The first six months: an entrepreneurial manifesto
This might be the most vulnerable post I’ve ever penned and if so, it’s also my bravest. I’m sharing it because I refuse to be a mommy/lifestyle/fashion blogger who boasts captions about “real life” while curating a feed full of filtered photos.
On Oct. 1, 2018 I started my own business.
Self-employment means I can travel to visit my fiancé and bring my work with me. I can spend an afternoon with my grandma without losing vacation hours. I plan my days to include time for morning coffee on my patio (seasonally of course). And I can say with absolute honesty that I have not had one moment where I have questioned my decision.
If I was an “influencer” with grandiose promises of how to become an overnight millionaire, these are the things I would focus on. And while these things are true, I would be lying by omission if I left out the rest.
As my dear friend Sara Jackson said,
“If you really are going to organize your life to disrupt, it won’t be Instagram worthy.”
(Find her honesty here: How I survived a year of disruption - hope for the self-sabotaging entrepreneur)
Show me the money.
Like many employed people, my finances used to operate on a bi-weekly, monthly and sometimes annular cycle. I got paid every two weeks and I budgeted accordingly. In fact, I was the QUEEN of budgeting – ask anyone who has seen my formula-laden spreadsheet. Without an employer, these cycles became irrelevant and that set my plan-obsessive brain into a tailspin for the first few months. I couldn’t plan much farther in advance than the next bill and that terrified me.
In December, for the first time in my life, I experienced what it was like to not know how I was going to pay my rent. (Before anyone freaks out and calls my parents, I’m not homeless.)
I cried at my kitchen table and then I remembered my “Oh Shit List”.
My first week in business, Jason Anthoine gave me this priceless, albeit tongue-in-cheek advice. He told me to make a list of all the things I would do if I ran out of money. Things like: get a part-time job, sell some possessions, cash in savings, etc.
In his Dr. Phil drawl, he explained:
“That way if you don’t have any money comin’ in, you don’t gotta waste time sayin’ ‘oh shit, what am I gonna do?’ because you already know! And now you can get your butt back to work.”
This moment became one of the most freeing moments of my life. When the only thing I had to focus on was paying my rent, it created a focal point that removed the stress of the bigger picture of finances. Money became less emotional and entirely practical. This has been one of the greatest gifts of the last six months. I cried, I got resourceful, and I got back to work, without having to act on (almost) anything from my “Oh Shit List”.
And if I still needed a reminder that I’m in charge of my bank account, I have this Sidney Poitier quote on my fridge:
“Money will command your attention. Allow it a place but deny it a throne.”
An apology: if you were one of the fellow business owners who asked if I had set aside “cushion money” for the first few months/years, I lied to you and I’m sorry. I had a month or two figured out but beyond that I was winging it. I think at this point I’m supposed to say that this was a bad idea or that in hindsight, I should have planned better or saved up more of a cushion before quitting my job, but that would also be a lie. I’d do it all over again the same way if it meant I could have the freedom I do now.
Stress Less is More
Is work still stressful? Yes, but in an entirely different way. I’ll call it “hustle stress” – with the caveat that I don’t like the glorification of the word “hustle” – but that’s the best way I can describe it. It’s an energizing stress that fuels my desire to meet new people, share my passion and reach my business goals. The old stress was unhealthy and fuelled by a poor fit between me and my former role/employer.
Take Me Home
The question I get asked the most is about working from home and let me tell you, it is NOT overrated. To answer more frequently asked questions:
No, I don’t stay in my pyjamas all day.
Yes, I wake up later than I used to.
No, I don’t watch daytime TV.
I used to beat myself up for not being a “morning person” and I’ve realized I am absolutely a morning person when I can structure my mornings in a way that works best for me…
I used to hate Sunday nights because it meant the weekend was over and I’ve realized when you look forward to going to work it doesn’t matter what night it is…
I do miss the potlucks.
Short Story Long…
There are two puzzle pieces to my self-employment goal: flexibility and creativity. I’ve got the flexibility part perfected. I’m working on the creativity part daily. I remind myself that I have a right to this time of uncertainty (self-employment, like immigration, is not for the faint of heart) and that I chose courage over comfort every day.