When I sat down to think about the biggest mistakes I've seen small business owners make (including myself), I came up with a laundry list that went on forever, but a few bigger conceptual mistakes REALLY stuck out to me that can encompass all the little ones.
Mistake #1: They give up before they really get started
When I started my network marketing business in 2011, I remember having a great first month. I was SO excited and my energy was through the roof. Then December came and business slowed down and I gave up. After ONE MONTH, I gave up?! I treated my business like a hobby I only did if it was easy. If it was fun and easy, I'd do it. The second it got a little hard, I threw in the towel. I realized pretty quickly that this wasn't going to bring me in consistent income, and sure as heck wasn't going to let me quit my day job. If I was going to build a six and multiple six figure business I had to ACT like a six figure business owner.
Six figure business owners do not give up when they hit a hard patch. They also don't have a "Plan B" or timeline to have success in their business. Sure, we can have goals and benchmarks we'd like to hit, but if we don't hit our goals by that time, do we just throw in the towel and call it quits? No! We evaluate. What went well? What went wrong? How can we change it for next time? We need to start looking at our "mistakes" "failures" and "pitfalls" as learning experiences that we can tweak for next time.
The entrepreneurial roller coaster is REAL, and if we don't mentally prepare ourselves for the tough times, we're going to give up before we even get started. And the funny thing is, we usually have a breakthrough on the other side of a struggle.
My biggest tip for you to bust through these hard times and not make the mistake of giving up too quickly, is to find the FUN in the everyday. What part of your day can you look forward to? What (inside AND outside of your business) can drive you and give you purpose? Those things will keep you going and find joy in the process rather than just focusing on the destination.
Mistake #2: They try to do everything themselves//zone of genius
For the longest time I wore "figuring it all out by myself" as a badge of honor. I didn't think I needed help to build my business. I'd just google everything, save money, and be good. BOY was I WRONG. Not only would that strategy take me FOREVER, but it's really lonely. Being an online entrepreneur can be a very lonely endeavor, ESPECIALLY if you're trying to do it all alone. Investing in coaching and masterminds have not only helped me have more skin in the game and learn how to have success from someone who's already been there, but it's made the entire process so much more FUN.
I have a community of like minded female entrepreneurs who I can go to when business gets tough. My friends outside of entrepreneurship, while amazing, won't always be able to relate to what I'm struggling with within my business, and having women who truly "get it" has made the biggest difference in my business (and sanity and happiness!).
Even if your first step is to join a free community, seek out help in SOME way! I have a great Free Community you can join here.
Mistake #3: They don't have a life outside of business and make their entire identity and happiness dependent on their business
While I absolutely LOVE my business, it is not my entire life. My business GIVES me life. I am forever grateful for it, but if I based my entire worth or identity on my business, I'd be a basket case. As an entrepreneur we're going to face so many ups and downs and if we ride that up and down emotionally every single time, we're going to be a wreck. I have a pretty smooth flowing business and team operating efficiently and we STILL have things "go wrong" every month. It's just the nature of business and the fast changing pace of social media. If something doesn't go as planned, I don't completely freak out and think my life is over. Is my family happy and healthy? Am I happy and healthy? Great. Then I'm good.
Life will happen. And when it does it can be very hard to show up in our business. If we can separate our business from our personal life and plan ahead for times like these, we can have "life happening" without our business crumbling. And vice versa. If we are having a tough point in our business we don't have to let it completely affect our personal life.
Setting boundaries with our business and personal life is going to be HUGE. I personally don't work weekends or after 5PM most days and my clients know and respect that. Setting boundaries (and actually sticking to them) are what's going to help you create that work/life balance that sometimes seem so elusive. I promise you, it's not :) You can have it too!
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Motherhood, no matter how you slice or dice it, is never easy. Running after small children, feeding them, tending to their physical and emotional wounds, and just taking the time to shower them with love— that's a lifetime of internal resources. Now add a job on top of all of that? Geez. We spoke to 14 working mothers to get an open, honest look at the biggest day-to-day challenges they face, because despite what Instagram portrays, it's not all dresses on swingsets, heels, and flawless makeup.
1. “Motherhood in general is hard," shares Rachel Costello. “It's a complete upheaval of life as you once knew it. I have a 22-month-old due any minute and a baby. The hardest part is being pregnant with a toddler — chasing, wrangling, etc., all while tired, nauseous, and achey. Then the guilt sets in. The emotional roller coaster punctuated by hormones when you look at your baby, the first born, knowing that their life is about to be changed."
