So, you've decided to start a business? And you have some chronic illness?
The School of Hard Knocks is a tough teacher.
It's even tougher when you throw chronic illness into the mix.
Maybe I can spare you some of those lessons (or at least, prepare you for them...).
Two years ago, I embarked on a journey of discovery: Re-discovering myself, discovering what made my soul sing, discovering my limits and then discovering ways to overcome them. I've learned a few things, and a few lessons I'm still learning.
I made some very tough decisions, and in some ways, those choices made life far more difficult, but they are paying off in the long run. But, those choices aside (not all were made as informed decisions), here's what I've learned:
- It is possible to start up a business with zero debt. Granted, your options will be limited until you start making money, and you will be funding anything you do out of your own pocket, but it is possible. - I've done this with two businesses. They are still growing, and still not turning a profit, but they are labors of love at this point, and we know what's possible.
- Nothing is going to happen over night. If you're expecting to get rich quick - rethink it. There are TONS of scams out there, with ads that you can get rich off affiliate marketing with little effort and fast results. If you're starting at zero, however, the only person who's going to make money, is the guy advertising his "easy technique".
- The internet is littered with free courses for just about everything you need to know to run a business. This is true - just be wary. Many are just minimal information to get you to buy their (frequently very expensive) program. Not all, mind you. And some of those pricey coaching programs are probably very worth it for the student. Do your homework if you decide to go with a paid coach, and make sure you pick one that is right for you. The one paid resource that I absolutely recommend for its sheer depth of knowledge and variety of courses is, of course, Skillshare. If you aren't already a member, be sure to check them out. Just click the image at the end of this blogpost and you'll get a month of premium membership for free. And you know I'm a Skillshare Ambassador, which means that when you sign up, I get a small commission, at no cost to you.
- You can only do so much. Unless you can afford to hire someone to help you out, even if you invest in the myriad online apps and websites to help you manage things - You are one person. You have 24 hours in a day. And you are already working at a disadvantage because of chronic illness. Am I saying it's impossible? Nope. Not at all. I'm doing it (times 2!), but I frequently have to back up and rethink things, because I am exactly ONE person, with about 12 hours of work time per day that I can manage, 5-6 days a week. And even with that schedule, I have to plan at least one 4 day weekend a month, or I end up in flare up, stuck in bed, crying in pain. Because that's just the truth of my situation.
- Your life will revolve around your business. Okay, maybe this one's just me, but I find that I've managed to repurpose my whole life around my business. Pretty much everything I do, from wake up to nightly crash, has to do with SOMETHING in one or the other business (or both... frequently both). And if I don't look like I'm working, somewhere in my brain, I'm pondering what step to take next, what tweak I need to execute tomorrow, or where I'm falling short of my goals. I frequently wake Hubby up with questions like, "What if we tried this for the newsletter?" or "When's the next library book sale?" And while this corner of my brain is grinding away at business stuff, another part of my brain is grinding away at one or two manuscripts that are currently lying untouched, because I simply don't have time at the moment.
- Take things one step at a time. When I started out, I was listening to business gurus who had millions of followers, and millions of dollars in business every year. Which isn't a bad thing, really. I've returned to following many of those people, after a period of throwing my hands up in the air and walking away from ALL of it for a bit. Because I tried to do EVERYTHING they were ALL saying needed to be done. I learned it isn't ALL necessary for growth. And if you're operating solo and on a zero balance budget? You can't possibly do it all at the get-go. I've also learned that it doesn't work well to try to grow more than one platform at a time. It's overwhelming and nothing else gets done (you know, like... blogging and producing a marketable product...). You might add 3,000 new Twitter followers, 300 new Instagram followers and 500 new followers on Facebook in a month, but while you're working those new contacts, you don't have time for the other stuff. I realized this around the second week of February (yes, I know, really recent lesson, yes?), when I took the Twitter Marketing That Sells challenge. Yes, it was only 14 days. But the Twitter accounts blew up from one hundred followers (the bookstore didn't even have that many, I think) to almost 2,000 EACH, by the end of February. And they're still growing. But I didn't get a lot of other stuff done in the meantime, while I learned to manage accounts that size.
- Everything is a learning experience. You will make mistakes. You will have failures. You will have a choice. Every time. You can give up, and go back to the way things were before. Or you can get up, look at the lesson, and move forward again.
Be strong. Push forward. There will be days when it's hard, and you'll consider giving up. Don't. There will be days when you'll question your sanity in doing this. Let them go. If you're doing what makes your heart sing, there will always be a way to make it work. You will stretch yourself to the limit, and some days, you'll feel like you're going to snap. Breathe.
You can do this. I promise.