I have been working as a freelancer for the past two years now. I often get asked if it’s easy and what it’s like to be self-employed, so I thought I would tell my story.
I love my freelance life and I couldn’t be happier that I made the decision to do it alone, but it hasn’t been easy and there are definitely pros and cons to both kinds of lifestyle. Whether you succeed in one or the other ,I think it comes down to what you want to achieve and what kind of person you are.
I stayed late and worked extra hours and was very involved in the corporate mission for greatness, but for me the time frame in this environment just didn’t cut it. I saw no direct reward for the extra effort I was putting in and being told I would be up for a pay review in 6-9 months didn’t motivate me to stay.
For some people I understand that the security of a regularly paid job, coupled with the more standard career route of rising through the ranks is a dream come true, but it turns out I wanted something different.
I don’t think I actually appreciated that I wanted to work for myself until I quit my job and went for it. I’ve never been as scared as I was when I made the decision to quit. I had worked my whole life to land that corporate city job…nearly 20 years in education!
I had some savings behind me, and the intention of finding a more rewarding and higher paid role. I spent a few weeks enjoying my new found freedom in the city but naturally got a little bored, so I started helping some friends with various projects, while interviewing for full-time roles.
A month or so after quitting I was involved in several freelance projects and actually being paid for most of them! I decided that I would push back finding another full time job and see how I could get on with self-employment.
I had accidentally become a freelancer. Over the first few months I taught myself a lot of new skills while doing projects at the same time. I spent hours networking, learning, and building my personal brand. I’ve never been happier.
At least one working day a week should be spent on building relationships and sourcing new work to make sure that you don’t end up finishing a project with no new work in site.
One of the biggest perks of the job for me is that I can carry on learning while I am earning. I put a lot of my cash back into my education, as a business would with its employee training. This is another really important thing to remember to make sure you stay ahead of the curve in your industry.
It is also important to get into a good work/life balance routine. It can be very easy to work all hours of the day, especially as you see more and more money coming in. However, taking a break will mean you perform better and ultimately will get more work in the long term.
It took me a while to figure this one out but now I work normal working hours, just from the comfort of my own home. I can get up slowly, exercise, have a healthy breakfast, and watch the news. I don’t have to fight with angry commuters and so I save about 2 hours a day of travel time (which I use for personal development).
So long as I keep in touch with clients and the work gets done, they don’t care where I am.
So now that you know my story, here are some top tips for becoming a top notch freelancer and kicking ass at life:
Being a freelancer comes with its risks and rewards, but, for me, it has been one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made.
It was my last semester at UGA and May 10 was soon approaching, it was starting to hit me that college was inevitably coming to an end and real life was about to begin.
Most of my friends and classmates were busy going on interviews and accepting jobs after graduation. Everyone was excited to know what each other would do and where they were going. We had all worked so hard for the last four years and now was the time we had all been waiting for. We were eager to finally put everything we learned to the test and more excited to no longer be broke college students.
My last months of college, I didn’t apply to any jobs and did I go on any interviews. Instead, I was contemplating a very different route, one that wouldn’t provide me with the security and the money we’re all seeking but a route I was convicted to take.
Two years earlier, I had an experience that would forever change my life. The summer going into my junior year of college, I had the opportunity to study abroad to Ghana. During the trip I fell in love with the beauty of the culture, textiles, people and of course the food (I could have sworn I gained 10 lbs from all of the chicken and jollof rice I ate). Toward the end of the trip, we visited a program that helps young girls who had been abandoned or came to the city for better opportunities and assisted them in becoming self-sufficient and equipping them with the tools needed to provide for themselves and their families.
The girls welcomed us in a singing-dancing circle and we heard stories of how the program was changing their lives.
As we were about to leave, I got back on the bus, feeling a sense of helplessness and wanted to give back to the girls to help them continue their journey to receive an education. Our group had gathered some items we could leave for the girls but I went back through my bag searching for more I could give to the girls, knowing that everything in my bag wouldn’t be enough.
