Them: “How’s your business going, Laurel?”
Me: “It’s going really great. Yeah, things are going well and really starting to pick up.”
Translation: I’ve been doing this business for over 2 years and I’m still not sure if it will ever be easy. I can’t go back to working a job, but sometimes my bank account craves that bi-weekly paycheck with such an insatiable intensity that I find myself scrolling through job postings on Craigslist. I work 10+ hours a day most days. I think about work 24 hours a day, since it’s in my dreams. I don’t take weekends. Weekends seem like a long-lost luxury that I checked at the door of my last job along with my health insurance benefits and 401k. As a small business owner, some days are good and some days are freakin’ terrifying. I never know where my next dollar is coming from. I don’t always know if I’ll be able to pay my bills. But the worst days are the days when I wonder after all the blood, sweat and tears that I’ve put into this business, if anyone even cares.
Being a small business owner can be freakin’ scary, man.
There. I said it.
I can’t lie. This kind of lifestyle is not for everyone.
But here’s the problem—few entrepreneurs discuss how difficult it actually is (especially at first) to start a business from scratch. I’ve talked to dozens of entrepreneurs over the years, and most of them give the same, sugar-coated answer that I do: “Everything is going great.” But is that always the case?
You think entrepreneurs would open up a little more to their fellow entrepreneurs because there is a mutual understanding among us, but no. We don’t share our struggles with one another and we don’t let onto the fact that it’s not all sunshine and roses. And we definitely don’t want people who are working a job to think we are working our asses off for very little in return.
Not that I believe small business owners should be openly complaining (trust me—I am not big on naysayers) AND not that I think all business owners are struggling, BUT it’s refreshing to get a little honestly here and there. “Everything is going great” is such an innocuous statement that always leaves me wondering about all the fears, doubts and insecurities that lie just beneath the surface.
My goal in sharing this is not to be a Debbie Downer, but instead, to let you in behind the curtain of what it’s really like day-to-day. It’s fuckin’ hard sometimes. It’s the hardest thing you’ll probably ever do. And if you’re already running your business full-time right now, you know that it’s hard…and I’m here to tell you that I get it. I’m right there with you.
The most uplifting “entrepreneurial” moment I’ve had recently was when I attended a local Meetup to discuss Seth Godin’s latest book. There were about 30 people there and everyone had a chance to speak about what scares them the most as a small business owner. All of sudden, the fears and doubts that have been so hush-hush for so long came out in full view. And in that moment, I didn’t feel alone anymore. I felt like we were all in this together. Each one of us had such a passion for expressing ourselves through our businesses that we were willing to face those fears and doubts head on and make every attempt to push through them.
Right now, if you are struggling with growing your business, just know that most entrepreneurs go through the exact same process, whether they talk about it or not. It’s scary to put yourself on the line to start a new business. It’s scary to quit your job. It’s scary to not have a paycheck. But without any doubt, I can say, it’s a small price to pay for getting to do what you love to do and spending each and every day following your dreams. (And don’t worry–it all works out in the end anyway.)