In this three-part blog series, I’m talking about what it’s like to run a business – from the good to the bad to everything in between. In part 2, I’m unfortunately going to have to talk about the bad side. And it can get pretty bad if you’re not careful.
If you missed it, or just feel like a bit of positivity before we dive in here, check out Part 1 – The Good.
These things are based on my experience and conversations I’ve had with business owners over the years. This could be several blog posts all on their own, but I’m going to try and keep it fairly succinct (in comparison)!
Owning and growing your own business will affect your body, mind, relationships and finances – and not always in a positive way!
You are going to go through the mill, and it’s going to affect everything.
There have been moments in my life where I’ve been physically affected. I have literally had to go to hospital because I’ve not been well. I got psoriasis on my legs caused by stress. There’s also been tons of other stuff: lack of sleep, headaches, and just physically not feeling well.
Then there’s the psychological and mental health side of running a business. It’s going to put you in bad moods, you’re going to have mood swings, and they say that most entrepreneurs are bipolar in some way or other.
You can’t hide from stress as a business owner
So, it’s going to affect you. The more you do it, the longer you go at it, the harder the times you go through, it’s going to have a massive negative effect. No matter how positive you are, no matter how much of a front you put on with other people and tell them that everything’s okay – I promise you, it will affect you in some form or other.
You’ll never be prepared for it, but you need to be able to deal with it at some level, otherwise the wheels will come off.
There’s being stressed, constantly putting out fires, feeling anxious and many other feelings that will then affect your health. For me, that’s one of the most important parts – you have a lot of that back-to-back for years and years, and suddenly, it has a full effect on your mental and physical wellbeing. You’re going to feel drained.
I’ve always been positive throughout my entire life, bouncing off the walls with a glass half-full. Even now! However, after a while of going through some really tough times, it does still have an effect.
Nevertheless, I am self-aware enough to realise that, and I’m better at coping with it now than I was 10 years ago. I wish I knew then what I know now – there are more important things in life than just business and clients and staff, so don’t overstress when you don’t need to overstress.
Plus, another big problem of mine was focusing on the little things that just don’t matter. Let go! Concentrate on the bigger and more important stuff.
People around you are going to think you’re a dreamer
Growing a successful business is actually working a miracle. The stats are so heavily stacked against anyone in business – a lot of businesses fail within the first year, two years or three years.
Therefore, getting anywhere beyond that is a miracle. And people see that! Whatever it is that you’re doing, people will look at you and say, ‘Yeah, you’re a dreamer’ – even family! And you’ve got to be alright with that.
You will never be satisfied
You will never feel like you’re in control and your business will never be 100% as you want it to be, and that will frustrate the hell out of you.
Even if you’re the most relaxed or organised person, it will come and bite you at some point. There are forces out of your control that will shape your business, and it will become a self-evolving beast at some point. You’ll obviously have some control over it, but there are significant parts of the business that you don’t – and us business owners are control freaks!
(Slight disclaimer: not everybody is a control freak, but I would say that most people running a business are. There we go, I’m putting my neck on the line and making a bold statement there!)
What has given me the biggest headaches – and nearly led me to give up?
It’s pretty much everything.
Losing control of your own time
This is a big, big deal and only gets worse the bigger you get. People are pulling you in all different directions and your calendar looks like a mishmash of utter nonsense that you have no control over.
Listen, we all read those books about time management and taking control of your time – but it’s nearly impossible to take full control of your diary if you’re running a business. I don’t care what book you’re reading or what procedures you have in place, time management is out of your control!
Yes, you’ll get to a certain size where you are able to control your diary a bit more, but for the most part, it’s just an absolute, utter mess.
Things taking longer than expected
I’m probably a few years behind where I actually wanted to be at this moment in time, and I just have to deal with that. Again, it’s things that have been out of my control that have affected the growth of the business, but it’s frustrating. You have to be patient. Even though, generally speaking, I am quite a patient person, the older I get I’m just thinking ‘I just need this to happen already!’
I find myself being frustrated most of the time
Even though there are many aspects of the business that I want to tweak and improve, there are so many moving parts that making even the smallest change can feel like pushing an elephant up a hill.
When you get to a certain size, things do start to take a little longer to implement as there are so many considerations at stake. Even though you’re the ‘boss’, to bring in new ideas, you’ve still got to go through a process. You can’t just throw things at staff and expect them to pivot as much as you might pivot in business. So, you’ve got to follow the process.
I find it really difficult to switch off
This can be a good thing and it can also be a really bad thing. I don’t mind thinking about business – I enjoy business! I have my best ideas at nighttime, when I’m asleep and when I wake up in the morning. It’s just random – so to switch off means that I could potentially be losing out on those ideas.
However, not being able to switch off at bedtime or during days off, evenings, the weekends or holidays can pose a problem. I can’t afford to be away from the business for any period of time. If I wanted to take a break, it would be impossible for me to do that with the business that I have right now.
Despite this, the business is getting closer and closer to that point where it can run itself without me being around – for at least a few weeks or so. Although my staff would be convinced that they could cope without me for more than a few weeks, the truth is, that’s just not the case.
Working in the business instead of on it
A couple more hires and some more coaching here and there, and we are not a million miles away from me being able to step back just a little bit. For example, to have a bit of ‘me’ time or to work on the business instead of in the business – and I’m looking forward to that moment more than anything.
It will be amazing just to see the team working together as a well-oiled machine without me having to get too involved – which can sometimes upset the apple cart, because I don’t always make the right decisions.
So, that’s the ‘bad’ – and again, there are a lot more negative things that can happen in business. So, be prepared for that if you’re thinking about setting up a business – just tiptoe in!
Thank you for reading this chapter of the Diary of an Entrepreneur. I must stress, I’m not trying to teach you anything. I’m just sharing my journey, and if it motivates you, then great – job done!
If you want to hear more about my entrepreneurial journey, check out the Diary of an Entrepreneur podcast on all available platforms – I talk all things business in terms of my OWN journey and experience. It’s not one to miss!