My time in Ghana and my encounter with the girls was an experience I couldn’t forget once I got home, one that continued to run through my mind as I contemplated what could I do and how. I shared my experience with my best friend Sasha and we both knew, we wanted to be a part of supporting the girls as well as those with similar stories around the world. We had an idea to start a business but I still wasn’t sure if this is would just be a passion project or something I would pursue full time after college.
Call me crazy but I believed that even though our support would have to start small it would grow into educating hundreds even thousands of girls around the world.
And at the end of the day, those beliefs were all I needed to make my final decision. Instead, of following a plan of security, I would take a journey into the unknown and decided to start a business immediately after graduation, to help support the girls receive an education. No, I didn’t have any experience and no, I didn’t have any money. But I figured I had nothing to lose and there was no better time than now.
Two weeks after graduation, we launched Bené and I started working the business full-time. Bené is a collection of scarves with love at its core; we are committed to educating girls in Ghana and growing our impact around the world.
Two years into my entrepreneurial journey, I can honestly say that I am crazy, but as Steve Jobs said, “the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
To follow along the craziness of my entrepreneurial journey, check out The Journey of Blue.
My husband and I both work full-time and also work on my blog, Wonder & Awe. We work on the blog whenever we have a free minute.
I first saw Matt while he was leading worship at church, we made eye contact and it was love at first. We dated for six months, were engaged for five months and have been married for almost a year. When you know- you just know.
When it comes to Wonder & Awe, Matt is equally as involved as I am, and Wonder & Awe would truly be nothing without him. Matt is the half of the story that you do not see- the man behind the camera. He spent countless hours on a beautiful redesign of my website and helped me upgrade all my different web features. He researched the best camera lens to purchase for the types of shots we do and takes the most beautiful pictures. Our skill sets really complement one another, and it honestly is just way more fun working with him than it would be to do this on my own. We both love the creative process and enjoy creating beautiful new content for Wonder & Awe.
I grew up always working at newspapers. Before deciding to go to law school, I had plans to work in broadcast journalism. Matt is a computer genius and runs his own company, Loop Community. We both are very busy.
I started Wonder & Awe because I needed a creative outlet. During the day I work fulltime as a lawyer and at night Matt and I work on Wonder & Awe. Balancing working fulltime and also trying to get a blog off and running is not easy but I love it so much I just cannot stop. I really have the best of both worlds.
However, there are many days when the whole process becomes way overwhelming. Between finding time to work out after a full day of work, grocery shop, make dinner for my husband and sneak in the occasional shower sometimes I start to crack under all the to-do-lists I create for myself.
I always wish I had more time to devote to building the blog. There is a huge business behind blogging and one that requires much more time than I currently have to devote to it. I wish I had time to network with all the different Chicago bloggers but in this season of my life I just can’t. Right now time is precious. I am so thankful that I get to work with my husband and spend time with him throughout the whole process.
To learn more about Wonder & Awe, please visit http://wonderandawe.com/!
The #halfthestory you do not see in front of the camera is the most important part of the story for me.
Ask around, and most people will tell you about their great idea or how they “thought of it first.” A lot of people on the “outside” believe if they wanted to pursue an entrepreneurial idea, they could just do so. But, most people never pursue that path, and those that do often fail. I think there is a distinct line between those who have an interesting idea, and those who jump in head first.
Just over a year ago, I was a senior manager at a Fortune 15 company, exceeding each goal set forth for me and on a path to move up within the company. But I wasn’t satisfied. Despite high praise from peers and management, something was missing. In fact, I put on a mask when interacting at work to hide the fact that I wasn’t in a great place mentally. I couldn’t understand why I didn’t feel satisfied or fulfilled in my role.
When speaking to my closest friends, I indicated I was looking for something different. I recognized that I was happiest when I was given the opportunity to figure out solutions with little structure in place, because it offered me the freedom to think and act creatively. Not only that, but I had several ideas for my own businesses that I thought could be successful.
On May 15th, 2015, I quit my job and decided to pursue an entrepreneurial route while getting my MBA at the University of Georgia.
My closest friends were excited for me, but I couldn’t help but notice people immediately began judging me as well. People would make comments like, “It’s a good thing you’re getting an MBA, because eventually you are going to need to find a job.” Or “Wow, I wouldn’t have left a job like that. But, at least you can always go back.” And of course, “Oh, I have an amazing idea as well.”
