Updated: Feb 17
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There's a lot of stuff out there about the beauty of having your own business. We're watching these people on Instagram creating content and making $10,000 months or suddenly becoming a millionaire and we get so caught up in the glamor of it that we forget that running a business is hard.
Which is why today I want to talk about the unglamorous part of business. The parts that no one wants to talk about because it's not sexy. Here's my experience.
I graduated with my bachelors in graphic design from Latrobe University in Australia in 2015. Since then I have always ran my freelance graphic design business as a side hustle alongside a 9 to 5 job.
It wasn't until September 2021 right before the birth of my son when I decided it was the right time to go all in on my design business. And man it's been a crazy ride so far.
I'm going to be super transparent and say that I did not find the secret to making $10,000 months in fact. 2022 was the first year where I relied solely on my own business income and it was definitely a hard year financially.
Which social media only showing the highlights of a business hardships are significantly downplayed.
Inconsistent flow of money
When I had a full time job the consistency of my 9 to 5 income was something consistent I could rely on.
But when it comes to my business some months are absolutely amazing and I'm fully booked and I'm paying the bills with a little extra on the side. The slower months which for me is normally around the holidays is the hardest lull to push through.
The importance of your why
I would be lying if I said I never thought about quitting my business, putting my son into day care and finding a 9 to 5 job with a consistent income. But my why is what keeps me going. Your why is reason you keep moving forward instead of quitting.
If you take away anything from today it should be figuring out your why. Really dig down deep and ask yourself why you started your business in the first place. Time freedom? Being able to work from home? Become financially free?
My why is having the freedom to work from home while being able to watch my son. I also enjoy being able to choose my projects, setting my own prices and being in charge of my day.
I know sometimes things will be tough but remembering my why and knowing that I am working toward a bigger goal, crossing my fingers to finally save up for a house, keeps me believing that with drive and consistency everything will work out in the future.
After a full year on my own income I'm now realizing that my paycheck is solely based on the clients that I bring in. Which is why in 2023 I'm focusing on marketing. The saying if you build it they will come is definitely not true. They will only come if you put yourself out there and let people know what you do. Which I know can feel icky and awkward at first. Trust me I know the feeling it wasn't until seeing how much I made last year that pushed me over the edge to finally start getting the confidence to market myself.
In this season I'm working on unpaid marketing, by creating long form content through a podcast and blogging. It will take longer to see the results, probably months, hopfuly not years, in comparison to paid advertising but I'm hoping once it gets momentum I won't have to worry about paid marketing as much.
2022 was filled with a lot of budgeting. I had to take a second look at my finances and cut out things that I could live without both business and personal. If I could 2022 over again I would be smarter with my investments. There were probably some online courses that I didn't need right at that moment. It's been a humbling experience so far but like I said earlier my why keeps me pushing through.
My 1st year full time in my business was also my first year as a mom. Not gonna lie I was very naive before I had my son and I thought that it would be easy to work between his naps but boy I was wrong.
Not only were his naps almost not existent in the beginning being around 20 minutes but when he started napping for an hour and a half at a time it was hard for me feel accomplished. I just felt like I was a chicken with their head cut off trying to figure out what to do first.
It wasn't until I started a system that helped me plan out my day.
This for me is a spreadsheet with time running down the left side of the sheet vertically from 7am To 6pm and the days of the week on top and horizontally. What I do is block out all the times in red where I know I won't be at my computer, like 7am-11am when Fletcher and I are getting up, making breakfast and having play time before his nap.
Then I schedule my work hours in green and plan what projects I will be doing during that day and for how long. Something as simple as planning out my day or week ahead has been super beneficial and I finally was able to get things checked off my on my list and I felt good about it.
The comparison game
Being your own boss is hard. It's hard not to compare yourself with other businesses. Instagram was a big trigger for me for a while. I would see other business's being able to post consistently, create reels, talk on stories and I felt bad that I couldn't keep up. I actually took a long break from Instagram for my mental health.
Which you know sometimes that's just something you have to do. I don't find anything wrong with Instagram I just really needed that mental break. So if you ever find yourself in the same place as me I definitely understand where you're coming from and a break will be good for you.
Your followers aren't going to suddenly forget about you, the algorithm will forgive you. Sometimes you just need to step back and think about what really moves the needle in your business and most of the time that's not going to be Instagram so taking a break is 100% okay. If you find that you are comparing yourself to others maybe it's time to put down you phone.
And there you have it. The journey about my first year diving into my business full time. Nothing sexy or glamorous about it. No blood but a little bit of sweat and quite a bit of tears. If you've resonated with any part of my journey please feel free to DM me on Instagram my handle is Z Squared Studio. I'll leave a link in my shownotes and I would love to share our experiences together. Do a bit of networking and make some business friends! Let's learn from each other, maybe even do some collaborations! I'm always down for that. Until next time I'll talk to you later.