It’s 8:14PM on a Thursday. Before I started this blog post, I stared off into space for about 20 minutes, trying to think of something new I could accomplish in the next hour that would help Design by Laney grow. Something, anything to help us generate leads, close leads we already have, or make our process flows more efficient. I came up with nothing.
Now that can’t be true, because I sure as hell am not perfect. There’s gotta be more. There are literal worlds of thought I haven’t even begun to explore for Design by Laney, and yet, I came up with nothing. Some days that’s just how it goes. Some days, you take a nap at 7:30 in the morning, because being awake is a little too much. Some days, your clients hate everything you create, and some days you send out 4 proposals and don’t book any of them. And sometimes, all of these things happen in the same week, and you have to call it a “learning experience” because that’s the social(media)ly acceptable way to talk about your mistakes.
A couple of months after going full time, I had a friend ask me about it, because she was interested in making the jump too. I wrote her back immediately, and 20 minutes into that email, I realized that I had just written a giant, terrifying list. No one in their right mind would want to quit their day job after talking to me. The email went something like this:
Insurance is hella expensive!?? I’m just trying not to die.
What are taxes?
My puppy just chewed up my sample prints…
I don’t know who I am as a person, let alone as a business.
I know where I want to be in 10 years, but what on earth am I supposed to do until 5pm today?
Every job ends up costing me too much somehow.
People are mean!
I hyperventilated yesterday because these $350 prints turned out terribly, and it basically means I’m a failure as a human.
My boyfriend thinks I’m nuts and I keep yelling at him about invitations.
I should get a part time job. I’m getting a part time job.
All of these things were true then, and most of them are sometimes still true. I have learned to keep sample prints above Bodie’s chewing level, but sometimes I still sit down for 20 minutes and come up absolutely empty.
We try to show the world the good parts, the pretty parts of our business, because it seems like what we’re supposed to do. You picture going full time as an artist and just creating beautiful things all day, posting on Instagram, and having “business lunches” with your friends while looking fresh and happy and perfectly quaffed all the time. Sure, that’s part of the job too, but the truth that people don’t talk about as much is that it’s also equal parts never changing out of your yoga pants, fighting through imposter syndrome, and a to-do list that grows way faster than it shrinks.
So we’ve listed a ton of reasons you definitely should not start your own business, and yet here we are today. That email I mentioned earlier was 95% about how things were confusing and difficult, and how much I wished someone would help me over all the speed bumps along the way, and yet it ended with “This feels like it was a lot of negative to say that I LOVE IT. And you will not miss the #desklife for even a second!” I was really cool back then…! But years later, this is how I still answer this question - a ton of reasons not to, followed by that tiny bit of pure positivity.
I list the negatives because they’re real. They’re true and they’re never going to go away. You’re still on your own most of the time, and with every hurdle you jump over, there’s an even bigger one to tackle behind it. But if you can jump over those hurdles, if you have the patience, the self-awareness, and the drive (and yes, some creative talent is usually required), there’s a new list that grows more slowly, and means a lot more, filled with things like:
I get to watch my puppy grow up (and babies, when it comes to that!)
I can work out whenever I want.
I built something from scratch, and survived.
My boyfriend still thinks I’m nuts, but for fewer work-related reasons, so that’s good.
We’ve had the privilege to have been a part of over 100 Love Stories
I said no to a client, and it was great!
Insurance is part of my normal monthly budget, which I understand allllmost 100% these days.
We get to teach people so that they can learn from our mistakes.
This business can have a positive impact on the world around me.
Entrepreneur life isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay, but some of us are driven that way for any number of reasons. For me, it’s mostly about the fact that every action I take drives how successful I’m going to be (and boy is this a complicated double-edged sword). For others, it’s about spending time with their families, making money, having autonomy over their schedules, creating what they want to create. If you’re on the entrepreneur train, then first of all, you are not alone, and second of all, just remember that one reason that’s your driving force. So whenever you’re stressed about tax season, or cancelling plans to work on a Friday night, and it seems like all the reasons not to start your own business are piling up, that voice in your head is reminding you of the only reason that matters - which is why you should.