Reality Of Running A Small Business
Small businesses make up 99% of the UK businesses (meaning they have 250 employees or less) and micro businesses account for 96%. 2020 was the year for small business, as the high streets closed and major companies had to shut online and in stores - it really was our time to shine. So many businesses were launched last year, with people staying home and looking for something to fill a void. I feel like it’s important to talk about the reality of owning a small business and dig a little deeper than our Instagram highlights.
From being 8 and sitting outside my house selling my old McDonald’s toys and then selling glitter glasses at 16 when they were all the craze (never wanna touch glitter again😂). The idea of working for somebody else has never appealed too me, I worked 8 years as retail supervisor and can honestly say after I had my first born, I hated EVERY second of it.
If it was easy, then everyone would do it.
Ever since I first started in business in 2018, I have faced so many obstacles. Some that felt like the end of my world, that made me feel so overwhelmed I sank into deep depressive episodes and several anxiety attacks and others where I have found a solution within a few hours. The hard thing is when you have such a raging passion for your business, you genuinely take every setback to heart. Being a perfectionist as well means I’m the worst for constantly not making myself feel like enough if it doesn’t all go smoothly. But the harsh reality is, if you are in business you will know that it’s never smooth sailing. I’ve not heard of one success story in business that hasn’t come without it’s struggles. Running a business is hard work. If it was easy, then everyone would do it.
Work life balance
I’m a firm believe that when you are a business owner, there is no work life balance. I know when people hear me say that, they just assume I spend no time with my family or make time for myself which is far from the truth. Now I have my outside workspace, I try and make sure I free up every weekend and most evenings after the school run too get a break away from work. (Before this I was working CONSTANTLY, but not as productively). That being said, any other passionate business owners will know that you never switch off from work. Even if I’m in the bath I’ll be researching new ideas, making new designs or even writing a blog post (literally writing this one in my bath after the kids have gone to bed). You are constantly thinking about work, if the kids ask me questions I can still be thinking about a problem that’s happened earlier today and how I’m going too fix it, or an order I really need to dispatch, and I have to snap back into the real world.
People don’t fully understand when you struggle with the work life balance because you LOVE your job and because you choose to have an unbalance. My job is my hobby, I enjoy what I do. It helps me relax (when I’m not snowed under with hundreds of orders haha). Imagine something that really makes you feel happy like reading a book or going to a spa on your day off from work, then imagine if somebody said why are you doing that? Even though it makes you feel happy and content. Most people don’t understand because they don’t absolutely love their jobs. The don’t want to rush back to work on a Monday morning and get back at it, they’d much rather by still at the spa or reading that book. Whereas my work is the equivalent of me reading a book AT the spa.
I hadn’t quiet grasped the concept of sacrifice as much as I should’ve until the lockdowns. Yeah, I had sacrificed an early night or a lie in just to get some work done before but I feel like I fully understand sacrifice now. There’s so many things I would happily give up if it meant I could spend time working on myself and my business. The only thing I wouldn’t sacrifice my time with would be my family.
I’ve had times where my friends have had to come round whilst I’m still working and I’ve not managed to stop and even sit down with them. And the people who understand will be there and unfortunately the people who don’t, won’t. Missing out on things is something I’m no longer afraid off.
I’ve said goodbye to my security by leaving my long term, stable job. Instead of my weekly wage dripping into my account each week, I instead rely on orders to get by. By getting by I mean pay for my food shop, my house, kids activities etc. Literally everything. Another reason why I love my customers so much and appreciate every order. This was the hardest decision that I’ve ever made business wise up too now, but one of the best. Some weeks, even months have been awful especially when the high street reopened. On the flip side, no longer having to work on my goals like they are a second option, whilst making another business money has given me freedom to expand my business which I never would’ve had working for anybody else.
One of the most unexpected things about running a business is just how incredibly lonely it can be. And I’m not fully talking about sitting in a shed all day, listening to a podcast and talking to yourself because your the only person there - that bit I quite enjoy, sometimes. Although it is isolating when you’re used to a busy working environment and talking to multiple different people every day. I’m talking about the massive amount of people who take a step back when you run your own business. SO many people that I always expected would support me, never ever show support towards my business. Friends and family. I think out of around 850 “friends” on my Facebook around 100 of them actually like my page. Why as a society are we so afraid of cheering on the people around us? I’m not just talking about even purchasing from me (although that helps😂) but even tagging somebody in something that they might like, giving a post a share or sending my website to somebody who might really like my things. In the Self-Employment Review conducted by Julie Deane, the founder of Cambridge Satchel Company in the UK, isolation was cited as one of the biggest challenges faced by business owners and sole traders, with almost 30 percent of respondents saying that it was either “a big problem” or “something of a problem”.
There are so many other areas I could talk about for hours in regards to running a business so if you would like to read more just let me know by popping a comment.
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