2. “I'm a work-from-home mom," shares Jene Luciano of TheGetItMom.com. “I have two children and two stepchildren. The hardest part about parenting for me is being the best mom I can be to someone else's children."
3. “I joined the Air Force at 18 and had my first child at 20," tells female power house Robyn Schenker Ruffo. “I had my second baby at 23. Working everyday, pumping at work and breastfeeding at lunch time at the base, home day care was rough. Being away from my babies during the day took a toll on me— especially the single mom days when they were toddlers. I had a great support system of friends and military camaraderie. The worst was being deployed when they were 6 months old, yes both, and I was gone for 90 days. Not seeing them every night was so depressing."
4. “Physically, the hardest part of the parenting experience (and so far, I'm only six months in with twins) was adjusting to the lack of sleep in the very beginning," shares Lauren Carasso. “Emotionally, the hardest part is going to work everyday with anxiety that I'm going to miss one of the twins' firsts or other milestones. I know they are in good care but potentially missing those special moments weighs heavy on my heart when I walk out the door each morning," she continues.
5. “The hardest part of being a parent is social media, actually," says Marina Levin. “Shutting out the judgmental sanctimommy noise and just doing what works best for you and your family in a given moment."
6. “Trying to raise a healthy, happy, confident and self-respecting girl, when I'm not a consistent example of those qualities is the hardest for me," explains Adrienne Wright. “Before motherhood I was a pretty secure woman, and I thought passing that onto my daughter would be a piece of cake. But in the age of social media where women are constantly ripping each other to shreds for the way they raise their kids, it's nearly impossible to feel confident all of the time. Nursing vs. formula, working vs. stay at home, vax vs. anti-vax, to circumcise vs. not, nanny vs. daycare— the list goes on and on. We're all doing the best we can with the resources we have. We should empower each other to feel confident in the decisions we make for our families."
7. “The hardest part is the sense of responsibility and worrying that comes along with it," says Orly Kagan. “Am I feeding my kids properly? Are they getting too much screen time? Are they getting enough attention and love? Are they developing as they should be? It goes on and on and on."
8. “For me, by far the hardest part of motherhood has been managing my own guilt. As many triumphant moments as there may be, the moments when I feel like I did badly or could have done better always stick out," confesses Julie Burke.
9. “Balancing work and doing all the mom things and all the home things and all the husband things are not the hardest part of motherhood (for me, anyway)," shares Zlata Faerman. “The hardest part of motherhood is trying to figure out just how to deal with the amount of love I have for my son. It can be super overwhelming and I'm either alone in this sentiment, or not enough moms talk about it."
10. “The hardest part for me is giving things up," shares Stacey Feintuch. “I have two boys, an almost 3-year-old and almost 7-year-old. I have to miss my older one's sports so I can watch the little guy while he naps or watch him at home since he will just run on the field. I hate that other parents can go to games and I can't. I also really miss going out to dinner. My older one can eat out but we rarely eat out since my younger one is a runner!"
11. “I think if I'm going to be completely real, the hardest part to date has been realIzing that I chose this life," shares Lora Jackle, a now married but formerly single mom to a special needs child. “I chose to foster and then adopt special needs, as opposed to many parents who find out about the special needs after their child is born. It's still okay to grieve it sometimes. It's still okay to hate it sometimes and 'escape' to work."
12. “I'm a work-at-home mother doing proofreading and teaching 10-20 hours a week. The hardest part for me is not yelling. I took the 30-Day No Yelling Challenge and kept having to restart. I love my kids, don't get me wrong," says Michelle Sydney, exemplifying the difficulty of balancing work with family.
13. “I'm a full-time working mom of a 2.5-year-old," shares Anna Spiewak. “I bring home equal pay, keep the apartment clean and take care of dinner. Still my male partner gets all the praise for being a good dad and basically sticking around. It's mainly from his side of the family, of course. What I do is taken for granted, even though I'm the one who still changes the diapers, bathes her and wakes up in the middle of the night on a work night when she cries. I wish all moms got credit for staying on top of things."
14. “I am a stay-at-home-mother and currently working full-time from home on my start-up clothing brand, Kindred Bravely," says Deeanne Akerson, founder of Kindred Bravely, a fashion line devoted to nursing, working mothers. “The hardest part of my parenting experience is the constant feeling of never doing quite enough. There is always more to do, meals to make, laundry to fold, kids that want my full attention, errands to run, or work in my business. And since there really always are more things to do it's easy to feel like you're failing on nearly every aspect of life!"
This piece was originally published July 18, 2018.