Hi, my name is Kali. I’m the founder of Blush. And I’m going to tell you what no one else will tell you about starting your own business.
Chances are you either know me or work with me, or you’ve seen my writing elsewhere (hopefully?). So you probably know that I started Blush roughly two years ago – three if you count the development – which puts me back in my early twenties.
Oof. Whatta process.
Starting Blush was an emotional beast. Somehow I managed to get by and keep this company growing (which is beyond me) and am still at it today, so I must be doing a few things right. But I also know for *sure* I am doing plenty of things wrong. And I will continue to do things wrong. Because that’s just how it goes.
But you know what? No one tells you that. And I wish someone had, so that I could have potentially avoided feeling crushed at the weight of my mistakes.
But, like I said, no one told me. So I’m going to tell you!
I know there are a lot of budding entrepreneurs out there trying to figure out the right time or place to launch their business. It can be really intimidating, but it’s also an amazing undertaking. Even with all the setbacks, I am glad I did it. But ideally, I’d like to make the transition just a tad bit easier for you. Luckily I have zero filter and totally don’t mind letting you in on my experiences – so I’m here to give you the rundown about what no one tells you about starting your own business. Hope you enjoy 🙂
No One Tells You How to Run Your Day
When you wake up in the morning, your agenda is completely up to you. It’s not like you have some magic biz fairy that drops a checklist for you to accomplish by 6pm that evening.
Nah. I wish.
Instead you have to manage your time and make sure you stay on tasks. It also means you have to keep coming up with new projects and continue to innovate as much as you can.
You also don’t have anyone to quality check your work, there are a useful work tool that makes our job easier “Soda PDF” I recommended. That’s on you. So any spelling errors (I’m guessing there are probably five or six in this blog), quick decisions, emails, quality control, technology fails or anything else falls on you. ON YOU. Even if you literally didn’t have anything to do with it – it’s definitely your fault. You run the day. You are the boss. You are the end all be all. Accountability is your new bestie. And it can be paralyzing and exciting and nerve-racking and thrilling all at the same time. So my advice is to embrace the fact that you’re el jefe, cause you ain’t going anywhere.
It Can Be Very Lonely
Let’s just get this out of the way first: I am an introvert. A big introvert. In fact, I might as well be Queen of the Introverts. I can sit inside and write and design and think all day every day. Seriously like Friday nights at home are THE BEST THING EVER! Why would anybody leave when Hulu just released The O.C.??!?!? There are some sick people out there, guys.
But even I have to admit that starting a business has been rather lonely.
Of course I am an extreme example because I work from home and do most things myself (we will get to why later), but even if I did work outside of the house I still think it would be pretty lonely. There are a lot of decisions that you simply can’t make with others. There are aspects of the business that you just can’t discuss with anybody outside of a few chosen people. And every time you tell someone at a gathering or a cocktail party about what it is that you do, it feels like you’re pitching. It’s hard to just connect with someone over the business, because as a professional and the face of the company, you’ve always got to put your best foot forward, and I am not saying you should not get help with your business, I am just saying you should do it on specific times when it is really needed, as an example, getting a business plan writer when starting off your company can be a great idea to set your bases.
Sometimes all I want is to work at a big company with a ton of employees and go bitch about how tough our jobs can be with a bunch of tipsy coworkers at our weekly happy hour. I want to feel like I’m apart of something. But the reality is I am apart of something. Something that I created – and I’m very proud of it. Remembering that is what keeps me grateful.
Anxiety Can Become an Issue
When you start your own business, there is nothing worse than the first negative email aimed directly at you. Except maybe the second. Or the third. Or hell, they all suck.
I once received an email that shamed me for allowing “such terrible writing” to be displayed on a site geared towards empowering women. As the CEO I should be embarrassed and step down. I’m assuming she didn’t catch the author bio that clearly states my name under, oh I dunno, like, every other blog post.
