I will never forget the feeling that I had when I walked out of the high school doors for the very last time. I had all of this build-up in my mind about how incredible it would be to leave my teaching career and work on my own.
No more parent-teacher conferences? No dumb advisory lessons that the kids didn't care about? No more lesson plans? So awesome!!!!! Then after a few months of working for myself…I realized that being an entrepreneur isn't exactly what I thought it would be.
Don't get me wrong – I'm lucky to do what I do and work from a laptop.
But it's definitely not all Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk in the beginning. I'm just now getting to the point where I feel like things have settled in and I'm really starting to figure some things out, and I've been doing this for almost three years now.
If you've ever dreamed about striking out and working for yourself, I want to enlighten you a bit. 🙂
Here are some of the least sexy things about being a full-time entrepreneur:
The night after I quit my job to run M$M, I woke up in the middle of the night and my heart was beating out of my chest. I went into the bathroom to splash some water on my face, and it just kept going. I stood there looking in the mirror trying to figure out what the heck was wrong with me.
Was I dying?
It lasted for about 20 minutes, and then finally I calmed down and was able to go back to sleep after my mind stopped racing.
When I asked some of my friends about it the next day, they knew exactly what it was:
A panic attack.
Honestly, I had never had a panic attack in my life up until that point. People that know me personally typically think I'm pretty chill and don't get too excited about things, and I've certainly never had a problem with anxiety.
But that night, when I had just ripped away the feeling of safety that comes with a paycheck – I felt like I was legitimately going to die.
Now, fortunately, that hasn't happened since. I hope it never does again…because that sucked so much!
I never realized how powerful a steady paycheck is to the human psyche.
It's so easy to doubt yourself every step of the way as an entrepreneur. I think a lot of times, outsiders view entrepreneurs as these bold, fearless warriors because they usually only see the success stories or what the entrepreneur wants you to see.
But the reality is…most of the time you don't know what the heck you're doing because nobody is telling you what to do.
9 times out of 10, you feel like a blindfolded drunk person stumbling around in a dark room, hoping that you don't accidentally stick your finger in a light socket instead of hitting the switch.
It honestly doesn't matter how many “how-to guides” you read on something. You won't figure it out in real life until you screw it up 14 times first. That's how learning works, unfortunately.
The tough part is that your clients, customers, and readers don't really care about any of that haha.
They just want a good product.
Yes, that sounds dramatic, and yes, that's what it's actually like.
Have you ever seen Wolf of Wallstreet?
There's a scene where Leonardo DiCaprio asks his friend to sell him a pen. I'd link to it, but it's laced with more profanity than I've ever had on the site before…so you'll just have to Google it. 🙂
After you watch it, I challenge you today to go find a pen and try to sell it to your spouse, best friend, or sibling.
You might be thinking…well that sounds stupidly easy. It's a pen. Everyone needs a pen.
I guarantee that if you've never sold anything in your life, you're going to feel like an idiot trying to sell that pen to someone you know. You'll probably start describing why the pen is pretty and how long the ink lasts, which nobody really cares about.
So chances are you'll fail at selling the pen to people you already know, but what if you had to sell it to someone you don't know at all?
That's why selling is one of the most uncomfortable parts of being a business owner. You don't start out (usually) with sales training or massive amounts of sales experience.
I specifically remember one of the first sales meetings that I ever went to that crashed and burned into flames in less than 5 minutes, but for some reason, I kept trying to sell this guy marketing services that he didn't want for the next hour. So dumb.
That's not to say I haven't gotten better at it in the last few years, but holy crap the learning curve is steep with sales. It really doesn't matter if you're trying to sell online or sell in person. It's all hard at first.
Like clockwork at the beginning of every month, I feel like my business is going to fail. My wife is probably sick of me talking about how I need to really hustle this month because *insert whatever here* could go wrong and the whole thing could blow up in my face.
Now you might be thinking, “Bobby, you make great money online and it's super consistent!”
And yes, that's cool…but nobody cares haha. In business, it doesn't really matter what you did last month, and your success the previous month doesn't have a whole lot of bearing on the current month anyways.
Even when you have a business that has grown as quickly as mine has, you always have to keep the thought in the back of your mind that nothing is automatic. I don't know if it's true or not, but I feel like the second I take my foot off the pedal I'll start to go backward.
Over time it does change (just like everything else). You do start to think less in months and more in quarters, and then hopefully years. But for the first year or so, you better be ready to freak out on the day one of each month.
Or, maybe every day.
5. You can't just take vacations all the time (in the beginning)
One of my other business owning friends and I joke about this all the time. A lot of people have this mistaken belief that because you set your own hours, you can just do whatever the heck you want every day.
In the beginning of my business, that's actually was kinda true.
When M$M wasn't doing anything and I only had one marketing client…I legit felt like I was in some kind of early retirement.
But then you start stacking things on top of each other, and all of the sudden you're working 7 days a week and turn down tons of opportunities to hang out with your friends or take a little time off.
I'm sure a lot of my friends are wondering what the heck happened to me! It's pretty simple…I'm hustling.
Now obviously, you can alleviate some of that by hiring people or setting up systems. But it's not just as simple as “setting time aside” or “getting better at maintaining work-life balance.” You have to build your business to a point to where that's actually possible.
I don't care what blogger or entrepreneur you follow that has an awesome lifestyle now – they had to work incredibly hard for a long time to get where they are.
Taxes suck. I don't really have much else to say here other than hire a good accountant and pray.