Last fall I left my well paying full-time corporate job and went out to work for myself. I felt that I was entering into entrepreneurship with “eyes wide open” (or so I thought). I did what I could for entrepreneurship management for the most part, I think the more relevant sentiment in this case is, “you don’t know what you don’t know.”
In my case, that was a staggering amount.
I ran,walked, crawled, stumbled and cried (a shocking amount of crying, actually) my way through twelve months of business before one day I woke up and one year had passed. It was simutanously the fastest and slowest year of my life. I had a business plan written out by hand on neon paper posted above my desk. I had sticky notes pinned up representing my anticipated cash flow. I declined a business line of credit, smugly informing the bank I had no need for it (later this month I have an appointment to return to the bank, hat in hand, asking for a business LOC). I had not ever heard of source deductions, quarterly GST payments, subcontracting, or co-pro before. I was the most naive businesswoman on the planet most days, many of those early days being spent hunched over my computer in sweatpants (I tried working in my PJs and I just can’t do it). While I have progressed in so many ways, I still spend at least two of my days at home hunched over my computer in sweatpants.
I had a very simple mantra I adopted in early October of last year: I would be like Jim Carrey’s character in Yes Man. Do you remember that movie? Jim’s character can only say YES to experiences over the duration of the film. I don’t remember how or why he ends up like that (I often watch the Red Bull scene when I need a laugh, Red Bull has a very similar effect on me, too) but I liked the mantra. This year past my theme of business was saying YES to everything.
I had months bursting with clients, projects and business and I had very quiet months where I spent many afternoons riding my bike (it was conveniently warm outside) and trying to hustle new business. I frequently didn’t make my baseline budget for the month. I came in way over my budget one time. On my quietest month I worked an average of 31 hours/ week, on my busiest month I worked a mind-numbing average 65 hours/ week. My year average was 51 hours/ week. I pulled a Hillary (my gifted-with-numbers sister) and tracked meticulously all of it from day one.
I only twice stayed up after midnight to finish work due the next morning. I only once worked a 17 hour day. I worked at least an hour every single weekend of the year except for two. While it’s bringing me a sick sense of satisfaction to report these numbers, I am also dismayed at my lack of balance. My first year in business was marked by the sombre business at all costs including my sanity and the irony is this is one of the exact reasons I set out to work for myself; the controlling of my days, hours and weeks.
This is not to say I didn’t enjoy the occasional nap or bike ride, or didn’t binge watch the entire Orange is The New Black season 2 the day it was released. It’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the work, I do, completely. It’s not to say I didn’t feel I succeed in some ways, I did. In terms of one of my work- bibles “The E-Myth” I am still about 95% technician, about 5% manager and entrepreneur. This is a wee bit of a problem, and I have some serious thinking to do about remedying this next year.
As I embark on my second year of business, I am looking back to the movies for inspiration on managing (and following a theme) my next go around the sun. This time I have selected Amy Adams in Trouble with the Curve. She’s smart, tough, bold and talented- she’s not afraid to speak up. She’s legitimate minor league en route to the majors. I’m about to be less bush league, more minor league. Less yeses, more nos, more confidence, more direction towards the goals I set out for myself. This is year two.
One of the only nights I stayed up past midnight, notice my coping mechanism.