Not only that, but all of a sudden there were also all of these new expectations. Since most people assumed I would fail, I have had to have conversations with friends, family, and peers constantly updating them on my progress. Honestly, it’s tiring and that’s without taking into account the work involved in starting a company. Mainly because I hadn’t actually done anything yet!
But you know what? I refused to let it bother me too much. I loved what I was doing. I was going to startup happy hours, reading for hours about successful entrepreneurs, and constantly thinking of different ideas. I was learning about so much, and just felt completely empowered.
Not to mention, I started having very interesting things to say about other companies and entrepreneurs in daily conversation. I’d say I started getting my training wheels at that point, and slowly, people began to believe in me after seeing my commitment.
I was very confident in my first idea. I talked about the app to as many people as possible. People praised the idea and said that they hoped it would be available soon. They even gave me feedback on how to make it better. Based on the feedback, I became even more confident.
That is, until I started discussing it with other entrepreneurs and advisors. They asked me key questions about the business that frankly I wasn’t prepared for. Beyond a great idea and a simple business plan, I failed to truly spend the time necessary to figure out that it was flawed.
Why? Well, for one thing, none of the people who said they wanted the app were actually willing to pay for it. I fell into a common trap like other aspiring entrepreneurs in that I thought I had all the answers and could skip to building the solution. Several ideas later, I was still learning from my mistakes.
Honestly, it was more by accident when I noticed a problem that I felt needed to be solved.
I noticed that my MBA peers struggled to find internships and jobs, and many felt unprepared or unsure about what to do to be successful. I had spent several years coaching and mentoring both students and business professionals in this area and found that networking was the single largest differentiation between those that successfully found jobs and internships faster in an area they desired with better pay. This was the beginning of my company, now called Fetch.
I entered the UGA Accelerator during my Spring semester and quickly lost touch with friends, family, and even some classmates. Even my roommate didn’t see me as much. People were surprised when I actually wanted to grab drinks and relax with others.
I spent as much time working on Fetch as I could using the tools from the accelerator and advice from mentors and other entrepreneurs. I learned about and executed on the tedious and difficult process of customer development. I spent weeks preparing a financial model to better understand the business feasibility. I made several pivots and tweaks on the original idea to get it to where it is today. I realized that I would need to sacrifice school work and other fun things to ensure I pressed forward on Fetch.
Meanwhile, the people who did see me saw a person who was constantly busy. I was going to network events, conducting interviews with lots of people, getting interviewed by the local newspaper, and more. Despite what may have looked like pure fun to others, it actually meant very long days and nights for me. On top of that, I was and am fearful of failing because I want more than anything for this to be successful.
Fast Forward to Today
Fetch provides consulting in the form of a half or full day course for students and business professionals to learn the value of professional networking and how to network. In the future, we plan to develop software that helps manage, simplify, and automate the process of networking via a one-sided platform.
Fetch has a long way to go. Although I have gotten further than ever before, the hard part is really just starting. Signing actual customers and growing is the real test. This next step will determine whether the business problem is real and actually helps customers who are actively searching for a solution.
I don’t know what the most important thing is for me to do at any given moment. I don’t know if I’m doing “it right.” I don’t have the skill-set for every component of my business. But each day I press on and make a little progress. As they say, “I get by with a little help from my friends.” That couldn’t be more true with all the help I have received.
Despite wanting to be an entrepreneur and having business ideas, I’ve learned that it takes far more than that. There is a reason that most startups fail. There is a reason that everyone isn’t just “jumping in.” The mindset needed for this type of work is unusual and honestly kind of crazy. Committing to the work is step one.
If you aren’t dreaming every night about your idea, it’s probably not going to work out. If you don’t spend each day thinking about your idea with every free moment, it’s probably not going to work out. But, if you do have that rare “something” and jump in, it will be the most difficult yet fulfilling ride you will ever go on.
The world is constantly changing, especially the world we call home in the United States. Our economy, political views, social views, business ideas, and individual beliefs are influenced by change, and more importantly those who initiate it.
