Just because I have made my dream into a job doesn’t mean it is all glitz and glam (follow me on my Instagram feed). Running Mums in Heels is 90 percent pure joy, excitement, and learning. The other 10 percent is like that of peeling off the layers of an onion. It can sting. If you have ever peeled an onion in your kitchen, you would know that the task involves some sweat and tears before the job is complete. Then the onion needs to cook and simmer before it is ready for presentation, tasting, and sharing. The peeling of an onion actually now strikes me as a great metaphor for my life. I think you are born without layers and as you grow you build some layers of protection and judgement that may lead you astray or confuse your path. In my thirties, I started to peel those layers and follow my own inner guide. It did involve some tears. Some?! Who am I kidding, a lot of them. It also involves being vulnerable. This is exactly how I feel when working on my own business. I launched into it because I had a dream and passion and vision. The more I peeled the layers, the more I believed in myself and the possibility of creating a successful business that would help women around me. What I wasn’t prepared for was how much I will change and transform while I do what I dream of. And I wasn’t prepared for the emotional parts of it too.
Because this started at a time when I also became a parent (another transforming experience and the biggest school of life ever) somewhere along the way it finally occurred to me: this is not about complaining and being spoiled, this is just hard but it is too late to go back. Nor do I want to. Even if I have days where the thought seems “easier”. But one thing is thinking and a whole different story is doing it.
So following your dream may look amazing especially with all the positives and perks on social media, but at the end of the day there’s a lot of time, sacrifice, and challenges to keep a business growing, especially if it is your business. What happens is you grow along the way as well. In any case, just like anyone else, I totally have mornings where I wake up feeling overwhelmed, and just want to have a day to myself or give up, but I know I can’t. So I wanted to share some of my biggest lessons I have learned thus far for those fabulous women who may be thinking of going down this path or those who have just started. We are here to inspire one another!
- Being your own boss isn’t that great, believe me!
Everyone is talking about it these days, how once you become your own boss you don’t have to put up with anybody’s bad mood or to be afraid of being fired when you make a mistake and you can call all the shots. Right?! Wrong!
Being your own boss still doesn’t mean complete freedom and independence. You will be trying to impress your clients and work under the pressure of your own deadlines. And when you think that making decisions yourself is the best, think again. The shocking thing is that it is super scary, especially when you have no one around to talk to and discuss them with.
My tip when you start your own business is to get a mentor early, become part of a mastermind group, or get an accountability partner. Learn from someone of proven success. That’s a very effective way to grow.
2. Working from home might seem like the best thing to do for a working mum but it’s not always. The lines of work and home can get blurred. You will need to resist your own habits even when it comes to going to the kitchen counter and opening the fridge, then seeing that spot on the floor and taking the mop to clean it. Can you concentrate with a full hamper of laundry sitting in your peripheral? Working from home means also that you have to force yourself to have working hours like other people who go to the office and not end up cheating on your husband with your laptop.
My tip is to set up firm working schedule and put it on the wall for everyone to know. Even your kids will start respecting your working time and will see that when you are out of work you actually have time to spend together with them.
3. When you are your own boss you will have to know how to motivate and inspire yourself in the first place before anyone else. No matter how much you love what you do, the minute this becomes a business and business model is involved there are lots of moments and pieces of work you won’t feel that jazzed about. Website implementation, SEO, social media, sales, answering emails…. You will wear many hats. And then there are the crisis moments when you will have no idea what to do and feel like there is no one to turn to who has a steak in the game of caring….except for you. The biggest ambush is starting to live in your own bubble and not asking for advice or opinion from those that have walked before you down this path or those friends that would be happy to help.
My tip is to try to organize your schedule by days and have two days to meet other people, brainstorm and talk, even be social or watch a movie without the guilt that there is so much more you could have been doing and needs to be done.
4. Successful people are not those who never fail, but people who never quit. Choosing to not give up means it’s going to hurt and when you actually hit the point of having to choose to continue on or not, it means you’ve hit rock bottom. What no one tells you though is that you need to find for yourself the fine balance between what you need to let go of and what to hold on to. There is a very thin line between how long can you hold on to one thing until you see it is just not your dream to achieve. Follow your dreams means recognizing if this is your dream or it is something your parents wanted you to be or become. This often involves walking off the beaten path and taking difficult decisions you have no one to talk to about.
My tip is welcome the pain, invite it into your tent, and see what it is there to teach you. This is where you truly make it or break it. Find people who you can talk to, people who have done it, who inspire you and for some reason you look up to in any difficult situation. These people are the ones who can be your mentors and their advice might not be the right one, but at least you can trust them and in some serendipitous way talking to them will guide you when you feel lost or have doubts about what you do.
5. You might find you don’t know yourself that well. The process of getting to know yourself is not an easy one, because often times you need to admit things you wouldn’t quite like to. For example, I always thought I am super organized and efficient with timing, but the truth is I am not. Yet I used to deny it all the time and this meant that I denied a big part of who I am – a really creative and artistic person who can be scattered, absent-minded, and even unable to express single thought on some days. It also means that I can often be detached and cheat on my friends and family with what I do. Another hard truth to swallow is that I am not really very social or an extrovert. I like spending time alone and that even made me feel like a bad mom on several occasions too. But I learned to accept a lot of things about myself and slowly found ways or characteristics in me that balanced the pieces I didn’t like. I learned not to take myself too seriously, how to delegate, accepting the fact that I can’t do everything in my own business: creative work, branding, sales, marketing, social media…
In a way, I tried hard to fall in love with the person I was getting to know for the first time in my life when I turned 40 and that is just the most amazing transformation I have ever experienced. And I can say without a shadow of a doubt that following my dreams has changed me, it has peeled layers, and it has totally been worth it.