“While most trees grow steadily over a period of years, the Chinese bamboo tree doesn’t break through the ground for the first four years. Then, in the fifth year, an amazing thing happens — the tree begins to grow at an astonishing rate. In fact, in a period of just five weeks, a Chinese bamboo tree can grow to a height of 90 feet.”*
Stop thinking entrepreneurship is easy
Are you a business newbie? Are you an entrepreneur who is taking the plunge into going it on your own? If you are the person who has been in it for 1–12 months and you are starting to lose faith this blog may be for you. Keep in mind that every business is different, but in the world of social media this is a theme I have seen come up time and time again.
If you’ve been working at your business for a while now, how long did it take you to find success? I mean real sustainable success. Let’s be honest here. This whole business ownership thing is not easy. It takes WORK and DEDICATION as well as blood, sweat and tears. I get sad and sometimes a little irritated when people get discouraged after only 6 months. I don’t mean to be, well mean, but seriously you are ready to throw in the hat after only 6 months?!
It took me 3 years before I was making enough money consistently. To me that meant I no longer stressed about my bills each month. But something magical happened in my 5th year (5 years official this past March!). I’m making more money than I ever did working for someone else, and now more business comes to me without pounding the pavement.
At the 5 year mark the floodgates have opened and I am finally at a place I always wanted to be. My business now is full of the endless possibilities and income potential I’ve worked to achieve.
I am not telling you this to brag but I’m made 50K last year! That is more than I did at my corporate job. And while that may not be success to you, I have reached that benchmark to earn more than when I was paid by someone else. I know there are people making a hell of a lot more money than me, I know there are people making less. I tell you this because you, the newbie ready to give up on your dream of owning your own business, needs to understand the struggle ahead.
Here is a basic layout of how things shook out for me in the past 5 years:
Year 1 — I took any and all jobs I could get. I would teach FREE classes and network every day, sometimes 4 times per day. My goal was to get my name and expertise out there in the public. I had to hustle big time. I had to take jobs I would never consider doing now because bills needed to be paid. I used to post rental listings on Craigslist for $100 per month and do jobs from oDesk that I now get 5 times the amount to do. In year one I made around $300–800 per month in income. Honestly, if it was not for my husband I would not have been able to go at it full time. I would have had to get at least a part time job.
Year 2 — Things started to pick up a bit. I landed a couple of social media management clients and had consistent income I could rely on each month. I was making between $1000 to $2000 per month but it was not consistent. I believe I grossed around $24000 that year. I kept on taking what I could get and I kept networking. By the way, the fortune is in the follow up.
Year 3 — Through strategic partnerships I was able to get paid to teach classes. I also landed several more social media management clients and was making enough money to hire my sister in law to help me with my clients. I made around $35000 that year. It was a big deal for me as it was an income I could live off of and take the financial stress off of my husband. There are several things I changed in my third year which really helped me set the tone for the next 2 years. You can read more about this in my blog post: 3 steps that took me from bootstrap to successful entrepreneur
Year 4 — Things were getting more comfortable and I could breath a little easier. I made around $50k last year. I launched Club Stellar which has been growing steadily for 6 months and bringing in great income. Year 4 started to show signs of the success I had worked so hard for. 50k may not seem like a ton of money to you but it is great for me. I work 3 days per week. I spend a TON of time with my 2 year old. I LOVE my job and never wake up stressed nor do I dread Monday’s like I used to. I have been offered many jobs since year 3 and I have turned them all down. The lifestyle is worth more than anything.
Year 5 — I am 2 months into my 5th year in business and I can tell you it will be an amazing year. I am on track to make anywhere between $70k and 100k depending on how my various projects shake out. Business is booming and all that networking and relationship building I have been doing over the years has been paying off in referrals and new business.
I laid it out for you like this because I want you to know the real deal. I am sick of people going into business training programs and courses online and coming out thinking the business will just take off. It is not the courses fault (unless they say in the course that you can replace your income). Usually it is wrong expectations for those who are working on launching their business. Do people find massive success in 6 months of business? Yes. I know some of those people. I follow them online and think they did a wonderful job launching and sustaining their business. It is an inspiration. However, those people are rare. Most people who launch their business are more like me. It will take time and it takes dedication and hard work.
If you are thinking about launching your business or if you are starting to get discouraged I strongly recommend you read this article Growing your business: How long it really takes via Entreprenuer on Fire.
In this article the author talks about an analogy with growing bamboo and how it relates to growing a business. In other words, why it takes time but what is actually happening in that time. Did you know that bamboo grows 80 feet in its 5th year! Wowza! Kind of a great analogy for business right!?!
Time for some tough love: If you are not willing to wait that long and to work that hard then maybe you should stay with your 9 to 5.
On a related note. Today I did my first live broadcast on both Meerkat and Periscope. Here is a recording. Since I am new to this stuff I didn’t record it myself. The recording cuts off the first 5 minutes but there is still some good stuff here. Beware there is some language. I tend to say “shit” a lot when I am excited.
*Source of quote in image: http://donmillereducation.com/journal/the-chinese-bamboo-tree/