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10 Things You Realize When You Start Your Own Business

10 Things You Realize When You Start Your Own Business

If, like me, you have been an employee your whole life, and your immediate family have all been employees, jumping off of the employee treadmill and starting a small business is going to turn your mind inside-out in some pretty profound ways.

In fact, you might spend the first year or so of your new career spinning your wheels with a deer-in-the-headlights look, and therefore not getting a whole heck of a lot done. That’s okay; it’s why God created unemployment benefits and temp jobs. And don’t worry; you’ll get the hang of it.

Here are some of the things that have melted my mind:

1. When you start your own business, you’ll never, ever have to go job hunting again. Ever.

Sure, there may be times when you’re tight on cash and have to work at a café or take on some freelance projects for a little while just so you can eat, but this is totally different from thinking of a job as being a long-term “career”. You know that this job a tactical move to tie you over until your REAL career – your business – picks up again.

(Of course, you probably won’t want to tell that to your temporary boss.)

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2. When you start your own business, you’ll never waste your time and energy making someone else rich again.

You’re working for one person: YOU. And you’re working to make YOU rich. Not Wal-Mart, not the neighborhood repair shop – YOU. Nobody else.

(Okay, maybe the “rich” part hasn’t happened yet, but the potential is there.)

3. When you start your own business, you’ll never have to put up with awful bosses or office politics again.

You may one day BE a crappy boss; and if you are, your business will suffer, so you’ll either learn to stop scaring off your staff or go belly-up. But you can control you. You can’t control your boss or your coworkers.

4. When you start your own business, you’re going to work harder than you ever have in your life … and you’ll love every minute of it.

Why? Because you’re figuring out how to make yourself rich. It’s hard to have that kind of motivation when you’re working for someone else.

5. When you start your own business, other business owners and CEOs become your peers, not your employers.

When you call up technical support, you’ll realize that the CEO of the company who made the product you’re using isn’t just some faceless goon who might show up in the media now and then if they’re famous enough. No, they’re ordinary, flesh-and-blood people, just like you … who started out small, just like you. In fact, if it’s a small company you’re dealing with – say, an iPhone app developer – when you make that technical support call, you might even end up talking to the CEO herself.

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Suddenly, the playing field just got even.

6. When you start your own business, you, and you alone, are responsible for your income.

This means that you’re going to become obsessed with two things: marketing yourself, and keeping your customers happy. No marketing or doing a lousy job means no customers, which means that you don’t eat. You get direct feedback from your efforts.

It’s your butt on the line. Nobody else is going to do it for you.

7. When you start your own business, you’ll find out who your real friends are.

As much as your friends and family may love you, and as much as you may love them back, the ones who are employees are simply not going to “get” what you’re doing. Their butts aren’t on the line like yours is. So while they may offer lip service to supporting you, you can’t rely on them to help you out in meaningful ways.  It’s not their fault; they mean well, but ya gotta actually walk in someone else’s shoes to really understand them.

(Don’t be surprised if you start hanging out with other business owners more than you do your old friends.)

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8. When you start your own business, you’ll realize that you have the potential to be paid what YOU’RE worth, not what the job is worth.

Even if the money part doesn’t happen overnight, it’s hard to describe the feeling when you realize that your income isn’t, by default, limited by the arbitrary amount set by the company you work for.

That “glass ceiling” everybody’s always talking about? Gone!

9. When you start your own business, you’ll learn how to manage your money really, really well.

Forget buying $300 sunglasses or blinging out your pickup with fancy chrome wheels. Since you’re not always going to be able to count on a set amount of money coming in each month, you’re going to think twice before spending your hard-earned cash on anything you don’t need.

At first, expect 99% of your income to go toward paying bills, buying food, or covering business expenses. Anything left over, you’ll probably want to sock away for the next lean month.

10. When you start your own business, you’ll feel freer, smarter, more independent, more resourceful, more in control, and more powerful than you have ever felt in your life.

Economies and governments may collapse, financial systems may fail, but if you’re working for yourself, you know you’ll survive.

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Why?

Because nothing can ever take away your mind, your talents, or your skills, and there will always be someone who wants them.

Your turn: How has starting your own business changed YOUR thinking?

Featured photo credit: Steve Jobs painted portrait / Thierry Ehrmann via flickr.com

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5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

Not being able to stay productive at work is a problem that everyone runs into at some point; no matter how much you like your job, there are certain factors that prevent you from staying at maximum proficiency throughout the whole day.

A lack of productive focus at work can lead to extra stress on yourself, missed deadlines, passed opportunities, raise denial, demotion and even termination.

So, if you are someone who has trouble with your productivity, here are five effective tips on how to be productive at work:

1. Take breaks

First and foremost, it’s important for you to take regular breaks. Trying to work throughout the whole day will tire your brain, which will then cause you to doze off and think about something else.

