I was recently talking to a group of friends about the highs and lows of entrepreneurship, and remarked that as Little Fish grows, I am constantly reminded that the things I thought would be hard turned out not to be the hardest parts. Everyone around the table agreed. If you’ve been in the game for a minute, you may be nodding your head. If you’re new to the game, read on, as I share with you a couple of items that no one told me.
GOOD HELP REALLY IS HARD TO FIND. It can be difficult to find people to work for you once you realize it’s not just about skill. It’s about timeliness, dedication, loyalty, reliability. There are so many reasons why someone may or may not be a good fit for your team, and it can be hard to tell which is which when you’re just starting to hire. HOW I DEALT WITH IT: I’ve had my share of people who didn’t work out, and what has helped most is to layout a plan or workflow of action as to how you want the business to work. Then you can make a real assessment as how you want the role you’re hiring for to operate in your business. The reality is, some of it is trial and error. You’ll have great interviews and grand ideas, and people won’t meet those expectations, but you’re much better off if you can communicate them to your hire (and yourself).
MONEY IS INCONSISTENT. I know, it’s a fear of many an entrepreneur: will I make enough to carry myself when I am working for myself. Well…maybe. Maybe not. But not knowing how much is coming is all the more reason why you want to stay prepared in advance of the unavoidable lulls that will come at different points throughout the year. HOW I DEALT WITH IT: I saved when I had more, to cover me when I made less. That can be easier said than done, so another tip I’d give is to invoice people properly. You’ve probably heard me rave about cloud accounting, but a big reason is because you can electronically send invoices and request payment immediately via a connected link and payment processor. This helps you avoid leaving money on the table. I also collect money in advance of the service being performed to avoid nonpayment.
TIME MANAGEMENT CAN BE DIFFICULT. The world of entrepreneurship opens a world of flexibility, which somehow leads to you still feeling like you don’t have enough time. When you are a small business (or even a one-person show), you are performing all or most of the roles, which can make it difficult to determine what to spend your time on. HOW I DEALT WITH IT: I learned as I went. I talked to experts on the subject. I tried different methods. And ultimately, I decided that I needed to prioritize my regular tasks, and build in the ad hoc items. That meant that items I had initially made myself available for every day (i.e. discovery calls) had to be limited to specific days and times of the week in order to make time for the other business items that needed my attention.
YOU MAY NOT HAVE COWORKERS, WHICH CAN FEEL LIKE YOU DON’T HAVE PEERS. Not gonna lie - one of the hardest parts about running Little Fish initially was that I didn’t have peers or supervisors. Yes, that means that you get to avoid office politics, but it also means that there is no one to review your work on a regular basis, to check you when you’re responding in a way that doesn’t serve you or your company in the best way. This can feel like a heavy burden on top of everything else you’re trying to juggle. HOW I DEALT WITH IT: I was honest with my community, which led me to be introduced to other entrepreneurs, both in and outside my field. I was able to add to my network, and use my skill in service to help others with the items I’d learned. I also gave myself grace. The reality is, we are not machines. Even with a team, we will make mistakes. You manage any missteps as best you can, and put processes in place to avoid the same situations in the future.
Entrepreneurship is one of the scariest and most rewarding things I’ve ever done. And if all I had to worry about in starting Little Fish was doing accounting work, it would be easy peasy. Hopefully, the above reminders help you feel a bit more prepared about how running your business goes beyond the work you will put out into the world.