a power struggle between stress & happiness
I've finally done it.
I've done it! And now... it's time to get to work.
What have I done you ask? This (refer to the fake image below).
What do I mean? I finally fully launched my freelance design & marketing business~
What an emotionally painful and mentally taxing experience this was. I've never wanted something more than this, but I have also never given up on something as much as this. Having a passion for something doesn't always mean you will fulfill that dream. You need a certain level of fortitude to overcome all the many obstacles that come with launching your own business. This is not a how-to article--this is a motivational rant.
The idea to start my own business was something that lingered in the back of my mind after graduating from college in 2011. The initial plan was to graduate and get good a job in my field while freelancing as a side hustle. That idea began to morph rapidly as I realized more and more that I want to work for myself and myself only.
Easier said than done.
Overwhelming Fact #1 - trying to organize my thoughts in order to formulate a solid business plan as well as trying to deep dive into the branding and marketing side of what I want my business to represent and how to do it. This always caused temporary breaks whenever there were mental blocks. Some breaks would last up to 7 months before deciding to work on everything again. I was so adamant about having everything be perfect that I'd completely drop everything if I felt like I would never get to that point.
Overwhelming Fact #2 - taxes and government things. Having an accountant would be a huge relief. A lawyer would be nice too since legal matters are also a hassle. These are aspects that stress me out even now and I'd rather not deal with them at all...
Overwhelming Fact #3 - setting up all the tools, systems, processes, and materials needed to properly conduct business. Most people hire someone like me to do this part, but I ended up having to be the me for myself. The sheer amount of things needed to prepare caused frequent "I quits" due to feeling like I couldn't do everything all by myself. That ever-nagging perfectionist side of me would take root again and make me feel like it was pointless if it couldn't be done up to my impossible standards.
Overwhelming Fact #4 - networking, networking, networking. When starting out you want to get your name and face out there as much as possible within your industry. Putting in the work can be extremely draining for an introvert. And even more exhausting for an extreme introvert like me. Excessive social activities cause excessive recharging needs and recharging doesn't often include being productive--enough said.
Overwhelming Fact #5 - setting rates. For my industry, this is one of the absolute worst things to establish while starting out and oftentimes you'll learn that you have been selling yourself short. We all have to start somewhere though right? You have to tell yourself that so that you don't feel so terrible about the sheer amount of freebies you basically gave away. You gotta think, "I'm just building up my freelance portfolio for bigger opportunities!" and it does help... it really does--seriously!
Overwhelming Fact #6 - fears of failing. I allowed these fears to win time and time again. Missing out on great opportunities simply because "I'm not ready to fail yet" has been one the biggest contributors to my many setbacks. "The sheer amount of progress I could've made had I just accepted that one job that one time" is a thought that has occurred one too many times by now. Having confidence and lacking confidence in the same instance is a ridiculous state of being. How can I tell myself that I'll be successful because I'm driven, passionate, and amazing at what I do and then turn around and refuse good opportunities because I ultimately feel like I'm not good enough? All the while gaslighting myself into thinking I am not the problem. "It's okay Tia, you just don't have the programs you need for this project." or "You've never worked with a big business before as a freelancer. Wait until you're more experienced." or basically any other random excuses that barely made any sense all to merely make myself feel better. This only results in stagnation...
Overwhelming Fact #7 - the work, life, dream balance. This is such a sensitive balance and I already know I'm failing miserably at it. Trying to find time to live a life while working on client projects as well as keeping my own business updated causes the life factor to be constantly overtaken. It's practically an ongoing battle between Tia's life and NEKO's life. Client projects are always number one though!
The Road Ahead
So as you can clearly see by now... it was I, Tia! I was the main culprit in the extremely long (8-year) delay in fully launching my business. Most of the issues I described are normal hurdles one will face in the same situation, but the way I handled everything wasn't the way to go. Even so, I kept coming back to it all. I kept giving up and coming back over and over again until I finally found enough inspiration and drive to stick it out. What could have inspired me so much? I'm sure I'll talk about that in another article...
Now comes the scary part--keeping it all going. It has only been 3 months now (by the time of posting this article) so I have a long way to go from here, but I'm excited! I've never felt more clear and complete with NEKO the way it is now so I'm looking forward to future growth and meeting a lot of interesting clients with unique projects. I'm ready to take on whatever is thrown my way--good or bad. My newly acquired mental fortitude won't be so easily shattered anymore.
I will post periodic updates about this journey of mine. It won't all be sunshine and rainbows and there will be many ups and down and unforeseen twists and turns; but I hope that it will help at least one other person realize that even when they mess up or don't handle things properly, they can still push through the pain and not give up on their dreams. I've only achieved step 1 thus far so WHEN I actually become a successful entrepreneur, my story will hit different. Stay tuned!
Are you currently trying to launch your own business? Are you experiencing any of the hardships I experienced and how are you dealing with them? Share your story!