Dear Working Entrepreneur: A Love Letter to You
I’m sure by now you have heard, or read, about the passing of iconic designer, and businesswoman, Kate Spade. As Fempreneurs, women and fellow human beings, we are saddened and keeping her family in our thoughts and prayers during this rough, and most likely confusing, time.
While the internet has remained abuzz, we have also been thinking more about our lives, not just our entrepreneurial and work efforts. There is often so much chatter around working for yourself, and while it can provide some amazing liberties, it comes at a price like everything else. And while many women chase the dream of full time entrepreneurship, the truth is, most women who embark on the road to business ownership already have a J-O-B. So here’s a toast to the ladies who are holding down major career responsibilities and also making it happen for their dreams.
Dear Working Entrepreneur,
It’s okay if you yawn while reading this. You probably barely got about 4 hours of sleep, guzzled some Starbucks, worked a full shift (and maybe some OT), wrangled some kids, worked on your fitness, tried to engage your significant other and even catch up on your favorite show before putting in a few hours on your baby…your business.
It’s always a full day’s work for you and you’re passionate about the vision that’s in your heart, but you also know that it’s going to take time to scale up and be able to live solely off of your business income. You take inventory of your life, bills, responsibilities and desires and remain committed to the one thing that you feel is standing in your way of Full Time Entrepreneurship and full blown “happiness”…your job. You know that the “steady” income is keeping things running smoothly for the most part, but you can’t help but think that if you had more freedom, you could produce even better with your business. So you go to work each day cursing its existence and openly wishing for the day you can kiss it goodbye.
This is the place where you are standing, or circling, each day and more than anything else you need to realize, you are not alone. Women everywhere are reading books, attending seminars, watching videos and desperately trying to figure out the work-life-business balance, and you know what? There is no such thing. Years ago, a respected mentor shared that balance is what’s sought after, but what really exists is harmony. Think about it. You can’t always strike an equal balance between all parts of your life, but you can create a flow that works for you and your family. Some days your family may be on their own for dinner, some days your customers will have to respect your decision to unplug and some days your job will have to grant vacation and time off. But these things do not happen all at once; they cycle, they ebb and flow. Some give way for others to shine in any particular moment.
Whether your journey leads you to full time entrepreneurship, or a harmonious work/business relationship, here are a few things to consider and suggestions to adopt:
Sleep is a necessity, not a luxury. The fact that you are technically working 2 jobs, and likely have an otherwise full life, requires that you get rest. Now, back to harmony. You may not always get a rousing 8-12 hours of sleep, but every night should not be capped off with just a nap. There may be some days that are dedicated to catching up on sleep, if you’ve burned the midnight oil for days on end. Not only does sleep help to refresh you, it helps with brain function so that your work, whether in your career or business, doesn’t become utter trash. It’s not enough to just complete tasks, you have to do them well.
Manage your time wisely. This may be where you find yourself having the greatest anguish. You are constantly wondering where to devote your time and how you will find enough time to do all that you need to do. The truth is: you will find a way. Sometimes it will require intense prioritization and tools (project management systems, calendars, task lists), and other times it will be quick and dirty. When it doubt, apply the Triple D approach: do it, dump it or delegate it. Because we all have the same amount of hours in the day, you can’t get more time, but you can make more of your time. Another secret? Plot out “power pockets” of time. You’re not going to have unlimited hours of free, or interrupted time, but you can knock out phone calls or data entry or plotting out your week in these 20-30 minute increments throughout your day/week.
Your job is a blessing, not your master. At a certain point in time you will have to determine which is more important to you. Now this doesn’t automatically mean that if you choose your business you’ll quit your job the next day, it’s simply a shift in your brain that will cause you to think, act and move differently. Whereas you may allow more of your job to control your life, and decisions, currently, once you’ve determined that your business is NOT a hobby and that it is priority for you, your whole swag shifts. It’s like you walk into work each day looking for a reason not to return (LOL), but seriously, you don’t stress over everything said or done because you know that your job isn’t the end of the road for you. You know there’s more, and that realization is empowering. When you don’t feel well, you call off. When your child has a field trip you want to attend, you do it. Having a business can allow you to fill in financial gaps, so that you don’t have so many life and relationship gaps.
