Honest Hour – What it’s really like being an entrepreneur

I think a lot of people misconceive what it’s like running businesses from home. Most people see running a business as a luxurious thing. We get to work from the comforts of home, choose our own hours (supposedly), and we get to be our own boss. We don’t have to answer to anyone.

I won’t lie, those things are a luxury that I am grateful for. I absolutely love working from home. It is one of the many rewarding aspects of running your own business. However, there are many challenges that come with being an entrepreneur that people don’t typically think about or realize. 

The Misconception

Often times, people think that our day consists of lounging around at home, watching TV, playing video games among other leisurely things. But that’s simply not the case. Our businesses are not successful and profitable because we sit at home and do nothing each day. We spend hours upon hours each day working to deliver what we promise our clients.

Working from home is great too, especially during the winter time when leaving the house in the freezing cold is the last thing I want to do. However, it usually means being confined to the house for many hours every day. 

We also don’t really get to choose our own hours. At least, not at first. To run a successful business you have to be willing to sacrifice the majority of your time. The saying is true about shedding blood, sweat, and tears. Mostly sweat and tears due to the daily stressors that result from running a business.

Overall, being my own boss is great. I don’t have anyone to answer to which is another luxury. But that can be, and is, a double edged sword. I am the only person holding myself accountable. If I slack off, there’s no one here to tell me that I am doing so. I have to keep myself in check which can be hard to do. Honestly, there are some times where I even go as far as justifying why it’s okay that I didn’t do much work one day, or why a client can wait until tomorrow to get a response. 

It’s Stressful, and Stress Takes a Toll

It’s to no one’s surprise that I’m a, would you call, “stresser outer?” Not really a word, but that describes what I am. I stress and I overthink. It’s something that I ask God to help me with each and every day. So naturally, running a business comes with it’s own amount of stress.

Stress takes a toll on the body, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I’ve had migraines for almost as long as I can remember, and they used to start 5-7 days every week. I was completely miserable. They kept me up at night, stopped me from being able to enjoy doing things with friends and with my husband, and just overall caused me to have a lesser quality of life. I blame 50% of my headaches on stress, majority coming from running a business. 

I would also be so consumed in running my business that my spiritual walk with God would take a toll. I had to learn how to make room for God, especially since he was and is the source of my success.

It is important that you learn how to deal with stress, especially when you’re a business owner. Burnout is real, and can destroy your business. You don’t ever want to get so stressed out that you subconsciously give up on your business. Blog post coming soon about how I deal with stress. 

The Responsibility is Tough

For me, the hardest part about running my businesses is being the one that everyone relies on. Not only do the clients depend on me to deliver an amazing product and service, but even though both of my businesses are small, I also have a couple employees that depend on me to make this business work. They have families that depend on the income they receive from working for me. 

Running a business is a lot of responsibility. As I mentioned, it takes a lot of dependability, as well as persistence and determination. I don’t ever want to let anyone down, and there’s always the risk that you can and will. 

Please don’t be scared to start a business!

I wanted to make this blog post to bring awareness to what it’s really like to run a business. This is just the surface level. However, I don’t want to steer anyone away from starting a business. 

What I want to do is prepare you and shed light on some of the challenges that come with being an entrepreneur. It is not easy and so no one should ever start a business with the mindset that it will be easy and successful overnight. It takes time and consistency. 

And if you are already an entrepreneur, don’t ever let anyone make you feel like your work is not important, or like you’re less than. Your job is not easy.

I see you, I hear you, I am you, and I am with you. 

Why I quit school to become an entrepreneur

It’s crazy to reminiscing about where I’ve come from and how all of this started. Without boring you too much, let me share with you how I became a successful business owner at 15 years old.

I’m Frugal!

I’ve always been a thrifty spender. I almost never bought anything new for myself. My first instinct was always “second-hand.” Two of my favorite places to shop were Goodwill and Uptown Cheapskate. I was always able to find the trendiest clothing for a quarter of the price. Being frugal was something I actually learned from my mom.

Another habit I had (and still have) is hoarding clothing that I don’t wear. I think a lot of women can relate to that! I was also a big Instagram nerd. I would literally spend hours a day, constantly searching for clothing I could buy online from people across the States. I eventually convinced my mom to let me buy different pieces from different Instagram sellers.

And So It Began

It seems like out of no where, I woke up one day and decided that I would start selling my own clothes on Instagram. It wasn’t widely supported, especially from peers at my old church which thankfully, I no longer attend (story for another time).

I started making $10-$20 per sale after taxes, processing fees, and shipping. It was great to have since I was taking college classes on NC State campus at just 14-15 years old. The extra cash was great. Eventually though, I ran out of stuff to sell!

My mom realized that I was making a lot of money just selling my own clothes. We decided we would try shopping and reselling. It was the best decision we could’ve made. We would take around $200-$300 each week, invest them in cute finds from the Goodwill and other consignment stores, and turn it into $600 profit. At 15 years old, I was making upwards of around $2400 just from buying and reselling clothing on Instagram.

You’re probably groaning in your head thinking “Oh great, another ‘get rich quick’ scheme.” Nope. Just telling you exactly how I got to where I am today.

Anyways, I found myself marketing my products with Facebook and Instagram ads. I did “shoutout for shoutout” posts with other similar shops, participated in what we call “follow trains,” and eventually started joining in giveaways, all with hopes of marketing my small shop and increasing my sales. Honestly, I got really good at it.

College + Entrepreneurship

When I finally did get accepted and moved into my college dorm at NCSU, I found that it was really hard to continue shopping, reselling, and shipping items out to my customers each week. I had to start focusing my my classes.

So, I shifted my focus to marketing. It took (slightly) less time, and it was actually more profitable. It became easy for me as I was marketing my own small shop. My clients grew in numbers each week and each time I did a marketing campaign. Eventually, I had over 100 clients using my services.

I’m not going to say that this was easy, because it wasn’t. I had daily migraines, stress, and I was sick a lot because I was up most hours of every single night. Between taking classes during the day and working on my business by night, I would probably say I got around 3 hours of sleep every night. But every minute spent on my business was worth it. Every migraine, every illness, every friend lost, was worth it.

I Got Married

I got married at 19 years old, in June 2017, to my soulmate (I can feel your eyes rolling) while still attending school. At one point, my business stopped working. Instagram changed their rules and algorithms, and it heavily affected different marketing techniques, including ones I had become so accustomed to using. It was truly humbling in that I realized things were too easy for me. I was not growing. I was comfortable where I was and with the amount I was making.

My husband convinced me that I needed to start my business back up. I needed to regain my focus and put all of my efforts toward my business. If not for his belief in me, I don’t know that I would even have Social League.

So, I took a leap of faith, and I quit school. My husband was working at Best Buy at the time, while subsequently finishing off his college degree. It was a rough way to start our marriage. We didn’t have much, just a small 700 sqft apartment. The most we had was our faith that God would carry us through, and that He would provide. And that, He did.

Before I knew it, my business was blessed beyond what we had imagined before. Eventually, my husband was able to leave Best Buy to focus on finishing his degree, as well as creating his own successful business.

Conclusion (I Guess)?

I’m not telling anyone to leave college. What I am saying though is to follow your dreams and keep God at the center of them all. God had a plan for me, and He helped me to be in His will every step of the way. Despite not finishing the degree, had I not gone to NCSU, I never would’ve met my husband, and I never would’ve pursued my dreams of becoming a successful entrepreneur.