Let's be honest here...
Some might think I'm odd for sharing some of this, but, you know what? I’m fine with that. There are a lot of myths that come up in discussions with having your own business and specifically, since I don’t have a brick and mortar business, I’m going to focus on having an online business, because that's what I'm most familiar with. (Also, at this point in my life I do NOT want a brick and mortar business.)
Ya know, if someone would've told me that one day I would be working from home, have my own business, following my passions and getting to travel the world a little more, I wouldn’t have believed them. In fact, some days I don’t believe that I don’t have the 4:00 am wake-ups, long commutes, long days and late nights with little sleep (because that was my life for a LONG time).
Some days I actually feel guilty that I get to work from home and get 7-8 hours (or more) of sleep. Then, some days I honestly miss having a routine and random in person office chats with people in the hall combined with a steady paycheck, paid vacation time, good benefits and a company supported retirement plan, etc.
It’s a balance, people. We all want what we can’t have...at times. But, I’ve also learned that I now have a lot of what I desired in the past and the path to getting here hasn’t been the smoothest and not at all linear, nor has it followed a perfectly precise plan.
However, I DO love what I do and enjoy having my own freedom and flexibility, but what my freedom and flexibility look and feel like to me, is probably very different than what you might think or how it would look like for you. It's not sitting around eating my coconut fat bombs all day or traveling to yoga and surf retreats whenever I want (though I have done both). I'm very grateful for my present and my past.
Here are some myths based on perceptions, questions, inquiries or assumptions I've received over the years (or some I've probably made up in my head). To be more honest and authentic, I wanted to clear them up, ya know, in spirit of not always sharing the highlight reels of life on the interwebs, but also sharing some of my struggles and realizations of having my own online business.
1. You have all the freedom in the world.
While I have more schedule freedom than I did when I worked in my corporate HR jobs, I can’t just scoot off and take days off to meet up for coffee, lunch, hiking or other events on a whim. Do I create my schedule? Yes, but since I run a business, meet with clients, create programs, write content, and other online business duties, plus pay my bills, I also have to structure my time to fit it all in.
So, while I would LOVE to have long daily coffee dates and spend every day of the week hiking or at a new coffee shop, realistically, I’m not able to do that without sacrificing something else on my schedule or within my life and business.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE connecting with people, but for me, since the pull for doing the things I LOVE is strong, I need to create structure within my business and schedule to get "all the things" (or at least the important things) done. I also resist structure, but value balance, so I know I need it to keep that balance. Plus, since my man works during the day and I enjoy spending time with him once he’s home from work, I create a schedule so our schedules can connect since that’s important to me.
That stated, if I can, I also like to escape during the day at times to work from a little coffee shop, connect with a friend for a walk (and bring Lita pup with), or take an afternoon hike, but it also has to work with my schedule. If I do take some "freedom me time", I usually make it up some other time in my schedule. It’s a balance. (I do guard my time, too.) I create balance with living a healthy life, self care, personal time and space, connection time and work time. I DO have more freedom, but at this point I don't have all the freedom in the world!
It's important to define what freedom is to you - what it looks like, feels like and how you can make it work in your life.
2. You’re raking in the dough (that's money, honey).
Having your own online business in this day and age (where did that saying come from?) everyone assumes you are "raking in the dough", don’t have a lot of expenses, and money falls from the trees into your lap. (I wish; I’m still waiting on that and planting those seeds!)
One thing a lot of people that either don’t have an online business or want to start one don’t realize is that while the overhead is usually lower for an online business than a brick and mortar business (no direct rent/lease payments if you work from home, etc.), there are still a lot of costs to having an online business (this varies depending on your business).
There are a lot of “hidden” expenses that you wouldn’t initially think about PLUS time, training and education on how to create, build and run an online business and, of course, different certifications, if applicable for your industry (for coaches, healers, teachers, etc.). It also costs to have your own website/blog, so when you go to a post, while it’s free for the viewer, there are costs for the online business owner (and more costs depending on the size of the business and traffic to the site). I won't go into all the costs here, but there's no employer to pay them (since you're your employer).
It's important that if you want to start a business or currently have an online business to track your expenses and income - just like a regular business. (Common sense is not always common.) When I was working full time and working within my business part time, I was saving money while also cutting back on my personal expenses. I’m still aware of where I’m spending money and tracking both business expenses and personal life expenses. While they’re separate “buckets” (I have separate business accounts), when it’s your own business, you’re also paying for the internet, website hosting, computer paper, training classes and all of the other expenses (there's a lot) that aren't covered by your employer - oh, you’re also paying your own taxes to the federal government (as when you have a regular job, your employer pays them - you do, too, but it comes our of your check before you're paid).
What we see in “online business communities” is people quitting their full time jobs and earning 6 figures in 6 weeks. While that might happen for some people, it’s the very few. When initially starting your business (and most of the journey), it takes A LOT of hard work behind the scenes and a lot of work initially is for free and you can go unpaid. Can you make money? Yes, most definitely, but it takes time, consistency and dedication - honestly way more than when working in a corporate type job.
Don’t start a business just to make money, your drive will fizzle out quickly. Make sure you have a deeper why and purpose that will keep your fire burning. Create your own definition of success.
3. You’re confident all the time.
Starting your own business can be one of the most difficult, yet one of the most rewarding journeys in your life. No, that doesn’t change once you hit a certain income, number of years in your business, or large milestones. Some days are hard, some even harder, some are good and some are amazing - even after you’ve been in business a couple of years. It’s a roller coaster, but if you’re in for the ride, you’ll experience the highs and lows - sometimes daily.