Have a plan AND work your plan. Planning is amazing. It helps to increase your confidence and strengthens the probability of execution. It takes into account things that could go wrong and helps to produce the best result possible. But planning is not at all helpful if action is not put to it. You see it all the time, everyone has a great idea, but very few walk it out. Don’t just spend your time making plans and charting courses; take time to turn those plans into actionable steps and put one foot in front of the other, repeatedly.
Crew up with others. This is not a road to travel alone. It can get dark, rough and be full of winding turns sometimes, however, having someone (fellow entrepreneur, coach), or even a small group/mastermind, to navigate with is always helpful. It is close to impossible for someone that is not on this particular journey to identify with the struggles, or even successes, that you have. In the moments that you are second guessing yourself and wanting to slam your head into a wall, you can benefit more from someone who’s been where you are rather than someone who can’t wait to say, “I don’t know why you’re doing all that anyway.” Because the truth is, they don’t know. They don’t possess your vision, your desire, your ambition or your grit. They definitely don’t have the need that you are driven to fill. Bounce your ideas, and even your frustrations, off of someone who’s been there, and kept it moving. Link arms with others who won’t quit and won’t allow you to either. There’s a pretty cool tribe over on Facebook that I get a chance to lead and grow with. We’d be happy to have you in the No Excuse Crew.
Get help. Just like it’s hard to maneuver without good company and counsel, it’s equally as hard to operate a successful business, and work full-time without good help. This takes us back to wise time management. While it may seem like you need to create, market, sell, organize, recruit, train and do everything in between for your business, that is precisely the reason why you feel like there’s never enough time. You’re doing too much. Now let’s throw in your work responsibilities, any children’s activities, home management and extra curriculars. You feel like you’re drowning right? It’s time to get your head above water. Ask yourself, “what are the things that only I can do? What are things that need to get done, but don’t require me to do them? What are things that don’t need to be completed right now?” When you answer those questions truthfully, and become willing to “walk out your plan”, you will start to free up more time to bring the harmony into your life. Also consider hiring help not just for your business, but your home as well, (housekeeper, nanny, grocery delivery, meal prep service) and realize that time saved there produces more time elsewhere.
Set a date or settle in. There’s so much hype around being able to quit a job and work for oneself. You want the real? Working for yourself full time is like…seeing your favorite celebrity’s photo untouched or without makeup. You’re like, “wait…but, I thought…”, yeah exactly. While there are some extreme benefits to working for yourself full time, leaving your job or doing so prematurely can cause unsurmountable strain that can very well impact your business, and your life. Now, please know that you are capable of doing whatever you put your mind to, so if your goal is to quit working to run your business full time, then set a date and get moving. Just know that it will require more of you than you can imagine. And it doesn’t stop the day you are able to quit, it only increases. There is no paycheck just for showing up, and the responsibility of the bottom line rests on you. If you’re ready for that charge, forge ahead. Conversely don’t allow yourself to feel bad if quitting your job isn’t feasible or in your plan right now. You are able to do both, successfully. And while some may be struggling with financing their dream because they’re stretching their business income to be their everything, you have the ability to fund your life, your business, and the help you need, because you’re still clocking in from 9 to 5. Don’t feel embarrassed or anything less than accomplished. Some people need that income to build, others use it to build faster. Either way, unless someone is handing you a blank check, their opinion is inconsequential. Contrary to popular belief, holding down a job while operating a business is not an indication that your business is failing. Though many may not acknowledge it, there are actually people who love what they do, despite also having a business. You don’t have to choose to fit someone else’s ideal.
It’s not easy. But please know that what you are doing is worth it. Whether you know it or not, you are SUPER, badass, phenomenal and all around dope. There are many people who can barely handle the one job they are required to work daily. You, however, juggle a schedule that would crumble the average person. And for that you are to be celebrated. We salute you, because we understand, first hand. The House of 334 is our growing baby, but it’s not our only child…so we understand split attention, time and energy. It is worth it to note, however, that though you may feel challenged often, and wonder if everything you go through is worth it, the reward is unexplainable and unimaginable. The only requirement to reach the reward is that you don’t quit. What you feed grows, what you starve dies. Feed your dream, starve the doubt. The world needs you. The world needs us. Let’s give it to em.
The Ladies of The House