After choking back hot tears and trying to catch my breath, I replied offering her life coaching on the house to deal with her grammar-anger issues.
She didn’t like that very much.
But the point is, running a business is enough to make your anxiety spike on a recurring basis. I swear I have developed a minor phobia to email alerts on my phone. Every time my email goes off, deep down there is a part of me that is convinced it’s a negative comment, a cancellation, or a technology fail ready to ruin my day. I have had to start to limit my telpehone and internet work hours so that I can assure myself some peace on the daily. Setting up a Nexgen phone system for small businesses to help me handle incoming calls and customizing my email preferences and alerts has gone a long way to mediate my stress. And trust me, I’m trying to become more resilient and less sensitive, but it’s pretty hard!
However…NOTHING could top my most recent crisis. Guys. OMG. It was so bad.
Someone TERRIBLE opened up a third party payment system under the name “joinblush.com” and made unauthorized charges to credit cards THEY had stolen. This is not a drill. I got calls and calls and calls from angry people claiming “joinblush.com” had charged hundreds of dollars on their credit card, and we had absolutely nothing to do with it.
Of course my clients are totally safe. Blush wasn’t compromised at all. It was company identity theft, so we be solid. Someone seriously used our name to cover up a hack, and I had to deal with the backlash of talking to plenty of angry people who had zero connection to Blush whatsoever (“I DO NOT WANT ANY OF YOUR STUPID MAKEUP!”) who also happen to love using cuss words when describing women.
Whoever that person is, rest assured they do not receive any light or love from me ever. EVER. EVERRRRR.
Of course, most of the time emails and phone calls are either super boring or rather pleasant. A lot of people want to sign up. A lot of people want to offer their business services. A lot of people want to be coaches. A lot of people read the blogs and want to give positive feedback. It’s nice. But it’s not enough to take away from the fact that managing anxiety is always going to go hand in hand with entrepreneurship for me, and I think that’s pretty common.
Awhile ago I was having a conversation with a friend about finances and cash lenders. He is *super* well off but was being a good sport and trying to talk to me about the stress of money. As a business owner you always have to be conscious of your expenses; it’s the name of the game.
As we were discussing these dynamics, I whined about how sometimes I feel like my money gets in a lovers spat with the bank and packs up a suitcase and runs away. My friend empathetically nodded and said something to the extent of, “That makes sense, though. You have a starving baby at home.”
I wasn’t sure if he was talking about Andrew or Blush. Both fit the bill. But after about a two second pause I decided to go with the latter. And honestly, I hadn’t heard a better description of owning a business in a long time.
Blush devours everything. It wants so much energy and money that you would seriously think it was a spoiled teenager demanding a first class sweet sixteen birthday party complete with a performance by Miley and a petting zoo in the back. So my relationship with Blush is a constant balance. What does Blush need vs. what can Blush afford. Sometimes I overshoot and sometimes I undershoot, and it’s hard.
It really helps that I work from home. Office space isn’t cheap, plus I don’t think many girls would want to have sessions with a life coach who is sitting in a public workspace anyway. The silver lining is that every Blush purchase is a tax write off (yay!) and I’m investing my money in something that continues to provide returns. So yes it’s difficult, but it’s also worth it.
Hiring is Awkward
Err so awkward.
I love all of my coaches. All of them. They each bring something so amazing to the table. Danielle is our resident free spirit who can focus on anything from anxiety to healthy living to adolescents. Charlotte is amazing at mending any broken heart and helping teens sort out friendship troubles. Brittaney is my spiritual guru who can inspire you the second you start talking to her. Samantha can sort out anyone’s crazy life by offering healthy habits and strong guidance. And Alex is my tell-it-like-it-is coach who encourages while challenging clients to continuously grow.
They’re awesome. But interviewing was so uncomfortable, and they would be the first to tell you.
I had a bunch of questions ready to go, but you get so nervous. And then you forget to ask stuff. And then you fall in love too quickly or you instantly know it’s not a good fit. There have been times when I’ve made the call to bring someone on, only to be flaked out on later. It just happens.
