I saw something earlier today that said this: do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life work super fucking hard all the time with no separation or any boundaries and also take everything extremely personally.
This. Is. Me.
It’s been exactly a year since I quit my 9 to 5 and became self-employed. I’ve never felt so enthused, tired, confused, forceful, driven, lazy, tearful, strong, and happy in my entire life. Yes, all these things at the very same time.
What do I do? I run an in-home childcare company with 17 employees and contract as a content writer and brand advocate for companies who promote sustainable living and fashion. I built my childcare company from the ground up and fell into content writing by accident.
People always talk about how much hard work it is being an entrepreneur. Memes about coffee hits and working 24/7 could not pop up more frequently on my Instagram page if I tried. Yet, people are still confused about why it’s so hard to work yourself. Surely you run around popping to yoga, coffee with friends, and clock off when you need to, right?
I remember in the very first week of my self-employment, my family were discussing who would take my grandfather to his doctor’s appointment. Someone said, “Kate can do it; she’s not working this week.” Hah. The first slap in the face of many more to come.
To be honest, some days I do go to yoga and have coffee with friends. Is that okay with you?
It’s only been a year, but I’ve had – and heard – enough.
Let’s bust some entrepreneur myths and share some secrets…
1. I don’t stop working
There’s no second in the day that I’m not developing my business, answering emails, and doing the ‘daily grind’ admin chores. When I’m in the shower. Brainstorms. When I’m at the gym. Ideas. When I’m watching a movie. Can’t sit down: must go and work.
I run a 24/7 on-call service for in-home childcare. If I’m hosting a party, I may be called to go and arrange an emergency babysitter for a family in need. I’ll politely leave the room and spend 15 three-minutes making phone calls in a hectic mess, then return and try to be present again. Once I was called at 12:30am when I was at a concert in the middle of the city.
Making this switch between work and friends often is draining. Going from high levels of stress to chill time, puts my body in a continuous level of stress. But when you’re a small business, with no funds for outsourcing, you’ve got to just do it.
2. I eat everything, or not at all
Working from home alone, means you get distracted. Food is the biggest distraction. There are days when I visit the kitchen 10+ times to procrastinate and days when my husband gets home at 5pm, and I realise I haven’t left my desk since he left at 6am.
3. I must be everyone, and everything, at all times
I have a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in business psychology. No one prepared me for my new role as the Head of Marketing, HR Manager, Accountant, Administrator, Business Advisor, CEO, COO, CFO, and Head of Sales. I’m constantly learning on my feet.
Just today I had to decide how to manage someone who hasn’t paid my childcare business in over 30 days. Yesterday, I had to learn how to use a new accounting software, and tomorrow I might be called by an employee with a personal problem, and I’ll decide how to manage it (whilst complying to all legal codes of conduct) in the five seconds given to me between their story and a pause.
Being all these things means I’m constantly learning and hardly able to reflect. I switch between roles, businesses, and contexts so frequently, my mind feels like a giant pinball machine.
4. I’m so fulfilled it’s not even funny
We complain a lot, us entrepreneurs. We talk about how we must be everything to everyone, and that we work 24/7. Oh jeepers, there’s Kate again, complaining about how much work she’s doing! But it’s not work. It’s who I am.
When you work for yourself, your business becomes your hobby, your work, your life. Watching mindless TV shows and dilly-dallying about the house doesn’t cut it anymore. The impact you can make on others, through growing your business, outweighs anything else. I couldn’t imagine not doing what I do. I do it because I believe in it 100%. I wouldn’t have taken the risk of leaving a stable income if I didn’t.
Related Post: Why I Can’t Sit Down And Read A Book Anymore
5. If I don’t hustle, I don’t get paid
Payday doesn’t exist for me. Going to work, coming home, and expecting a lump sum of money in your account every month or week, sounds like a novelty. I get paid when I spend a few hours invoicing, follow up invoices, send reminder emails, and push until my customers decide to pay their bills.
“Hey, can you please pay your invoice that’s two weeks overdue because I need to buy my groceries?”
6. I take everything personally, and it hurts
When you’re working for someone else, there’s a barrier between you and the service or product that you’re working with. Even though the customers may be yours, they’re not dealing with you directly. There’s always a brand name in the way, or a manager who steps in to defend you. If there’s a problem, complaint, or emergency, no matter how invested you are in your job, it doesn’t sit with you quite like it does when it’s your own company.
I don’t ever go home from work, so there’s no distance between my business and my feelings.
Even the small things feel like the big things to me. Perhaps it’s because I’m new to this entrepreneur thing, but I’m not sure they’ll ever go away. You become an entrepreneur because you believe in something, and when that’s talked about negatively, or something doesn’t happen the way you pictured, it hits straight in your core. I feel winded daily.
I wrote this article over the space of eight hours, because I was called three times, sent two urgent emails, and remembered I had to eat.
Next time you meet an entrepreneur, please stifle your judgements. Ask them how their business is going, and congratulate them from jumping off the cliff. If they’re on their way to yoga at 10:30am, or lying on the beach at 1pm, keep in mind they were probably working until 2am that morning.
If I’ve scared you off starting a business, don’t be afraid: do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.