Getting Honest With Yourself About Small Business Ownership (Part One)
Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry, I want you to get a better idea of what it means to be a small business owner. So many of you want to start your own business someday and it's important that you have a realistic picture of what that entails. Show of hands... how many of you think I spend 8 hours per day in my shop in Charleston making jewelry next to my sweet dog, Cooper? You might be surprised at how little of my schedule is actually devoted to jewelry making. Read on to see what I mean.
I think one of the problems aspiring small business owners encounter is that they don't know what the actual day-to-day entails. You can actually say this about any career, right? Take my former career as a lawyer for example. So many people think I spent most of my days in court. That's not the case at all - most lawyers spend most of their days alone, researching and writing the documents that need to be submitted to the court. And, many times, the court doesn't even ask you to show up! Instead, they make a decision from the documents you spent so many hours writing and researching alone in your office until the wee hours of the morning. Well, the same can be said of small business ownership. Take my business for instance. I bet some of you think I spend most of my time making jewelry. That couldn't be further from the truth. In an average week, perhaps 30% of my time is spent making jewelry. The rest of the time is spent on business activities, such as marketing and advertising, inventory, planning, and so on. For me, I personally love that. Again, I used to be a lawyer and so that part of me loves to strategize marketing ideas, plan about inventory numbers, and nerd out behind my computer categorizing business expenses. If my job entailed making jewelry 8 hours per day, I would have quit a long time ago. I need that mental, intellectual stimulation every day and I'm so glad about 70% of my time is spent doing things that give me that. The creative side of me is very happy spending 30% of my week making jewelry and doesn't want or need more than that.
If you go into business ownership not knowing these things, you might hate it! You've got to be honest with yourself. If you love to make beautiful handmade soaps at home, for example, and you're thinking of starting your own business but you hate the idea of marketing and advertising, managing higher levels of inventory, maintaining a website, hiring and managing a team, processing payroll, and all the countless things that business ownership entails, don't do it! Start an Etsy shop and leave it at that. I call that a glorified hobby. That's not meant to be derogatory, it's just calling a spade, a spade and getting clear on what you're doing. And by glorified hobby I mean this: you love to make soap so much that you have run out of friends and co-workers and family members to give your creations to. So you start a little shop and sell a bit of it to strangers on Etsy with no real pressure to run and scale a business. That's totally fine! You can make a little extra cash from your talent and never worry about whether you'll have enough money to pay your employees, or whether you'll hit this month's revenue goals, or whether you should hire a marketing coach to help you run a successful advertising campaign on social media.
Now, for others of you, you are lit up by the business side of things. You want to learn how to scale a profitable business, you love taking online courses on business (such as a social media advertising course), you might even like the idea of business tax planning and inventory/supply chain management. Once you get clear on which side of the aisle you fall on, you can either pursue that business with gumption or you can pursue that small Etsy shop with gratitude. You get out of this zone of uncertainty, where you are continuously debating whether or not you want to start that e-commerce website. You feel me? There is no shame in having a little side hustle that remains a side hustle. There is no shame in saying, you know, I love clothes, but I'm not good at business and so I'm going to be honest with myself and not start that online clothing boutique. That is being mature. And you know what else being honest with yourself does? It stops wasting your time and energy! You can free up that space in your brain that was constantly hemming and hawing over whether you want to start an online boutique. You know what I mean? Being unclear about what you want to do takes up a LOT of brain space, time, and energy. Once you get clear, you can either push full steam ahead or admit it's not the right fit and focus your energy elsewhere.
This week, take some time to get clear. Realistically, do you think you'll love running a business? Or would you rather keep your love of soaps, or jewelry, or art, or clothes a fun, happy hobby? Because I'll leave you with this food for thought - I've known people who've tried to turn their passion into a business and it entirely killed their love for that thing. For example, I knew a yoga teacher who opened a yoga studio and it basically killed her love of yoga. All the business things (such as annoying and troublesome clients) really ruined yoga for her and that's a sad thing. You see what I'm saying? You owe it to yourself (and you owe it to your passion!) to be realistic about business ownership. Otherwise, you might find yourself hating the very thing that used to bring you so much joy.
If you noticed the title of this week's journal entry, this is part one. Part two is coming next week! So look forward to more ways to think realistically and practically about potential business ownership. It's so important to get clear on that stuff before you invest a lot of time and money into your business idea.
I hope you're able to learn something valuable from my own journey and experiences. My wish is for everyone to know the feeling of doing work that brings them joy. It truly is an unbelievable gift to not dread Mondays and hope for Friday's fast arrival. If you'd like my Weekly Journal sent straight to your inbox every week, click here to subscribe.
P.S. Are you on Pinterest? I'm in the process of creating a Weekly Journal board on Pinterest so you can easily navigate all of my journal entries. You can view and follow the board by clicking here. I've written so much about quitting my lawyer job to start g+h over the past couple years and I want to make it easier for you to access and read the entries that resonate most!
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