Plus, it’s kind of uncomfortable judging someone right off the bat. I like to take a second and gather my bearings before making a call about something…but interviewing is all about asking questions and assessing whether or not the answer is compatible with the “Blush brand.”
Hopefully I’m getting better at it and asking the right questions – not just the obvious ones. But with this one, I think practice is the only way to get better.
You Open Yourself Up to A Lot of Criticism
Starting your own business involves talking about your business. And promoting your business. And writing about your business. The more eyes on your website, articles, videos, social media, or interviews the better. But not everybody likes what they see. And some people don’t realize that they could just go on about their day.
But it’s not just the hateful comments (NEVER READ THE COMMENTS) or the shaming emails (see above) that I’m talking about – it’s the constant conversation about what I could be doing better.
I like to be as honest as possible. It just feels good to open up. So when I finally find a moment where I don’t feel like I have to pitch or impress, I like to put it all out there. Just be real. But what I’ve found is a lot of people like to use that opportunity to let me in on the secret of everything I’m doing wrong. And that’s just no fun.
I am a naturally sensitive person, which plays to my favor during coaching, but not so much as a boss. I take Blush personally. Probably too personally. I actually personify her a lot. She’s a person in my mind. And she is a complete reflection of myself and my work. So when someone doesn’t like her or thinks she could be doing *way* better, it hurts my feelings. I feel like I’ve let her down. I feel like a disappointment. And it sucks.
I know people mean well and they’re just trying to help, and the sting has subsided the more and more I tell myself that. Luckily I’ve found that I’m not the only person who feels this way, either. Plenty of entrepreneurs have to balance the criticism with the primal protection we have over our businesses.
You Do Everything. Seriously, Everything.
Unless you are a super fancy human who has a VC backed company, you’re gonna be doing it all while flying solo.
And I mean everything. You are going to be writing. You are going to be tweeting. You are going to be implementing. You are going to be organizing. You are going to be providing the service. In fact, when Blush first started, every single client who signed up went straight to me because I needed to eat food.
Thank you for joining Blush! Welcome! You are assigned with Kali because she is broke as a joke but also loves coaching so YAY FOR YOU!!!!
Luckily all of my original clients were *ballers* and a lot of them are still with me today. Hugs and kisses to all my boos.
Point is, if you are going to start a business, you are going to have to do a lot of prep and even more improvising. There are PLENTY of business coaches who can promise you results if you do a, b, and c…but in reality a lot of it has to be done as you go. You can’t possibly cram in every single piece of biz literature before you launch. You just can’t. And if you did you would have so much contradicting information floating through your head that you probably would never go through with it.
So just trust your instincts and your ability to figure it out, and go with it. You won’t get it right the first time. You might not get it right the fifth time. But eventually you will find your own rhythm, and a lot of it will be self-taught.
It Will Be Worth It
You will learn so much that each year you’ll look back on the year before and wonder how you ever lived without all the new information you acquired. You will feel proud, challenged, excited, and inspired constantly. You will actually light up when you get to talk about your chosen field. And those are the moments that will keep propelling you to create.. it will be hard at the very beginning
As much as this blog wasn’t really supposed to be about the positives (sorry guys!) – the positives are pretty obvious. You get to create and execute something you love every day. You don’t hate Mondays. You are able to impact the world with your special sauce. It’s pretty magical. And I think you owe it to yourself to at least try. Even if your idea doesn’t take off – so what? You don’t stop working. You don’t stop pivoting. You keep innovating and learning and trying. Trust me, I covered most of the bad things about starting a business, and I am pretty sure all of you can handle it. If I can, you can.
To any veteran entrepreneurs, I hope you found some of this relatable! And to any aspiring entrepreneurs, I’m wishing all of you the most positive vibes towards your upcoming journey. Feel free to comment below if you have any questions or want to point out spelling errors. I’m down for both!