There are ways that working for myself is both surprising and everything that I expected. It’s easier in some ways and harder in others, and there is a constant wheel of information from people we know (and people we don’t) telling us what it is going to or supposed to feel like. Everyone’s journey is going to look different, but I want to share with you three things that it would have been helpful to know before I started Little Fish.
1. Long Days and Nights are Not Forever.
I talked about this in the You Are Not a Machine post, but I took in a lot of the language around entrepreneurship being made of struggle. I embraced the idea that it would always be hard and likely all-consuming. And so I worked. A LOT. Long days and weeks turned into crazy months that I looked back at and wondered where my real life went. And while that seems to be the story of a lot of us, I wish I had realized earlier that it wasn’t necessary. By investing in a team and a coach, I was able to give myself quite a bit of time back and start to enjoy my world outside of work. Making an intentional goal to hire help as soon as possible could literally change your life.
2. Hiring is hard. Delegating is too.
I KNOW. I just told you to bring on help. But know that this process is rarely simple or quick. You have to know what you want. Depending on what it is, you may have to know how to do it so that a team member can take it over for you. And you have to hire the right person for the role. And I did ALL of that wrong. I was confused about what I needed because I felt so underwater that I just wanted someone to come on and help me. But how? Which means I made a few wrong hires, and spent a good bit of money replacing or shifting people to get them to what I wanted. I didn’t have procedures written, so everything being in my head made it so that I felt it might be easier for me to “just do it”, while resenting the people who weren’t taking it off my plate. You know what helped? Two things: 1. I hired an amazing operations manager who just took things that I couldn’t articulate and fixed them for me. She handles the back-end so that I can focus on the parts that only I can do, and heavy lifts the systems so that I can focus on the client experience. (I cannot wait to introduce you all to the team soon!) 2. I hired HR help. I didn’t even know I needed it but when we brought on Sprout HR, they helped us make sure the right people were in the right roles AND create job descriptions for the new roles we needed. Not only did it help with bringing on new team members, it also helped me to determine what I could take off of my plate. Both of these decisions have allowed me to properly stand in my role as CEO, and give the rest to the people I trusted to hire. Also, a regular mantra that I got from Ticora Davis: What can I delegate today? Turns out, a whole effing lot.
3. It’s Better on the Other Side of Fear.
Before I quit my job to go full-time with entrepreneurship, I was SO scared. What if I didn’t “make it”? What if I couldn’t earn enough? What if I failed? Well, actually I realized that only one of two options was possible: either entrepreneurship would work and I’d stick it out, or I’d get another job. Either way, I couldn’t lose. (Spoiler alert: entrepreneurship worked :) But I had to try. I made a very calculated risk - I saved as much money as possible, I kept maxing out my 401(k), and I quit during tax season which I knew would be my highest earning part of the year. And I left. And I am better for it. But if I’m honest, I didn’t know that then. I kept going on and on in my head about all the things that could go wrong, and it delayed my decisions months past the point that I could have shifted. And while I don’t blame myself for it, and I believe everything happens in its time, I also wish I’d had more confidence in myself. Even if I still made the decision on the same date, I had an option to believe in myself and what I was capable of instead of doubting myself the whole way. Now, on the other side, I know that I was always able, even when I didn’t know it yet.
All in all, I’ve learned a lot running a business, and I know that more lessons are on their way. In the meantime, I’m proud of what I have accomplished so far, how my team has supported me, and all of the decisions I’ve made to get me here. As far as I’m concerned, part of that privilege comes with an obligation to share what I’ve learned to help support other small business owners. We’re all in this together.
Cheers to us 🥂