Starting Your Own Business 101 (A Class I Failed)
As I sit down to write this post, I realize that there are areas of my business that I still (and to be honest, may never) have together. I don't know how to file my taxes, am unsure if I should be a 'proprietor' or an LLC, and I definitely still don't know why I even get out of bed some mornings. But I take a deep breath and let out a little sigh, "This is it. This is the business."
Starting HB+me was an easy decision, and one that I felt like God just threw me into. It's not the starting that's hard; it's the maintaining. So I got 5 clients. So I kept getting paid by them. So I kept skipping along in my life. Then I lost a client. Then one could no longer afford me, then one just didn't need my services. Those losses hit me hard. I sat on the floor of my room sobbing and wondering how I was going to afford to live in my apartment anymore.
I thought that working from home and running my own business would be all the good things in this world. But, there is no give without a little take. Working in a world with no steady income is terrifying.
For every 'cheers' I've made at a happy hour to celebrate a win, there is an equal number of tears shed on my bathroom floor.
The essence of the digital world has pushed me to never share the dark moments, but only the huge triumphs that will have people leaving comments on my feed saying, "Ugh, I WISH I had your life." Some of those comments are read from my pedestal, some are read from the depths of my couch (and pint of ice cream). But we've been taught to never share the bad, and that is simply not the way this business works. In fact, it's not the way this life works. So I lost three clients - in a month. Ouch. I had just adjusted the final frame that would complete my 'move in process' when I got the call from the third client. Last month, I moved into a two bedroom apartment to have a work space. What? I could afford it now. #TreatYoSelf
The call was short, brief, and cold. I hung up as tears streamed down my face and I started yelling. Yelling at nothing, yelling at them, yelling for my frustration, yelling at an empty apartment. It was a client I never thought I'd lose, as it was someone I had grown close to and had come to enjoy as a partner. This put me at an extremely awkward position, because I didn't know how to act ok when I was so, so caught off guard. Usually, I am good and coming up with eloquent responses, no matter the situation. But this time; nothing. I believe the only thing out of my mouth during that entire four minute conversation was "Ok" and "Yeah it makes sense." I barely choked out the "goodbye" before crumbling in my office chair in a fit of tears. When you work for someone else, it's easy to blame shift. You can do it in any industry. A customer complains about the service at the restaurant you work out? "Oh that's the host's problem." Lose a deal at a big company, "Well production took too long to get them the samples." But work for yourself? All signs point to me, myself, and I. What did I do wrong? Did I do anything? Was I horrible at my job? Did I take too long to respond to an email? Was I hard to work with? Self doubt, self doubt, self doubt.
A few hours later, I was sitting on the couch, spoon deep in Cold Stone's Pumpkin Cheesecake ice cream (seriously, go try it), when my phone dinged. I literally rolled my eyes, "What could this be now?" I didn't touch it for a while, while I built up the courage to take on whatever that email ding meant. Was another client calling it quits? I was already drained for the day and thought about turning off my email notifications for the weekend, until I finally looked. It was an email that came from someone inquiring about me on my website. Wait, that had never happened before. My first email about a potential client!!! Sure enough, a lady wanting my services. I felt the weight of the world ease off my shoulders. "Give and take," I laughed. More tears.