The Underbelly of Entrepreneurship

Live the life you’ve always wanted. Work from anywhere. Build a 6 figure business within a year. Follow your passion. Quit your day job. Don’t quit your day dream. Unless you’ve been living far, far away from your social media channels, these phrases have filled your Facebook ads and news feeds. If you’ve ever given thought about starting your own business, these ideas feel amazing. But at what cost does running a profitable business take.
Stats tell us that depression and anxiety is rampant in the entrepreneur space. It’s for good reason. There’s so much no one talks about in this industry. Today we’re opening up the veil and the underbelly of entrepreneurship.

Everything comes with a true and real cost.

Time off, self care, shutting off your phone, saying no. With everything there is implicit risk and pressure. No one pays you to simply show up, rather you are paid to continually produce results for others. Regardless of the business, production becomes forefront rather than simply being. Creativity? Even if your field is one that is innately creative, do you have permission or rather feel the need to appeal to the requests of your client. You are the one who both determines your income and pushes yourself creatively. There is no one else to do it for you.

Money? Yup we’re going there.

What if with every contract, you accessed a value to your time, for the transformation you bring, for the worth of your skill set. For most entrepreneurs this is apart of the daily grind. On top of an hourly rate, taxes, health care, retirement, and monthly expenses are all factored in. That and when do you start to turn down a case load or bring on additional employees. At what point do you say no and begin to reclaim your personal life knowing your capacity, also knowing you will possibly see the money walk away. Most of us didn’t get start a business because we loved generating sales or leads. Rather we got into it, because the product or service was something we loved. When it comes to conversations surrounding money and pricing, convincing someone of the value our offering brings to their life, it can quickly feel exhausting.

Emotions, they’re a roller coaster ride.

One of the most taboo things to talk about as an entrepreneur are the matters of the heart. As an entrepreneur your world is largely uncharted territory for your community. Some months you don’t know if you’re financially going to make it. Other days you are running around being a bill collector. You have great potential client conversations and they can just as quickly ghost. I know of days where I can feel easily at the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.

Wins can go uncelebrated.

This can feel trite and petty. I realize that I’m writing this statement and the way it can be perceived. Let me provide an example. A few weeks ago, I was featured on a pretty major guest blog post. When I found out I was sitting alone in church. (This isn’t uncommon as a go to a pretty large church and there are multiple services on a weekend.) I get an email about my post being approved. Internally I want to scream. This felt like a big break after a long and super hard summer in business. However, there was no one around that could relate to the win. They didn’t get it. My world was wildly different than most I was sitting among. I was so excited, yet all those who could celebrate with me were a phone call or text away. While a celebration ensued later that evening with a friend, it was an odd afternoon at best. It’s easy to feel like no one understands your world. That it’s too far off and empathy is the best you can expect out of someone. I’ve leaned into developing a local tribe of business owners and creatives, people who speak the same language I do, and who understand my world. I long for the days when this community is less transient and has more solidarity to it.

It can be incredibly lonely.

Last year, I was able to see my work impact and add value to others. This year, workflow is far more remote. I don’t get to see client’s faces when launch day happens. It’s the Christmas Morning for business owners. When their events happen, when services see results, and their brand message become clear and reaches their ideal customer. It truly is the best. However, no longer having a physical location or working within an office, I’m largely separated from the transformation my work brings. Rave reviews come in the form of an approval email and a paid invoice. Not much else. This is why I believe in co-working spaces so strongly. They provide spaces for connection, making one another better, education, and most importantly the ability to empathize with like minded people.
Other days when both living and working from home, it can feel wildly lonely. (I often go to a coffee shop, listen to a podcast, or turn on Gilmore Girls just to have human stimulus within the same space.)

Your business doesn’t stop regardless of what is going on in your personal life.

I think I experienced this one most clearly this summer when needing to evacuate due to natural disaster. As I was frantically doing laundry, packing up all my belongings, and paying bills, I had to make quick calls to clients. (I have a clause covering this in my contract, yet I only use it when absolutely necessary. I feel ridiculously guilty any time I need to use it.) In the calls, I explained my level of ownership, what was happening and started the 10 hour drive to family in Seattle. As soon as I got to my hotel that night with tears streaming down my face, the blue light from my laptop shone back. It didn’t matter what I was feeling in that moment or what I had just experienced over the past 5 hours.  Work still needed to be done.

In this space, relationships and networking have incredible equity.

Relationships aren’t just relationships. They function as potential referrals, moving forward, and your livelihood improve. Millennials can typically struggle in traditional network settings and business meet ups. (I’ve totally been there.) Instead I’ve chosen to invest richly and deeply into the relationships I have. Both locally and online, I’ve found incredible encouragement from others in the same space. From women and men who have been exactly where I am currently. I have dinners of creatives in my city, to gather, to have conversations, and to build relationships past potential leads.

Boundaries are hard.

Take this space for example. It’s a lifestyle blog. What goes on the blog and what stays apart of my life? What is curated and what remains raw, loose, and messy? Is every meal made also shot and tested with a recipe in mind? When you work from home, where (and when) does work end and home begin? What most entrepreneurs won’t tell you is they’ve exchanged a forty hour workweek for one that is filled with 80 hours of work and far more pressure behind it. (We’re not all singing “My Way” by Frank Sinatra as we’re doing it, either.) I recently asked someone about how they were doing. A fellow entrepreneur, we co-work together often. Their response, “Right now I don’t have a social life. I’d like to see myself again.” Here’s the honest truth: when you can work from anywhere, you simultaneously take your work with you everywhere.
So why do we do it? Why is entrepreneurship worth it? Great question. I’m glad you asked. I’ve learned more about myself, grown in confidence, learned painful lessons, climbed the highest of heights, gone to the lowest of lows, yet I’ve learned about the power of resilience. I’ve learned about the beauty of community, of vulnerability, and the stunning nature of impact. Empires and movements aren’t born in a day and rarely can be contained in a 9-5. Everyday I wake up excited to take a 10 second commute, grab a cup of coffee, and find myself inspired by 8 AM.

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  • Love this post! These are things a lot of entrepreneurs don’t talk about. We all like to focus on the bright and shiny. But being an entrepreneur takes some serious commitment. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you so much Kami! I wanted to start having honest conversations surrounding this topic. There’s some days where it’s bright and shiny. There are others where it’s definitely not, right?!? So happy you liked it!