Becoming self-employed is one challenge not to be underestimated.
As a woman with no business experience, but a wealth of driven passion, I've seen this journey stretch me in ways I never imagined.
The practical business lessons are a given. From sales to marketing to developing a deep understanding of your customer, it's a never ending lesson in business development.
The unprecedented growth in ourselves as complex, emotionally-charged humans was something that completely surprised me. I've seen it in myself and the hundreds of women I've connected with during this journey. The desire to become successful on our own terms and take full ownership of our lifestyles isn't an easy ride.
It's stressful. Particularly when you're worrying when or how you're going to pay the bills or when your brilliant idea finally goes out into the world only to collect virtual dust.
It can be exhausting. Particularly when you spend many hours a week getting through the hundreds of items on your to-do list. Not to mention all the housework, kids, shopping and life that happens outside of business.
It can be extremely rewarding too. Making that first sale or nailing a partnership deal can send you into a festive party mood within seconds.
It truly is a roller coaster ride of emotions.
The biggest lesson I have learnt through my own roller coaster ride and talking to others in the same boat is this: You can only rely on yourself to save you.
Yes, support and guidance from others is absolutely critical. But at the end of the day, the responsibility for the success of your business sits solely on your shoulders.
As I write this, I'm grappling with a situation of low cash flow. It doesn't help that my partner is also self-employed and also dealing with a lack of cash coming in. I'm not responsible for his business, but it also highlights how I cannot rely on him to support me financially through this period. I write that with love, not disappointment.
It's serving as a valuable reminder to shoulder the responsibility of success.
As business women, we empower ourselves to be independent. To support our own drives, ambitions and hopefully, a stellar shoe collection. It is entirely up to us to make that happen.
It means accepting setbacks and 'failures' as valuable lessons. Not as signs that we cannot do this.
It means asking for help from the right people. Not trudging along with steely determination on a well-worn path towards burnout.
It means being the bridge between your ideas and outcomes. Not rendering yourself into fantasy land through lack of action.
We cannot rely on others to achieve our standards of success. It requires a consistent effort in output, regardless of those times when we feel we can't go on any further. It's our own drive and actions that get us out of ruts.
It's worth mentioning that this responsibility also includes managing your health and mental wellbeing. You can only provide so much as the energy you have to give. Your decisions, ability to manage daily tasks and implement a strategy to turn your business into a thriving enterprise can all be boiled down to your ability to actually act. A stressed mind cannot make clear choices. A business cannot survive without smart decisions. A business cannot not thrive without innovation. And a tired, exhausted mind cannot have any hope of finding an innovative strategy. It really is one big continuous loop: The health of your business relies on the health of you.
I have recently hired a business mentor for extra advice. I am under no illusion that this mentor is going to save my business and get me out of this sense of 'stuckness'. In fact, I see them as filling the gaps of my knowledge and providing me with ample 'stress relief' through strategic guidance. I have learnt and gratuitously accepted that it is up to me to grace responsibility for my business.
Advice and guidance from others only goes as far as you applying it. They can help you, but they can't save you.
Only you can.