There was never a doubt that I would own my own online business. I love it and find that the pros far outweigh the cons, but the cons are worth talking about too. This week’s Friday Live with Sierra, Episode #51, dives into what the top 5 great things and the top 5 not so great things about owning a small business are. I want to be able to give any guidance I can to anyone thinking of doing the same, as it can make such a difference to not only your success but also your ability to cope when things get tough.
The Top 5 Great Things About Owning A Business
1. Being creative. I get to be creative in every aspect, from the actual design part to how I decide to market and advertise, to what content I create and on and on. There is never a day without creativity.
2. The Trouties. Meeting and becoming friends with customers has always been my favorite part. A few years ago there was a decision made on FB to call the fans of Manic Trout “trouties” and the enthusiasm with which this was met blew me away. I have met and made wonderful friends through owning a business and would never have been introduced to these awesome ladies otherwise.
3. Having a flexible schedule. I have had many employees over the years; the holiday season that I was in the Real Simple Gift Guide, I think there were 10 at once in the studio! That was a crazy year. What I have discovered though is that one of the main reasons that I love self employment is the flexibility of my work hours. I prefer mornings and nights with a nice break in the afternoon to work out. I volunteer a great deal and enjoy being able to attend meetings with little trouble. These things make it so I now do not want other people in the studio with me and I am able to do that. I love being able to leave if I need to run an errand and the quiet, I love the endless quiet.
4. Pushing my creative muscles. There are of course many ups and downs in all work. However, when it’s your show and you’re doing it alone; all of the bad, the problem solving and the chaos fall onto your shoulders without help. Sure you have a support team of loved ones, but really, it’s up to you to over come obstacles and get out of problems. It really pushes those creative muscles and I love every minute of it!
5. Many different jobs. You’re never bored when self employed. Over the last 15 years I have outsourced most of the jobs at one point, either in house with interns, assistants and employees and out to contracted professionals. I’ve learned what I like to do, what I am good and bad at and the things best left to the pros. It’s never dull and at this point, I’ve done all of the jobs. There is also always something new to learn.
The Top 5 Not So Great Things About Owning A Business
1. Having to be “on” all the time. This was not so much the case 15 years ago, but now, there is no shutting off people getting in touch with you. You are always on and always on call. In fact, on facebook, if you reply to messages longer than a few hours, you get penalized. People want to be able to reach you at all hours, across all platforms. That itself often feels like a full time job and I am constantly forgetting to reply to instagram messages. It’s tough to keep on top of it all!
2. Reaching out. I am an introvert, an outgoing one, but I still prefer to be in a silent studio, alone for most of the day. Having to constantly put myself out there be it in person at a show or through email and social media is exhausting. I end up needed long bursts of down time after shows, the main reason I don’t do them often and I have to fight myself to sign up to do things or send pitches.
3. Doing all the jobs. This was also a positive part, but it’s not so great having to do all of the jobs. Besides being overwhelmed with the volume of things to figure out, I went to art school. Even if I had been wise enough to think of it, the business classes offered at other schools in the University did not fit into our studio schedules. As the case with most artists, I have had to figure out the business side along the way. A long and hard process. You can’t out source a lot of the business side as if it’s your business, you have to do it…otherwise go be a designer for a big brand. If you’re in it for the long haul, it’s just what you have to do.
4. Figuring it all out on your own. Honestly half the time, I have no idea what I’m doing. Sure there are mentors and books and now so many online classes available. It helps. There was much less of that 15 years ago though. About 12 years ago, the online forums started up and that was an immense help, but it’s still you alone, figuring it out most of the time. Making mistakes, failing, winning, throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks, constantly pivoting, doing the work. If you own a business for many years you are constantly trying new and learning more.
5. Stress. So much stress. I went to the doctor recently with a few mild complaints of indigestion. Yeah, that would be a stress and coffee induced ulcer. She asked if I dealt with a lot of stress, I said, I own a business, it’s constant. With a nod of understanding, I was told to reduce my coffee intake and adjust my diet to remove spicy and acidic foods. The stress seemed to be understood that it wasn’t going anywhere. Basically when you own a small business, you think about money all the time. Where it will come from and where it will go. Some days I long for a paycheck to be deposited every week like clockwork. But I always end up deciding that the top 5 good things out weight the not so good every time.