There is more to being in business than having a 9 to 5 job. Being your own boss seems idyllic when you are employed, have regular hours and a regular income. Being able to work as and when you want, where you want and how you want is the flexibility you crave when you are employed. Being able to be choosy about the people you work with and the work you do is an exciting prospect.
But that is not reality. Never again will you have a regular income or work regular hours. Unless you are very lucky your income will take a considerable amount of time to reach its former level and regular hours may never exist again. But of course it depends what you want from your business. A change of lifestyle, flexibility and the opportunity to work from home is the reason many start their own business but accepting a downturn in income generally goes with that change.
Being in business is a challenge. There are all sorts of things which you have to do which you will never have had to do before. In the beginning you will learn all about sourcing and managing customers, finding suppliers, managing your cash flow, keeping your accounts, sorting out computer issues, marketing, website design and networking. It is a massive learning curve but, of course, when you start out there is plenty of time to do that. As you get busier trying to fit everything in to your work schedule becomes more and more demanding.
Bank holidays may never again be the 3 days off you looked forward to when you were employed. The extra day when the phone isn't ringing gives you a chance to catch up or spend some time planning where your business is going.
This is when you need to take a look at what you are doing and how you are doing it. Are you being efficient? How much time is it taking you to do the things that you really don't like doing? We all take longer on the tasks that do not come easy to us - if we get round to them that is! Everyone prefers to the do the tasks they like best and forever put off the ones they don't know how to do or dislike.
Whilst it is not easy to outsource tasks in the beginning because of lack of funds there comes a time when you have to assess how much easier it will make your life to pass on a daunting task to someone else, releasing your time to do what you are best at.
When I moved into my office 10 years ago I knew I needed to plan for a network of computers to accommodate what I hoped would eventually be a team of people. I had only ever had two PCs and we transferred data by floppy disc back then. There was no way I knew enough about computers and IT systems to understand what I might need now and for additional capacity later on so my first outsourced service was, of course, IT. My IT has been looked after well by 3 different companies over the last 10 years and they have been on hand to deal with whatever issue has occurred. We need our computers to work when we turn them on, we need our work to be backed up and we need to ensure our IT systems and software are secure. Whilst my IT knowledge has developed substantially over 10 years I know I and my team need someone to call when something doesn't work. We don't waste time trying to sort it out ourselves. It was the best decision I made.
As my business grew I knew that I couldn't do everything myself - although I tried very hard! In order to move the business forward I needed to employ bookkeepers and payroll administrators to work with clients to provide the outsourced service they need to help them move their businesses forward. Recruitment became a task I had never thought about when I first started my business. And even though I am a bookkeeper and work with business accounts on a daily basis I have an accountant for my own business because I value the knowledge and experience they have. Accountants and bookkeepers cover different aspects of finance so both can really add value to a business. Once you decide to get some support for your business whether it is for finance, marketing, IT, HR or some training to enable you to use software better you will find that it adds far more value to your business than you would expect.
It is tough when you are starting out to be able to outsource any aspects of your business because finances are tight and you really don't know what value it will add. Networking is a great opportunity to meet other people in business who have skills that you may find really useful, whether it is a one off task that you need doing or ongoing support with an aspect of your business that you really don't like or don't know how to tackle. Networking enables you to build a relationship before you decide whether to ask for some help and it is surprising the variety of support that is available to business owners.
Being in business is a massive learning curve. It will be far more than you ever thought it could be or would be before you started out. It will consume your every waking moment and even the moments when you thought you were asleep! But it will be worth it because if being in business for yourself and making it work is important to you it will be one of your greatest achievements.
Be proud and celebrate what you have achieved! But don't be too proud to ask for help when you need it.