If you keep working your brain, it will fill up and get jumbled with information—sort of like a computer hard drive. Taking a break would be like resetting your computer so that it can start afresh, or de-fragmenting the data so that all the information is in order.

This is a great thing because it allows you to solve problems you were unable to solve previously, by seeing it differently; if you are able to organize your thoughts properly, you will be able to take in new information more easily.

There have even been studies about methods of saving time and staying proficient, and taking breaks is one of the leading factors.

According to Christine Hohlbaum, the author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World, eating lunch away from your work area every day will greatly increase your productivity. Eating in your work area will give you the illusion that you are working, but whether you like it or not, your brain will begin to wander and think of something else and then you will be working tirelessly with no progress.

It’s important to take breaks before and during work too: if you come to work in a rush because you woke up late, your mind will not be mentally prepared for the day ahead, and you will spend the first 10 to 15 minutes trying to get organized and composed before you can actually start working.

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Instead, you should try to wake up 20 minutes earlier than the time it would take you to “just get” to work. Take that time to stare off into space and not worry about anything.

If you do this, your brain will be empty and ready for all the challenges it has coming for the next few hours.

If your employer only allows a set amount of breaks during the workday, that doesn’t mean you can’t just get up and walk around for a quick break every now and then.

Even if it’s only 5 minutes, it will refresh your brain and you will gain renewed energy to do your job.

Learn more about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

2. Pace yourself and balance your workload

One problem that most people run into is that they underestimate the amount of work they have to do, and end up doing 50% of the work in the last 20% of the time they have to do it. This is due to an issue of balancing one’s workload.

When you receive a project, or are doing a job you normally do, take some time to really plan out your work schedule.

Consider how much time it took you to do this last time; determine how you can break the project into smaller parts and which can only be accomplished on certain days, and whether anything might come up that could interfere with your plan.

All of these questions are important for starting on a project, and when answered, they will help you stay productive throughout each day.

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For example, if you needed to design a project to map out the amount of aid offered in various regions after Hurricane Sandy, you can break it up as follows:

You will need to know what organizations are offering help to begin with, how much aid those organizations gave or plan to give, which regions were hit by Sandy, and which regions suffered the greatest losses.

You start this project on a Thursday and know you have until Tuesday to gather this information.

In order to stay productive, you need to plan out your work week—now you know you can find out which organizations are involved in helping the Hurricane Sandy Victims any day since that information is online, but gathering information on the organizations may require you to call them.

Since phone calls can only be done during week days, you have to plan on gathering all of that information before the weekend comes.

That is just one example of a situation in which pre-planning your project will help you stay productive; had you researched the affected regions first, you would not have received the info on the organizations until the weekend, and may have missed your chance to call them.

That, in turn, would have wasted time you could have spent working on this project to finish it.

Knowing what you need to do, when you can do it, and how long it will take you, is important in balancing your workload and being more productive and efficient.

3. Put your work first

This is an issue that usually occurs with young people who are new to the workforce: they’re often tempted with offers to go out at midday, and then come back lost in thought and unfocused on their work-related tasks.

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While it is important to take breaks, your breaks should consist of you clearing your mind, not loading it up with other less important information—like sports.

However, that is not the only situation where you need to worry about putting your work first before all else.

In a work environment, the senior employees will oftentimes push some of their menial tasks onto the newer employees. If you fall into that category, you need to know that their work is not your work, so if you have tasks that need to be done, you need to do it first.

If you are a new employee, you must learn to say no to other people even when it means you may not be in their good graces anymore. You can help others out once your work is done, but you are paid to do your own work, not anyone else’s.

4. Don’t open your browser unless you need them

In this day and age, everyone is constantly monitoring their social network. This is a major pain point for companies, which is why many don’t allow employees to access their social networks on company workstations.

When you are at work, disconnect the internet from your phone and keep your browsers closed so you’re not tempted to log onto your social media accounts or browse any sites that are not work-related.

If you keep your browsers closed and phone tucked away, only to be used in an emergency, you will find yourself being a more productive employee right away. 

5. Try to be happy and optimistic

If you always have a negative outlook on life, you will be more distracted and less motivated to get work done, so it’s important for you to start your day off right.

This can be done by having a good breakfast or by taking time in the morning to watch one of your favorite TV shows before work.

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If you are happy, you will find yourself able to work much more productively as your mind won’t wander into worrying about something else.

Also, if you stay optimistic and keep telling yourself that you can do whatever you set your mind to, the tasks will seem much less daunting and will go by much more quickly.

Take a look at more effective ways to stay positive at work:

15 Ways To Stay Positive At Work

Happiness and optimism are the keys to being a productive and happy employee.

All in all, heed the five tips above and you will find yourself being one of the most productive people at your company.

While you do not need to master them all, each and every one of them will help you become a better and more efficient employee.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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