The rest of the world surrounding us is influenced by its own change. Therefore, change is not the same for everyone or every country. Some accept change, and others may not, however it is evident that it has a firm grasp on how we perceive.
In our economy, people are accepting that capitalism should be replaced by controlled socialism; people like Bernie Sanders and those who follow him. Bernie Sanders is an initiator of change. He holds views that he believes will benefit the economy; views that are very different from the traditional sense of capitalism. Donald Trump, the leading Republican candidate, is obviously a change from the traditional sense of Republican/ conservative belief. Although he may hold some conservative ideas, it is clear that, as he leads the Republican polls, he is also one that initiates change in our economy and view of politics. He accepts that certain things must be subject to change, which connects the ideas of contradiction and change.
For example, Bernie Sanders would like to bring socialist ideas to a purely capitalist country- is this change or contradiction? Donald Trump is changing the way that people understand politics through control of the media. He is contradicting the idea of professionalism, and how our presidential candidates represent themselves and their parties. He, quite literally, has every Republican candidate battling against him because his views are contradictory to traditional conservatism. But people follow him, and they believe in him. Now how do contradiction and change tie into each other, and our topic of a Level 5 leader? And what defines a level 5 leader?
A level 5 leader is the perfect contradiction. They are one who accepts change, but also holds views that must remain to benefit everyone. They are one who lives their life both professionally and personally. They are one who produces ideas that primarily benefit their own predicament, but does so in order to benefit those around them. This sounds like a positive contradiction, but contradiction has always been viewed in a negative light.
Chuck Blakeman discusses a change in how businesses can be run in a Tedx MileHigh lecture. The change he talks about is from an industrial point of view to what he calls “participation.” Many people may find this change contradictory to the idea of capitalism that we, as an economy, so desperately follow. For example, leaders are defined by how well their ideas benefit everyone within and outside the company; not by position or title that has been given. “Participation,” Chuck says, is not having standard work hours, but working when it is needed to benefit the business. Work becomes a group process, not an individual job. The “Participation” business not only uses a Level 5 leader to its full potential, but does well in training others to become leaders themselves.
Standard leaders of corporations today resort to traditional hierarchies of leadership with strictly defined jobs for individuals. Blakeman initiates change in his lecture by innovating the way that people can work to not only benefit the company by reaching optimal output through groups, but also by redefining how an individual can become a leader inside and outside of the workplace.
In conclusion, change and contradiction have never been simple. Implementing laws in politics is an annual, if not a decadal process. Our economy is structured by traditional business, businesses that have been failing us as an economy. Other, thriving businesses, like Apple and Google, have begun changing the idea of a workplace, however the traditional sense of work remains. Many of these businesses go into bankruptcy due to bad leadership. The idea of a Level 5 leader explains that it does not take one individual to lead a group, but it takes one individual to teach how others can lead groups of their own.
As we become more capable of leadership as individuals, our economy and population will more strongly represent the leader-esque nation we have chosen to become, and continue to be.
When I think back to every time I accomplished something, there was someone there to guide me. When I was in school, there was a teacher and my parents. When I played soccer, I had coach or my parents.
Even at my first job, where I casually crafted Quiznos subs, there were managers there to guide me and help me succeed. Even in the most particular scenarios, such as stuffing my bag in the overhead bin of an airplane or getting my ticket ripped at a movie theater, someone was there to guide me. Guidance and leadership exist in so many different forms, from your teacher to your bank teller. It’s an aspect of life that in most cases comes naturally. It’s something that most people share and something that all of us expect: guidance.
All of the people who once guided me were replaced by other students who were just as clueless as I was. “Where am I going to live when I grow up?” “What am I going to do?” “Oh, I know – I’ll start my own business.” “But, how?”
Almost every student has the limbo feeling of not knowing what their calling is. First they may think its biology and then they may realize they are really meant for management. Then when they get in to management, they have no clear guidance on how to get a job. They’re confused on what classes to take and where to apply for real-world jobs. Nightmares of interviews and paper-jockeying haunt them at night.
The thoughts of driving a 2-seater with one taillight out and no money to replace it freak them out because they fear they will never find out what they want to do. How do I know this? Because that is exactly how I felt before I figured it all out.
