It wasn’t always like this. Running a company wasn’t something that I transitioned to and said “Oh cool I can make money doing what I love.” It was a scary transition at first. I was so used to working for someone else. I’m a super disciplined rules-stickler (I blame my Eastern European upbringing for that) so I need STRUCTURE. Being an online business owner is a bit different from a 9-5.
Running an online business offers plenty of that structure if you plan it out in a certain way, but it’s nowhere near as predictable as a standard office job. There’s security in an office job. You don’t really have to HUSTLE to put bread on the table. You might have to work very hard with long hours, but you’ll still get your check at the end of the week as long as you play by the rules.
Being an entrepreneur requires a completely different mindset. You need to break rules, step on toes and fight for things you might want. You need to do those things with aptness, grace and firmness. It’s like walking a tightrope. The fall might end your business and everything you’ve worked for so hard. But reaching the end of that tightrope brings new opportunity, experience, and recognition.
That said, if I didn’t make the transition I would’ve never grown like I did in the past several years.
The 7 Biggest Lessons I Learned As An Online Business Owner
I learned from my first business that growing too fast was a death-wish. I couldn’t keep up production since it was a physical product. I paced myself with my next project.
I knew that to grow at a consistent pace, I needed to figure out ways along the way to offload tasks, automate certain things, and find process optimization techniques that would allow me to do further business development without overburdening me with the menial tasks.
This part is still a work in progress, but I know not to move on to the next phase of the project until I’m sure the previous phase is self-sufficient and able to perform without constant supervision from me.
Vacations aren’t possible.
I mean, yes, they’re technically possible. You can work on the beach somewhere I guess. Point is, you can’t just let things go when you go on vacation. In my office jobs, I took time off and that was that. I didn’t have to think about my office work until I got back from vacation.
This is NOT POSSIBLE when you’re running your own business. It’s just not. Don’t expect time off. Expect flexibility. That’s the most reasonable expectation you can have as a business owner. It’s definitely possible to work a lot less on vacation though, but you’re going to have to prep a lot for that.
I typically schedule everything in advance and prep all my articles and social media posts. I still take about an hour to two a day to catch up on everything and check e-mails.
You’re going to have the most fulfilling career moments.
Your successes will be purely your own. It feels incredible! I still remember the first time I got paid for a promotion. It was incredible knowing that people were willing to pay me to just attend something! That was a milestone. I put in enough effort into my work and worked hard enough to reap a reward. That reward was in no way making me rich, but it afforded me a meal! And that was a big deal.
You’ll feel strange talking about what you do, especially with people who have only had full-time office jobs.
Not everyone will understand. A lot of people will assume you’re working a lot less or you’re a hobbyist who got lucky. Not everyone will understand the business structure or the amount of effort you’ve put into your business. I’ve definitely experienced feelings of not being taken seriously because I wasn’t working for someone else.You won’t be able to do anything about that.
Just keep working hard and remember: they’re not the ones transferring money into your bank account. Most people are supportive once they understand exactly how your business functions and how much effort goes into it, so try different ways of explaining and see what sticks.
Keep up with the accounting!
This is honestly so hard for me. You HAVE to keep track of you expenses and income. Trust me, once tax season hits, you’ll thank yourself. Whenever I do anything for my business, I make sure that I have the receipt for it and that it’s logged in my accounting software.
There are a lot of good apps and free software out there now that can help you with accounting.
The sky is the limit.
Seriously, there’s nothing that you can’t do. You’ll start developing the mentality that you should just go for it. You’ll start thinking out of the box and you won’t be limited by somebody else’s structure or rules.
As a business owner, you’ll have the ultimate choice of which path to take to move your company forward. It’s going to feel both overwhelming and incredibly exhilarating to have that many choices!
You’ll have to force yourself to take care of yourself once in a while.
I wrote a bit about what my burnouts look like. It took me a while to recognize that I was even having a burnout. I didn’t know what the heck I was going through! Once I learned what a burnout looks like, it allowed me to structure my time and my breaks a little differently. Knowing how to take care of myself helps me stay more productive in the long-term.