Online Business Owning Isn’t a Walk in the Park

Gillian Sisley

Actually, it’s a whole lot of chaos. Here are some hard truths you should know before taking the plunge.

Image by rawpixel from Pixabay

If you're thinking of starting an online business, you’re probably doing plenty of research to find out exactly what you’re getting yourself into.

And good for you, because a well-informed entrepreneur is a better-equipped entrepreneur!

But I’m going to be real with you. There are some truths that you might have trouble finding online.

Truths you’ll need to come to terms with if you’re going to embark on this journey.

These are the reality checks I’ve learned in the three years of being my own boss:

Your working hours are going to be less than glamorous.

You’ve read this already. But you don’t really know what it means until you’ve done it.

For example: the day of the week I clock the most hours? Friday. Always, always Friday.

Yup. I work until about 12 AM most Fridays… and this is the case because:

  1. I hold my weekends sacred
  2. The To-Do list never really ends

I like to go into the weekend without a worry in the world. I don’t want to be stressed about a project that’s not quite finished, or a goal that didn’t get achieved, for the entire weekend. So I nip it in the bud by getting everything I can done on Friday nights.

I easily clock over 12 hours on Fridays. I’m writing this post to you at 11:13 PM on a Friday night, and I’m not even close to calling my week quits yet. #glamour

Things are going to go wrong at the worst time possible.

Just starting your online business? Barely a penny to your name? Perhaps rubbing two dimes together if you’re lucky? Sounds like the PERFECT time for the hard drive of your laptop to fry itself like an over-easy egg!

This actually happened to me.

About a week after I decided to pursue my business full-time (October 2016), my 6-year-old laptop decided to tell me to screw myself, and burned my hard drive to a crisp.

I ended up buying a new hard drive to keep my laptop going, because I had a business to run. The charges went straight on my credit card (and stayed there for a while). But it was better than buying a whole new laptop.

Of course, when I got it back from the shop, turns out that the WiFi had crapped out as well! So I bought a USB WiFi enhancer.

Today, I’ve reached financial comfort in my business. And still that WiFi USB hangs from my computer in its resting dock, 24/7. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it! Because that costs money you probably don’t have!

You probably won’t get to pay yourself for about a year, if you’re lucky.

Statistics show that more than 90% of startups fail. Most of the remaining 10% won’t see any real profit for a year or two.

Yup. That’s a real thing.

Now would be the best time to tap into your university-self — the days when you spent 4 years so broke-ass poor that you actually laughed about it, because if you cried you’d basically never stop.

Sorry to break it to you, but business is no different.

I reached profit FAR sooner than most startups or freelancers. People were surprised, I was shocked… and it still took me 7 months until I could give myself a real salary. Before then, I transferred funds from my business account to my personal one on a need-to-pay-this-bill basis.

Good news — if you’re a new grad, and have yet to make a steady income anyways, this is the perfect time to start your business!

You’re at your prime for pinching pennies for the long haul. That skill will ease a significant amount of the financial pains as you move forward. It was definitely what got me through smiling.

People in your life aren’t going to understand what the hell you’re actually doing.

I don’t mean they don’t get your industry. I mean that they may not see it as valid or legitimate starting out. It happens to the best of us. Whether its parents, friends, a partner, you name it.

While online businesses aren’t exactly a new idea (they’ve been steadily popping up for the past 15 years, and have exploded in the past 5), they’re still not entirely locked down.

Baby boomers and older are pretty stumped with this kind of thing. Hell, most of us millennials who are actually doing it are still in awe, confusion and wonder at the premise (what do you mean I can make a full-time income from home, working on my sofa in yoga pants?)

Whatever they say, validate yourself in the legitimacy of your business. If you keep up with the hard work, and give your target market exactly what they want, you’ll get to the point where you can prove all those people wrong.

Your health is going to take a hard hit.

News flash: being on top of your health is more imperative than ever.

Odds are, you’re going to start out a one-man/woman show. So, if you get sick and are bed-ridden, guess what happens? Your entire business is at a stand-still. And your clients, more than anyone, are going to suffer for that.

But you’ll suffer a bit too. The long working hours are going to be draining. It’ll become challenging to shut your brain off at the end of the day, because you’ve got a million things racing through your mind.

The stress and the strain of running your own shit will cause tightness in your neck and shoulders. And you’ll always be at a huge risk for adrenal fatigue, which is the fancy, scientific term for what the entrepreneurship industry knows all too well: burn-out.

So what do you do? You don’t forget to put yourself first… but that’s easier said than done. Keep in mind that the quality of your health will reflect on the quality of work you’re putting out there to your clients.

But most of all, you’ll just be happier. So suck it up and exercise regularly. Don’t opt out of lunch to finish something for a client. If you wake up feeling like a train-wreck, go back to sleep. Take the financial hit and book yourself a monthly massage. Or, just take a day in the week off every now and then.

Because if you don’t you’re doing yourself and your business a huge disservice.

Most importantly, just listen to your body and respect what it’s telling you. You’ll find out everything you need from the clues it’s giving you.

Final words.

While some of my above truths seem less than glamorous, and while it’s true the Boss Life isn’t always greener grass, I wouldn’t be doing anything else.

What it comes down to, at the end of the day, is that over all else I value my freedom and flexibility.

Few careers will provide the level of freedom or flexibility I have from being my own boss and running my own shit solo. There’s nothing like it.

I’ve without a doubt found the perfect career for me. Through my business, I’m able to travel to places like Niagara Falls, Arizona and Florida (just to name a few) because I can work from anywhere as long as I have a solid WiFi connection.

The income I make from my business means I was able to purchase my first property at 25. My business has allowed me to work with the most inspiring and empowering entrepreneurs Halifax has to offer.

I’m the luckiest LadyBoss in all the land.

I sincerely, truly believe that. Every single day.

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