At this sales meeting, I had the opportunity to meet the CEO, John Fallon. He invited us on stage in front of over 1,000 people and told us to ask us one question about the company and one piece of advice for the company. Of course, my mind jumped straight for the confusion that my life was currently engaged in.
I asked him how education can be better guided by mentorships. His answer was incredible and on point as he stated that students like myself should do something about it and that everyone in the audience is capable of making changes to be more personable in their daily lives. He was advising that success comes from inside and outside the books.
The second part of the on-stage interview was to give the company a piece of advice from the student’s point-of-view. As guessed, I once again laid my attention on the fact that there is a lack of mentorship and guidance in the lives of students outside, and even inside, school. I advised everyone, including Mr. Fallon himself, that there should be more attention given to establishing relationships. We should focus more on the students’ lives and not so much their grades. At the end of the day a student can pass ten advanced placement tests and complete two terms of club president but still be left without a vision or job.
At some point or another, especially while in the school years, we all need a little advice or insight. We need someone to talk to and someone to ask questions to.
What about the surgeon or lawyer we want to be? Why can’t we talk to them? Why can’t we sit down with a pilot or speak with a boutique owner? Once the on-stage interview ended, a flock of people rushed the stairs to speak with us. They we’re asking us questions and telling us that we had the answers to what students needed.
That was it. Let me say it again. We have the answers to what students need. The ever-so-famous lightbulb burst into the space above my head. I had the answer to the problem I, and many others, had been experiencing for so long.
Once I returned back to Athens in late January, I put the pencil to paper and drew out countless ways to make this light bulb come to life.
MentorBuzz has one mission: to connect students to mentors. We strive to make sure that every student has an opportunity to talk to someone in their field of interest. That one connection could be the key to success or the door to a new life.
Now, a student who is interested in orthodontics can get real-world advice from a real orthodontist, and not some internet forum. We connect students to the mentor they need and make sure that they can create valuable relationships. This is exactly what I needed and exactly what the other 42.7 million students in America need – a little guidance.
Not one person has become a billionaire without some form of guidance or mentorship. There is an old and humorous quote that goes, “It’s not about the grades you make, but the hands you shake.”
Granted, education is single handedly one of the most powerful energy sources in the world, but who says education has to come strictly inside a classroom? I have had countless mentors in various different fields from various different places. Without a doubt, it has made all of the difference.
MentorBuzz is here to re-shape the traditional forms of mentorships in order to make sure that every single student can get the advice and connection they need. We are here to make the difference in helping you get to where you belong.
Like our page on Facebook and reach out to us to figure out how you can get a mentor, or even how you can become a mentor. Help us spread our mission in order to create the lasting connections that we all need. Share our story and who we are because ironically enough, we still need mentorship and feedback too! #MentorBuzz
There are successful companies and then there’s successful companies that make people emotional. When a critic writes a nasty comment, they don’t have to defend themselves.
These evangelists step up and rip that person a new one for them. These companies create NDAs because their attorneys require it — not because they’re worried about their past or current employees badmouthing them. They are not worried about censoring people because they never misbehave.
I’ve had bosses tell me I was entitled because I didn’t want to settle for being someone’s No. 2 after taking nothing and turning it in something with a solid foundation. I was entitled because I’m 25 and even though I built and managed this foundation, I couldn’t possibly be trusted to run it long term.
Even though I spent more than 50–60 hours a week building their company and lost a boyfriend I loved because of it, I was entitled and seen as “running over my co workers.”
Yesterday, I had an epiphany — an aha moment.
This whole time it was never me. It was them.
It was these companies with poor leaders — leaders who were threatened by its people growing — fearful they would outgrow them — fearful of relinquishing control of anything and everything — fearful of people pushing back.
They saw negative feedback as, well, negative and not for what it really is. Negative feedback means that someone cares enough to invest in making your baby better — in helping you reach and exceed your wildest dreams. These bosses, who should’ve never been managers in the first place, made me feel like shit.
And these co-workers — some meaner than others — made me feel like a complete outsider, as it turns out, just because I worked harder than them. If my old co-workers are reading this, all I want to ask you is: How is that boyfriend who loves you and supports you while you work a $45k per year job?
