Eight lies to tell yourself to survive your first year in business
Here’s a statement from Captain Obvious (at least, it seems incredibly obvious to me now): an entrepreneur’s first year in business can be gruelling. When the results don’t come as quickly as we’d like, it’s easy to get frustrated and even easier to give up.
Luckily, advice on how to keep moving forward abounds! Sometimes it even feels like there might be just a wee bit too much of it.
My suggestion? Lie.
Politicians do it. Celebrities do it. Why can’t we do it too?
Here are eight lies I told myself to survive my first year in business.
1. It’s a first draft. I’ll change it later
Every idea starts out perfect. In our imaginations, our websites/stories/businesses are stunning and immaculately executed creations. In the abstract, no dream is too complicated, no pieces are missing, and the perfect words are right there, on the tips of our tongues and fingertips.
But once we start heaving our vision into the realm of reality, everything goes to shit.
The website doesn’t do that thing you wanted it to do. Your marketing efforts are a little loosey goosey around the edges. You fuss, tinker, and wonder if you’ll ever be ready to launch.
Maybe you have yourself an ugly cry.
But it’s all just a first draft. You can change it later! Believing this half-truth gives you the strength to forge ahead into the brave blue yonder.
In reality, your creation is going to be in first-draft mode for longer than you mean it to. Longer than you would have been comfortable with, had you known. In fact, if you really stopped to think about just long this incomplete version of your business would exist — and maybe even thrive, to your amazement and chagrin! — the superhuman perfectionist in you would scream.
But you don’t have to tell her. She doesn’t have to know.
2. I’m superhuman!
Your first year in business (and probably your second and third…) requires some superhuman traits. Invincibility, for one. Superhero strength. Ridiculously thick skin.
You’ve got all that, right? RIGHT?
3. I don’t even want to make six figures
It’s celebrated in Facebook groups, broadcast in blog posts, and whispered about at parties — with amazement, not jealousy, to be sure!
No matter how or why you start your business, at some point it becomes obvious that the status-quo definition of success involves six figures. Revenue, gross, you have no idea which one they’re talking about and it doesn’t matter because it’s more money than you can dream of either way.
Bringing in this kind of money in the first year is difficult (though not impossible, of course). You have to spend some time testing, adjusting, and probably failing a little. Maybe you have to offer your services at a lower rate, do some pro-bono work, or spend some time drumming your fingers on the desk waiting clients to appear. Maybe you go back to the drawing board once or twice.
All of that is totally cool because you, you don’t even WANT to make six figures. You just want to support yourself doing the work you love. You want to share your message and help good people live happier, fuller, easier lives. Epic cash flow would be nice, sure, but it isn’t a priority. Not now, not here.
But next year? Next year might be a different story — am I right?
4. Things will settle down as soon as I finish X, Y, or Z.
In the beginning, your to-do list keeps mushrooming. Every time you return to it, it grows exponentially. Sometimes it looks like you’ve fallen asleep with your face on your keyboarddddddddddddd.
So you tell yourself that after this stretch of to-dos, all the craziness will subside. That this is just a particularly busy phase. A period of particularly hard work — that, luckily, you don’t need to sustain.
You need to believe that to keep going.
But truth is, something else is always just around the corner. There is always something else you could and should be doing to grow your business.
Keep going, because just when you think you can’t handle it anymore, something will shift. The sky will open up. It’ll be sunny, and you have time to breathe.
5. Being alone is AWESOME.
If you’re working from home, as a lot of small business owners do (especially in the beginning), you’re probably going to spend a lot of time alone. You might not have colleagues or officemates. Nobody to joke with at the water cooler or walk to the coffee shop with after lunch.
This can be lonely. You might start to talk to a pet or stuffed animal, and that’s okay. You might even start missing your old job — do not be fooled by this!
Being alone is awesome. You can hear each and every one of your own thoughts! You don’t have any use noise-cancelling headphones with Portishead on repeat. You can work in your housecoat, and it is fluffy!
Of course, you won’t always be alone all the time. When your business grows you’ll be so busy that you’ll miss this phase. Savour it.
6. It doesn’t feel like work at all!
You know how you told your friends you were starting your own business because you wanted to have more fun? Well, you better believe it’s happening — even when you have to do your bookkeeping, even when you can’t find the receipt for something expensive, and even when you forget about daylight savings time and miss a very important meeting in another time zone.
Even then, it doesn’t feel like work. That’s freaking amazing.
(Just say it ‘til you believe it.)
7. This uncomfortable feeling is totally manageable.
To grow your business in 2015, you’ve got to put yourself out there, over and over and in various ways. Networking events, social media posts, and perhaps you even made a VIDEO for your website.
Heavens. That’s awkward.
It feels a little uncomfortable, but the uncomfortable feeling is totally manageable. It’s reasonable, even. You’ve totally got this!
Please don’t hide under the bed.
8. Nobody does it like I do
Are you keeping an eye on your competition? Wait, let’s put that in quotation marks — your “competition.” Maybe you’re covering your eyes in horror but also peaking through them — because you do, sadistically, want to know what the woman who offers exactly what you offer is up to.
But then you step away, shake yourself off, and remember. Yes, your businesses may be similar. Yes, your prospects could also be her prospects, and vice versa. But there are clear and significant differences in the way you do what you do.
YOU are at the centre of your business, and there’s nobody out there just like you.
This one isn’t really a lie. But you do have to remind yourself, over and over again.
That’s it! Get fibbing and your business will be on its way in no time.
But in all seriousness? I think the most important thing is not to quit too early. It takes time to find your niche and grow a tribe — and don’t even get me started on systems and organization, eesh.
Hold on tight and keep going. xo
Nicole Baute has spent her entire life telling stories, both professionally and in her spare time as a creative writer. At NicoleBaute.com, she helps entrepreneurs grow their businesses by becoming more effective and happier writers. Get her free DIY-copywriting resources right here.
Originally published at www.storyfactory.ca on May 7, 2015.