Have you checked in with yourself lately to see how you’re feeling about your day-to-day business activities? Being a solo entrepreneur means tackling many different tasks each day, everything from responding to customer emails to reordering supplies to meeting with your accountant, and so much more. You’re responsible for dreaming up the big ideas that will take your business to the next level and for sweeping the studio floor at the end of the day.
With so much on our plates, it’s easy to get lost in our daily to-do list and forget to pull back and evaluate how we’re feeling.
I remember years ago working at as a middle school teacher in really tough, rural public school. I was young and inexperienced and found the work of being a classroom disciplinarian to be very difficult. Although I wanted to create a calm environment for my students, I often failed at it completely and things devolved into what felt like chaos. I knew I was struggling despite my best efforts and the way that I knew it was a feeling I had on Sunday nights. It was a feeling I can only describe as dread. Knowing I’d have to go back the next morning and face it all again left me feeling sad, desperate, frustrated, and wishing I could be anywhere but at my job. It wasn’t because I didn’t like my students, or because I didn’t want to be a teacher. It wasn’t because I didn’t’ like the subject matter I was teaching. I enjoyed and, and chose, all of those things. But the way this particular job was set up, the way I was spending my time, made me feel bad.
I came away from those years committed to creating a job for myself that would feel good. I want the minutes and hours of my day to be spent on tasks that bring me satisfaction, excitement, and a sense of accomplishment. Although it’s many people’s dream to “do what you love” and become a professional maker or artist, it’s possible that the tasks involved in making this kind of job a reality can actually cause feelings of dread.
Do you feel frustrated that your inbox is full of emails from customers asking questions you’ve already answered hundreds of times (“How do I download my pattern from Etsy?”). Does having to learn how to use Pinterest to market your business make you feel annoyed? Did you expect that having a creative business would mean spending your time sewing and now feel resentful that you’re actually sitting in front of the computer most of the time?
If the answer to these sorts of questions is yes you’re not alone. I know a lot of creative business owners find customer service annoying, are frustrated by the constant changes in technology and disappointed by the day-to-day reality of owning a business. All is not lost. You may be able to hire help and outsource some of the tasks are bringing you down, or simply write a better FAQ section for your website and set up some autoresponders. It’s also possible you need to readjust your expectations of what owning a business really entails (bookkeeping! taxes!). But none of this can happen if you don’t take a step back periodically and check in with yourself about how you’re spending your work time. If your day-to-day fills you with dread, something is wrong.
The best part about being self-employed is the ability to be nimble. The power to change things is in your hands. If production sewing is making your wrists hurt and isn’t bringing in the profits you’d expected, maybe it’s time to shift your revenue model to patterns. If you’re feeling isolated and out of touch with your customers, maybe it’s time to add live video to your social media strategy.
Continuing down a path that makes unhappy isn’t the recipe for building a thriving, profitable business that sustains you financially and otherwise. So, if you haven’t done it recently, check in with yourself.