How is your dad who supports your career goals? How is that house your parents loaned you the money for? How’s your wife? How’s your fiancé?
I have no boyfriend who loves me. No one is there for me if I can’t pay my rent on the first of the month. And my phone only rings between the hours of 9 to 5 — sometimes til 9 because of timezone differences.
You know what I do have though — I have an innate amount of passion for what I do; I’m incredibly resilient; and I’m genuinely a good person. And when treated properly, I’m your biggest supporter and evangelist.
Some people choose to have a work-life balance, and some people choose to work. Whichever path you choose, don’t crucify the person who didn’t choose the same. And leaders, stop calling Millennials entitled because they expect to have more in a shorter amount of time after working their asses off to get it.
Never lose faith. All companies and bosses don’t suck. Sometimes God puts the wrong people — to date and/or work for — in our lives because he wants us to appreciate ”the one” when we finally find them.
If it doesn’t feel right then push back. Because the companies and leaders you want to work for will celebrate you because of it.
I know how painful it is to not fit in anywhere — in work, in life, at home, anywhere — but trust me, one day you’ll find someone who sees you for who you’re really are, and when you do you’ll be so happy you never succumbed to the status quo.
I’m going to be perhaps a little too honest with you guys from the get-go. I never meant to start a business and I absolutely never considered myself to be an entrepreneur – that word alone scares the hell out of me. But here I am, writing this, trying to explain what it is exactly I hope to accomplish.
I’ve officially been out of the world of media – or should I say journalism since technically I still work in media – for about a year now. It took me being approximately two weeks removed from the industry to realize that I missed it. Holy hell did I miss it.
Looking back, the 3 and half years I spent working in sports journalism were 3 of the most chaotic, challenging, frustrating, enthralling, and wonderful years of my life. Good or bad – I wouldn’t change a single experience I had. Okay I maybe would have gotten in a few less Twitter fights and reacted quicker that time I got tackled on the sidelines (shout out to Ryan Switzer for my first concussion) but you get the point. I would however, have appreciated it more.
The one issue I had with working in sports journalism however, was that I often times found it very limiting. I could only talk about certain things. I was only allowed to have an opinion on this, not that. I needed to “stay in my lane,” and after awhile it got too frustrating for me. I wanted to have a real voice, on real things and most importantly on my own terms.
So I started dijananotdiana.com (catchy title, I know) in hopes of getting my voice out there and showing fellow journalists they don’t have to be limited to one topic or field of journalism. Launching the website was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. In a world where everyone has an opinion on the Internet, I was terrified at the response I would get. And then … something weird happened. People were supportive, encouraging even, and they actually liked what I had to say. People read my articles and listened to my podcasts and suddenly I was a millionaire!
Yeah JK, that last part didn’t happen at all. I record my podcasts out of my closet. I write my articles after my 9-5 actual job and on weekends. I am one-woman team. Starting my own site was very liberating and exciting but it’s also a lot of work and pressure; mostly pressure that I put on myself. It’s a lot of pushing myself to the limit, giving up free time, and realizing it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
This is going to take time, patience and a lot of hard work – all of which you have to be willing to put in when it comes to being an entrepreneur.
Wow, it’s been a wild ride with Brunch Media (facebook.com/brunchmedia) over the past one year (and still going strong).
What began as a blog to write about issues that matter to Millennials in an authentic, relatable approach has morphed beyond that into multiple podcasts, Facebook Live date nights, self-help videos, and hopefully much more in the future.
Like so many of you, side projects typically come and go. We enjoy our day-to-day job, but often times, the need to express ourselves extends beyond that, and out sprouts a new venture, creative outlet, insert another Silicon Valley buzzword, etc. (…well, anything but a business and I’ll get to that in a moment). At first, incredibly exciting, a couple months later scarily real, and close to the one year mark, an equivalent amount of optimism and pessimism. After this, it may fizzle out or continue onwards (but not often upwards).
