can spend a million hours working on it, perfecting it, changing it, developing it. That can lead to long hours. When I am in crunch time I work multiple 12 hour days in a row. I don’t get to clock out and go home (or I do leave my co-working space but my work follows me). You can’t shut it off but you can go “dark” on it. Having my work surround me constantly forced me to remember that while I am passionate about what I do, you have take care of yourself and spend time with the people you love and doing the things that make you happy.
I think it’s important to be realistic about being an entrepreneur but don’t let these silly articles scare or deter you. Remember that with the freedom comes a life changing shift but you WILL come out of the other end stronger.