Running a Business Is Not Glamorous

Gillian Sisley

No matter what the 1% of millionaire entrepreneurs on social media are telling you.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Do you know what online writing platforms need more of?

More small business owners and solopreneurs talking about the actual realities of running a business.

There are too many super-duperly successful entrepreneurs on this platform preaching the amazing everything that has to do with running a business, and how there’s never a dull or sad or scary moment.

Uh, excuse me. Sorry, I hate to burst your bubble — but this is absolute and total bullsh*t.

Entrepreneurship is stocked full of dull and sad and scary moments.

And until other entrepreneurs, including those of us who quietly run our businesses and don’t bother anyone, start speaking out about what entrepreneurship actually looks like, there are going to be a lot of misled dreamers and aspiring-entrepreneurs buying into this false reality of what it takes to run a business.

So let’s set some things straight so that we’re all on the same page here:

There’s nothing glamorous about an unstable income.

There is no time in my life that I have ever felt so incredibly at the mercy of the universe than when I made the initial jump to running my boutique social media company full-time.

There are no, I repeat, NO certainties or givens in the world of business ownership. Not a single, f*cking one. The only thing you can even have an ounce of control over is whether you bother to show up that day.

And some days, even that is damn hard and discouraging to do.

Sure, you can do your darndest to keep things afloat and prospect clients and network and do everything you should do to keep the bucks coming in…

But there’s no guarantee that what you’re doing will actually work. And in the business world, hard work DOES NOT automotically equate to success.

A lot of the time, you’re probably going to fail. A lot of the time, you’re going to have to suck it up and try plan B. And then C, and then all the way to Z, until you find the thing that works.

I’m not going to scare you with how many revised plans you’ll have to go through until you find something that works and actually brings in money for your gig.

For those of us who have actually made it… we’ve completely lost count.

And even when you think you’ve found stability in your earnings, I’ve got a spoiler for you:

You’re wrong. You haven’t. It won’t last. Always be prepared to go into Red Alert mode. You could lose it all at any time.

I’ve experienced this more times than I can count. Nothing is stopping a client from just cutting off a source of income you depend on. Even when the work you offer is incredible and they love everything about your services, you are also at the mercy of their business being stable enough to keep you.

So your income is dependant on a giant cocktail of unstable, uncertain variables, and somehow you have to figure out how to make a living off of it.

Sounds like fun, right?

There’s nothing glamorous about losing friends.

I could chalk this up to a lot of different reasons:

Some were possibly jealous that I’d had the guts to make the leap and start my own thing, and they resented me for it.

Some depended on me to initiate everything, so when each free moment of my attention went towards my business and I wasn’t the one suggesting we grab a drink, our friendship fell off their radar without my constant management and supervision.

Some thought I was “too focused” on my business and assumed that when I said, “Sorry, I have to go home and finish a client project”, I was just lying because I didn’t want to hang out with them anymore (which wasn’t the case, when I said I needed to work, I really meant it).

And then there were others, who I intentionally let go of, because they didn’t understand what I was doing or why I didn’t call as much, and my “excuse” of trying to get my business off the ground wasn’t valid to them, so they held a grudge against me. I saw that dynamic for the toxicity that it was — if you weren’t going to be happy for me when I’d finally found the career I was most passionate about and actually built for myself, it’s not fair to expect me to be ecstatically happy for you when you have a new boyfriend and think (after 2 weeks) that he must be “the one” (which I’ve heard you say at least 6 times before about 6 different guys).

There is absolutely nothing glamorous about losing friends in the process of starting a business.

And if you don’t think it would happen to you, then you haven’t talked to enough entrepreneurs and asked them about this particular reality.

Because it exists. And it’s painful to come to terms with.

But it’s a reality you’ll need to be prepared for if you’re looking to make the jump to start your own business and invest your everything into making it succeed.

There’s nothing glamorous about putting your head down and doing the work.

At first, there will be a massive sense of excitement over having a client and doing a project for them.

That novelty, while amazing when it exists, will wear off quickly.

Because not long after, it’s time to just get to work.

It’s time to sit there and realize that the entire success or failure of your company is up to you, and you alone.

There’s no safety net, unless you’ve built one yourself. If you’re falling, and have no net, then you’re falling far, falling hard, and the fall might just kill you.

What many entrepreneurs on this platform aren’t showing you is the 99% of the time when they’re not basking in all their success and riding in their fancy cars and travelling to exotic places — they’re not showing you the 2 am crunch of damage control when everything that possibly could have gone wrong that day did and now it needs to be fixed ASAP.

They’re not showing you the disruptive client calls you have to answer, even when you’re with family and friends, even on holidays, because your clients are your livelihood and when they’re not happy you’re risking your next rent or mortgage payment.

They’re not showing you the 8+ hour days when a lot of what they’re doing is sitting in front of their computer plugging away, and starting to yawn around 4pm, ready to call it a day because, a lot of the time, work can be boring.

Of course, you make the most of what you can.

You find fulfillment in the projects that really excite you, and you plug away at the ones that don’t. You take the good with the bad, the fun with the mundane, and you don’t complain about it because this is your livelihood, and there’s a far bigger picture to this whole thing than just celebrating and feeling super cool because you “have your own business”.

If you do not work, you don’t get paid.

There’s an indescribable amount of responsibility, pressure and anxiety which accompanies a reality as stark as this.

Add a few family members into the mix who are also depending on your livelihood to survive?

That pressure builds and all you can do is get to the grind, and do your job.

Because that is life, my friend. Instagram is lying to you — we don’t get paid for drinking coffee and staring peacefully out our kitchen window, sighing as we bask in a beautiful sunny day.

We get paid by sitting down on our asses, focusing on our sh*t and doing the goddamn work.

Final word.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

There’s nothing sexy about making a comfortable income in your own business and grinding away at it every day.

There’s nothing sexy about the unavoidable sacrifices which come with committing to starting and running a business.

There’s nothing sexy about having to intentionally recommit to your business every. single. day. in order for it to not only survive, but thrive.

There’s nothing sexy about having so much of yourself invested into something that, for reasons completely and entirely out of your control, could collapse into nothingness at any given time, any given day.

Running a business is not glamorous — it’s a very intentional risk that we have to sign up for over and over again every time we wake up in the morning.

It’s a reality that is ever-changing and constantly requiring a pilot to adapt to those changes, because if they don’t then the plane will crash and everything that was built will end up in utter ruin.

Running a business is not glamorous.

Running a business is dull and sad and scary.

Running a business is thrilling and nerve-wracking and heart-breaking.

It can be terrifying, but most of the time it’s just mundane.

But we still find the joy in it that makes every day completely well-worth all of these things because we have freedom, flexibility and get to call the shots.

And the most satisfying piece of all?

We’ve built our businesses brick-by-brick with our own calloused hands, and there is an incredible sense of accomplishment and pride in that reality.

Not because it’s always fun and not because it’s glamorous, but because in the midst of all the challenges and fear and anxiety there is utter, unquestionable fulfillment.

That’s why we show up every day, and that’s why we love what we do.

Still thinking that sounds as glamorous as this platform makes it out to be?

Think again.

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