As I reflect on Brunch Media and brace myself for its future, I thought I’d share a few critical lessons from my time working on this latest side project so far:
I’ll dive right into this one. Make sure you look at your side project as a side project for as long as possible. What do I mean by that? Obviously, you’ll have huge dreams: “Can’t wait to have an office, work out a deal with the Kardashians, hire X as our first social media coordinator, etc, etc.” I’m saying to forget all of that nonsense.
When we started gaining some traction with Brunch Media, we forced the “business” conversation. Weekly “board meetings” at a certain time, legal documents to make us seem legitimate, and a focus on data over our true interests. Now, if you have the infrastructure in place, these are the right steps to take everything to the next level.
BUT, with only two Philly kids, two Bumble apps, and a whole lot of Millennial uncertainty, all of this forced more stress, unnecessary work, and most importantly, took out the fun involved. By going back to the basics and looking at Brunch through the lenses of a hobby, we are back in a place we know too well: our passions. I’m here to pass on the words of Billy Madison when telling the kids about the dangers high school (business) poses: “Stay here! Stay as long as you can! Cherish it.”
The human journey is inherently social. I can’t think of too many career tracks where you can not only get the job done by yourself without any assistance, but reach a paramount level of success. I’ve been very fortunate to find a partner to help push me into the right direction both on my personal growth and our shared goals with Brunch Media.
We are at that stage (myself already at an exciting job, and he on his way to an elite grad school program) where our personal development, quite simply, matters more than Brunch Media’s development. By putting our friendship first and partnership second, we can embrace each other’s shared goals, help put one another in the best place to succeed, but also fill in the gaps for the other’s respective areas of improvement.
It’s like each of us have a 24/7 “Ari Gold.”
It’s been a helluva ride so far, and hours upon hours of conversations mostly leading to hours and hours of more conversation have convinced me this is an endless journey, but sometimes it’s nice to smell the roses, laugh at the overused Google Docs, and enjoy your suave new Twitter bio.
Look, the key word here is “side.” Until we lose the “side” in “side hustle,” this venture should remain less important than other critical parts of your life. I’m not saying you should abandon it, and sure, if you really want to put in your 100% effort into a non-business, go for it.
The fact remains this is a fun project, and has not earned the right to take over critical time spent on your day-job, friends, Bumble dates, etc, etc. There is no guarantee of any type of success, so don’t jump into important personal life sacrifices that you may never be able to reclaim. Work on it during moments of free time, but if you have to choose between a boozy brunch (plug) with great people or sending out a superfluous email, always go with the former. Quite simply, don’t lose sight of the things that matter.
It’s the experiment lab, a testing ground, a playground to get stuff out there, see what sticks, and keep getting more stuff out there (your friends will always be your friends no matter how many posts/pages you tell them to “like”). The beautiful part of looking at a side project as just that is you allow yourself to take significantly more risks than you would have otherwise.
By taking those risks, you can uncover new strengths and de-emphasize some of your weaknesses. For instance, I’ve realized I actually enjoy video editing equally as much as going on camera. It’s a really neat process, and I never would have discovered this activity without a project like Brunch to freely test different skills. As far as numbers & finance…we are far from out here.
All of us have ideas, sometimes they may actually be a (gasp) good idea, but it’s still fundamentally an idea. Hey, some of us even push forward with these mysterious ideas. We get a logo, maybe a website, send a few emails, possibly a customer or two, BUT, we really don’t create a true business.
Through my experience with Brunch, I’ve realized how hard it is just to get those baby steps up and running let alone world-changing, profitable companies. Today, the word “entrepreneur” is often blighted, misused, “buzzword-y”, etc, but true entrepreneurs still exist and the Travis Kalanick’s, Jonah Peretti’s, and Brian Chesky’s of the world deserve our utmost respect and admiration.
It is SO hard to start anything, let alone a company that makes $1000, or $10,000 so on and so forth. Seeing first hand how difficult it is gives me great respect for these leaders who not only worked incredibly hard, but made sacrifices not too many folks would ever make.
With that said, it’s been an absolute blast, but a humbling experience, nonetheless, working on Brunch Media. Most importantly, I’ve learned there is still so much development, training, and knowledge left to gain before I can give it my best effort to reach the ultimate destination.
