So you’d like to be your own boss. Terrific! It’s a very empowering position to create for your life. However, I’ve noticed a worrying trend over the past few months, where the dream of being your own boss is being sold through a bunch of cliches and generally wishy-washy advice. Today, if you’ll humour me, I’d like to get a few things off my chest and chat a bit about 5 Being Your Own Boss Myths that are holding you back or stopping you from even trying.
1. “Being self employed means having unstable income.”
Just because somebody is self-employed doesn’t mean the employment or income is unstable. Great small businesses are strategically designed to be sustainable, which means cutting regular paychecks and hitting sales goals, just like any other company.
Are things tight when you’re first starting out? Of course. Are there ups and downs as you progress? Obviously. Every company on the planet has strong quarters and weak quarters, campaigns that are a hit and campaigns that flop. But there are systems in place to help navigate those ebbs and flows to keep things stable and sustainable.
2. “If you build it they will come.”
Just… no. While this poetic line delivered by Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams gives us all the feels, it only works because it is a – wait for it – movie! Reality is a little trickier. Building a website, writing a book, or creating a product are all amazing triumphs that you should be proud of, but they aren’t enough for your business to be successful.
So if you’ve launched something recently and are now sitting back and waiting for things to suddenly click, hop to it and support your launch. Hard work, on point branding, marketing strategies, sales initiatives, research and pure determination are the true recipe for attracting and retaining an engaged clientele. You can do it! It’s a formula that can be followed.
3. “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
This little sentiment is something people LOVE to throw around and while I get what it is trying to say, don’t be mistaken – being your own boss is a ton of work. You’ll work harder and longer than you ever will for somebody else, ever! Period.
And some of those work days will be HARD. There will be lots of tears – some happy, some sad, some frustrated, some pure exhaustion. There will be days where you want to give up. There will be days that you think you hate the thing you love. There will be days where you actually hate it. And guess what? That is all OKAY! Life isn’t all unicorns and cotton candy, and being your own boss certainly isn’t. So don’t buy into this cliche – thinking it’s all dreamy all the time will only prove to be crushing. Be a realist and be determined to embrace the good and the bad of being your own boss!
4. “It must be nice to work in your pajamas all day.”
Yes, some self-employed people do work very effectively and successfully in pjs all day and that is awesome for them! But a lot of small business owners get dressed for work every – single – day. Maybe I’m being overly sensitive here, but assuming that somebody works in their pjs all days always comes across as loaded with subtext to me. “Oh, how relaxing to work from home,” or “You must get to play hooky all the time,” or “Your home must always be spotless, right?” No, no, no. Being your own boss and working from home means dressing the part and putting in long hours to get your business off the ground. I personally love to shop at Smithery Style for fashionable business looks. This wonderful Toronto company offers a curated destination complete with friendly personal styling to transform your shopping experience into an absolute delight! Their resident stylesmiths helped me pick out this wonderful artsy chic black sleeveless sweater and buttery olive pants (as in they fit like butter), which saw me through a busy day of meetings.
Being your own boss means being even more professional than you ever would be in an office working for somebody else. You are the face and soul of your brand, you are the first impression at networking events, you are the closer at every meeting — very few people can pull that off in pjs alone, so be prepared to get off the couch, get dressed and put in the hours.
5. “You need lots of money to start a business and make it profitable.”
Ok, honestly? I would have loved to have had a ton of money to sink into my business right off the bat. But my reality was that I only had a small amount of savings squirrelled away, enough to cover rent and basic groceries for a few months. And that was it. I did without clothes, meals out, going to the movies, trips, and any other recreational spending for a long time in order to make my business work.
Good ideas and strategies and devoted time are more valuable to a new business than lots of money. After all, you could sink a small fortune into your business and not have it be effective because you aren’t experienced. So if anyone tells you that you have to have lots of cold hard cash to start a business, smile politely and totally ignore them.
6. “One day I’ll make it and everything will run perfectly.”
There is no such thing as making it. There is no such thing as a business running ‘perfectly.’ Challenges never truly disappear in a business; although hopefully you grow more confident and capable of dealing with them. Similarly, a business is always growing and evolving – if it doesn’t, it won’t last long – so the idea of ‘making it’ isn’t actually productive. The more experience you gain with your business and the better you get to know your brand, the smoother things will operate for sure. But the ultimate success is learning to enjoy the ride of being an entrepreneur, bumps and all (especially the bumps!)
The reality of being your own boss?
It’s challenging. It’s always changing. It will test and try you. It will make you question everything. It will require dedication. It will require determination. It will mean getting excited about the dry behind-the-scenes tasks (of which there are plenty!) However, it will also be rewarding, liberating and empowering. So put on your boss pants and get to work! It’s worth the never-ending journey!
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