What Surprised Me Most as a New Entrepreneur

In this post I share a few things no one told me about being a new entrepreneur, along with a few strategies I use to manage the overwhelm.  

Last Spring, I officially transitioned from my corporate job to life as an entrepreneur. A friend recently asked me if my “new life” was what I expected. My answer was yes, and no. I work part-time so that I can also stay home with my young son. This plan was by design and I wouldn’t change it for anything, but that doesn’t mean the transition has been easy. Even though I was prepared in theory for the transition, nothing really prepared me for the transition emotionally. Here are a few of the challenges I experienced over the past year as a new entrepreneur and “stay at home” home.

The loneliness. I love working from home and giving up years of awful commutes to work at home on my own schedule was a dream come true. I have never been as focused or productive as I’ve been now that I can work on my own time in the way that suits me best. The downside? The day to day of my business life can get very lonely. Because I was spending hours commuting into an office every day my social life was built around the convenience of being in a city, away from where I live. I failed to realize how difficult it would be to see friends who now had different schedules than me. And the local mom friends I thought I would make taking my son to regular toddler activities? They didn’t come as quickly as I expected either. It turns out it’s a lot harder to have a meaningful conversation when you’re keeping one eye on your little one at the playground. (Who knew, right? ;-0)

After a few tearful conversations with my husband that generally went, “You don’t understand, you go to work and talk to grown ups all day while I talk to a toddler about trucks and baseball…” I finally realized it was up to me to go out and make some new friends to compliment my new routine. It’s a work in progress, but it’s comforting to know I have awesome women nearby I can lean on when I just. can’t. take. another. tantrum that day.

Saying goodbye to a regular paycheck is hard. Intellectually I already knew this and we planned for it. But it is still challenging to adjust emotionally. It’s one thing to give up my designer handbag purchases for the sake of building a business I love. It’s a whole other thing to realize that giving up my regular income meant I was reliant on someone else to provide for me. This was a big emotional trigger for me that I had completely forgotten about. Once upon a time after a difficult breakup, I swore I would never rely on anyone else again. And then I worked for over a decade to keep that promise to myself. I have the most supportive and wonderful partner in life. But that did not make it any easier for me to face those old triggers.

My brain will not shut off! I didn’t think I could ever be as tired as I was when I had a newborn. Then I chased my entrepreneurship dream. Obviously, it’s different now. I’m sleeping and I’m not recovering from childbirth. But mentally? I’m exhausted. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, I am thinking about some aspect of my business and what I want to do next. It’s exhilarating to care so much about a business that I cannot stop talking to myself about it; but I also had to learn how to protect myself from mental burn out. It’s a serious juggling act and I’m still working on solutions.

By doing so many things on any given day, I often feel like I am doing nothing. Seriously. I spend my day juggling my health and fitness quest with spending quality time with my son and husband, creating a business and executing on my ideas; along with managing my household, caring for my home, exploring other intellectual and personal pursuits; spending time with friends and family; volunteering; planning epic trips for the future….you get it, I’m doing a lot. As I know anyone reading this is, too. My problem is, I often feel like I’m failing at it all. My solution? I coach myself to practice what I teach every day. I focus on the highest priority tasks, I organize my time and minimize distractions, and I check in with myself frequently to make sure I’m pursuing the right goals. I also lean on my husband, my girlfriends, and an occasional weekday Netflix binge to keep myself sane.

Imposter syndrome is real, and it’s rough. Because of how I sometimes feel (see number 4 above) it can be hard not to fall into unproductive thought cycles. The ugliest one is around the belief that I don’t yet have everything in my life and business running perfectly, so how could I help others? This is nonsense and I know it; intellectually. But if I let that little voice of doubt creep in, it can become crippling. When I get stuck in a negative thought pattern I remind myself why I do the work that I do. I remind myself that I have already helped so many people, and I know I can help more. I talk to myself instead of listening to myself. And sometimes I take a break. I ignore the internet and social and all my “I should be’s…” and I just let myself be. And when I give myself that space and grace to be comfortable in who I am, I find myself again ready to embrace the possibility of what I can achieve if I just take that next actionable step to move my goals forward.

There have been some surprises along the way, but that keeps things interesting. I can’t wait for the year ahead.

What about your entrepreneurial journey? I want to hear about your experience. Can you relate or are you considering a change now? Let me know in the comments!

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