I started my first business at 14. It was a pressure washing company. At that time, I did not know what the word entrepreneur meant. All I knew was that people needed their driveways pressure washed, and my best friend and I could do it while making $50-100 per hour. We ran that business for 3 years. I used the money I made to buy my first car.
The second business I built was a landscaping business. At 18 and 19 respectively, my partner and I grew the business to 20 employees and 120 weekly clients. By that point, I had a little bit more business knowledge than when I was 14 and knew the definition of an entrepreneur. However, I was still living with my parents and did not know the stress of financially supporting myself. I did not know what it was like to build a business and have it be my only financial support system.
Today, I am 21 years old and the founder of Force Media, which is a podcast production company. We use podcasts as a content marketing tool to help grow our client’s business.
I start the story off with all of this info to give a little bit of perspective. In my previous businesses, I did not have to financially support myself, and I had a business partner.
Now, I’ve lived on my own for 2 years, the only money I make is from the company, and I do not have a business partner
It’s funny because “entrepreneur” is the biggest buzzword in the business world. Everyone wants to be an entrepreneur. There are so many people that brag about having a startup, building their own business and working for themselves. Those people are in business for the wrong reasons and probably won’t make it very far.
The reason I started a business is I believe we only have one life to live, and we should spend it building our own dreams, not someone else’s.
Due to social media, there is this impression that entrepreneurs get to travel the world, speak at incredible companies, work whenever we feel like it, and just have the best life ever.
Do all those things happen? Yes. They can happen, and they have happened to me. I have traveled around the world, I have spoken at awesome conferences, I have taken days off work because I control my schedule, and I do love my life.
However, do not believe the lies that a newsfeed tells you. We don’t share the difficult times because we don’t want to look weak.
Well, guess what world? It’s time to pull back the curtain and peek into my mind and daily life.
Each day I usually wake up depressed and scared. I am depressed because I think about how I am nowhere that I want to be in my business and that we do not have enough money coming in. I am scared to fail because if we don’t start making more money soon, we are going to have to close up shop.
I usually spend 20-30 minutes reminding myself of why I started on this journey and when I build up enough confidence, I get out of bed to start my day.
Next, I sit in front of my computer and try to decide what is the most important that I need to accomplish for that day. What is going to push my business forward? Sometimes I just stare at my computer for an hour paralyzed by all the daunting tasks ahead. There is no guarantee that any of my ideas are going to work, so I don’t know where to start.
Then I’ll answer 10-20 useless emails that make me feel productive when in reality they are just time wasters.
Finally, I’ll get started on some type of work that is actually productive. After doing this for a few hours, doubt will start to creep back into my mind that I am worthless, and I don’t have what it takes to build a business. I tell myself I should quit and go work my way up in a corporate company. At least in another company, there is more of a set path that I can go on.
At this point, I usually leave my apartment and go on a walk to clear my head. I will call my mom, brother or a friend to brighten my day so that I don’t get even more depressed.
Once I finish talking I go back inside to try and get more work done but usually get lost in the chaos.
Should I try to find a new client? Should I work on a current client’s project? Do my clients even like me? Does my business even provide value to my clients? Why am I even trying to build a business?
It’s a vicious circle. I could go on and on, but I’ll be beating the same bush.
I am depressed daily. I fake confidence every day. I cry once a week because I am so stressed, anxious and angry.
The “cool” activities that everyone sees is what I let you see. It’s what I want the world to see, but that’s unfair because everyone is going through a struggle we know nothing about.
The things that have helped me is reminding myself why I started on this journey, venting to loved ones, and making sure I participate in non-work related activities (karate, bowling, working out).
Will the business fail? I have no idea. What I do know is I am not going to give up. The fragility of life is my motivation. We can die at any second so we need to confront our fears and not back down when life is tough.
A comfort zone is great, but nothing ever grows there. Whether you’re a business owner, a corporate employee or an alien from Mars…ask yourself what you want out of the world ,and go take it. No one is going to give it to you.
If you ever want to vent, you have an ear to listen.
The most honest account of an entrepreneur’s life … On dying, girls, building a million dollar empire, etc. A great story about an incredible adventure, not dancing so fast, appreciating where you are in the present, having fun, and enjoying the journey