Before you embark on an entrepreneurial venture, it is important to prepare yourself as much as possible for what’s to come. I found it to be a mental and physical upheaval and the initial months of working for myself were a huge adjustment.
An unrivaled amount of determination and resolve is needed to get through the first few months while you get the ball rolling. All security that you had whilst employed by someone else is removed at an impeccable speed and everything familiar, safe and guaranteed in business is now non-existent. There were days when I thought I could take over the world and other days when I thought ‘what an earth am I doing here?’
But there is no reward like creating something successful from your own efforts and I can certainly say that starting a business was the best thing I ever did. The satisfaction that a self-made business brings along with the flexibility to manage my own schedule is extremely rewarding. Although there will be many difficult and turbulent periods throughout running your business, there is nothing quite like the adjustment of the first few months. Here are some things that helped me through:
- Find coping mechanisms to deal with the silence. I came from an office of constantly ringing phones and a steady stream of emails coming in so the contrast was a big shock to the system. I developed set tasks that helped fill my time, whether it was pitching for press coverage, writing blogs for my website or updating my contacts database.
- Prepare your friends and family and surround yourself with supportive and dependable people. You are about to embark on a journey like no other and you will need support both emotionally and sometimes financially. I spoke to family and friends beforehand to let me them know I may need their support.
- Accept help from others around you and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Not everyone will come through for you but I was surprised at how many people wanted to support my start-up. No one achieves a successful business completely alone and your friends and family will have skills you can utilize. You may know a photographer who can take your headshot for your website or an accountant who can help with a VAT issue.
- Try and keep your mental and physical health in good shape, as for me this played a major part in surviving those first few months. Exercise, eat well, meditate, keep up your hobbies and see friends. I try and do things that have a positive lasting effect on my mind and body.
- Test out different working environments until you find one that suits you. Co-working spaces are on the rise. Look at teaming up with a friend who also works from home or decamp to your local library or coffee shop. For me, it was a trial and error kind of exercise and it took a little while to find something that worked, but I assessed where I did my most effective work and then tried to make that a permanent fixture.
- Make other entrepreneur friends. This one really helps you keep your sanity. No one can relate to the life of the entrepreneur like other entrepreneurs. No one can understand the grafting, the struggle and the hardship you have to go through to create a business. Having at least one or two people around you who understand that is a massive help. There are many entrepreneur-networking groups out there where you can meet people.
- Have a little faith. Realistically I know that it takes time to build a sustainable business but I often suffer from a case of impatience when assessing the growth and development of my business. Now I make sure I celebrate achievements no matter how small and recognize that things won’t skyrocket over night.
- Will anyone notice if I don’t get out of bed? In the beginning it can be demoralizing knowing that no-one is likely to notice if you don’t ‘show up’ for work today. There is no boss to answer to or colleagues to notice if you’re there and no receptionist to say hello to. But everyday I convinced myself that this would never change unless I got out of bed and tried to make it happen.
- If you have a bad day, don’t beat yourself up. If it’s 3pm and you feel like you can’t go on, your inbox is empty, no one has called all day and you’ve exhausted all your contacts, then read a book, go for a run or just take a break from it all. There will be bad days but the key is to remember there is always tomorrow.
- Stay true to yourself and your values. When I started my business I created a set of values and whenever it came to making big decisions I always came back to these and made sure I didn’t forget the reason I started-up in the first place.
Most of all enjoy the ride! Starting a business can be the most thrilling and exciting experience so don’t forget to find the joy in every working day.