Some days I feel on top of the world and confident in my direction, other days I wonder what I’m doing or what I *should* be doing. Then, I'll write out a personal little *Naturalita Love Note* (aka my newsletter) and send it out to my tribe and I'll get a couple unsubscribes. That's when doubt can sink in, "Well, sh*t, they didn’t like that message" (insert self defeating words here), THEN 10 minutes later I'm like - "well, good, I’m glad they unsubscribed, that just means they aren’t really my tribe" (or they get too many emails overall and I shouldn’t take it personally) and I’m ready to invite in more people that do resonate with my message and want to join my tribe. (If you want to join my Naturalita Love Notes List (my tribe) you can join in here.)
While my confidence has grown in many areas, it’s always being tested. It’s been a great personal development journey and for someone who is highly sensitive, like myself, you sometimes think you’ll never feel confident or brave enough and want to hide in your little comfortable shell (aka comfort zone). But then, you look back and realize all you’ve accomplished versus (ignoring) what you haven’t yet accomplished and feel totally badass (until the next hurdle to jump comes up and it tests you again).
Confidence is like a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it gets.
4. You have your shit together.
The more I get into this journey, I start feeling pretty organized and that I have my shit together - and then I get on the interwebs to research something or start putting together a blog post and I get sidetracked. I’ll find someone who earned a million dollars in 10 seconds and they want to show YOU how they did it.
Okay, let’s check this out for *just* a minute (even though I’m feeling totally defeated by this) then I get distracted by a link to TOP cultural travel destinations on YouTube. Then that takes me to a video about a cute little puppy being saved from a river, THEN I end up on one of those gorgeous (yet annoyingly ad filled) slide shows of hidden travel destinations you should see before you die. (Does this happen to anyone else? Yes, yes it does. Don't lie.)
Really, squirrel brain much? While at times I love the internet, it's a HUGE distractor in my world, so I’ve learned to either shut off my phone or put it on airplane mode - and then, of course, I desperately need to use my calculator or check the time or something super urgent (because it’s NOT on my computer - it is), so I turn it on and then I find myself on Instagram watching Instagram Stories getting involved in lives of people I don’t know playing in waterfalls in the jungle or snuggling cute puppies. ARGGGGH. (Yes, there are apps on the computer to shut down the distractions, too.)
However, while some days I don’t have my shit together and get lost on the interwebs or just feel like a complete mess, I AM pretty organized overall and realize when talking to others in similar situations that I’m not alone and more organized than I think. In my programs and when working with clients, I'm extremely thoughtful, attentive, organized and detailed (though I may not always appear that way on the interwebs). I take business seriously, but in a love filled way.
Having an online business means you're online A LOT, but you also have to learn to shut shit down and focus, which means setting boundaries. So, for this girl who doesn’t like structure, that’s the importance of having love-filled structure in my days (see #1 on freedom).
Life is a dance between making it happen and letting it happen.
5. You don’t compare yourself to others.
This is a BIG MYTH. I would emphasize "others" as strangers on the internet and also add your friends and family and those with full time jobs and/or perfectly gorgeous families. When scrolling through the highlight reels of life on social media, we can totally lose appreciation for our own life and our own personally unique and love-filled journey.
It still happens with me, my friends. Even though I’ve made a conscious effort to realize it IS the HIGHLIGHTS on the social media (or you know, the boasting, fake news and the negative stuff, too) and that most of the time it IS love-filled sharing and it’s not personally meant to bring me down (or you down). Other people aren’t sharing their glory to bring us down, they're sharing their shine and what they love, just like I (you) do. I’m not sharing my joy to bring anyone down either. Roll with it. I appreciate seeing positive things on the internet. Keep that up, my friends.
"Comparison is the thief of joy." It’s a daily reminder and totally sticky note worthy "love note" to put on your computer. For me it’s helpful to strictly limit my social media time, but to also remember when scrolling to connect (online) with friends to look at the positive things as love flowing into my life, too.
I love seeing pictures of my friends, family and acquaintances doing what they love, traveling, living healthy lives, spending time with their families, etc. Remembering that I also have a pretty darn good life that also looks way different than others is important (you remember that, too). That’s the beauty of what makes it MY life or YOUR life: uniqueness. We all have struggles, we all have low days, but we can’t let what’s going on in others’ lives affect us in a negative way.
Recognize the love and let it be a part of your journey.
Can you relate to any of these myths or thoughts?
There’s probably way more myths I can bust for you, but I’ll keep it at five for now. If you’re an online business owner (of any type) and have other myths and/or debunking you want to share, please share in the comments below.
For those of you that have friends that are online business owners, please share this with them! More importantly, reach out to them to give them a little virtual high five or hug (or better yet a REAL HUG if you live close) and let them know you’re there to be a supportive friend… and maybe this can help you relate to them a little more.
Honestly, this doesn’t just relate to online business owners, pretty sure it can relate to a lot of people and situations in life. Adjust accordingly if you feel it resonates with you in any way.
Great post Nicole. I totally relate. I know I have people in my life who think I can come and go whenever I want because I work for myself, at home. Because my business is relatively new, I’m working my butt off with getting things going. A necessity – I like eating. :o)
Thank you for sharing, Corrie. I love connecting and it’s darn well needed with others… but there’s also a need to get sh*t done, too. It’s a balance for sure. 🙂