Starting a new business is an exciting time of your life, so much to hope for, endless possibilities for success. There will be a tough time too but you are ready for them. But it is important to understand where the challenges lie ahead. When I started my business, I had endless hope and a touch of innocence, everything would be wonderful, I would get loads of clients and we would all be happy. And for the most part that has indeed happened, but there was an internal journey going on as well as the external one and this is what I want to share with you today so that you can spot them a little quicker than I did.

1. Some People Will Never Understand What You Are Doing

There will be people in your life, even your close circle of family and friends, who will not understand why you have decided to be self-employed and start a business. There will also be those who do not understand the value of your product/service. Their comments may not be helpful and most likely are coming from their own experience and not about the journey that you are taking. They are not your customer and they will not be the inner circle of support for you on this business journey. It is important to make peace with this as soon as you can, you can still love and respect these people and have them as close as you need, but they will not be your reference point in your business.

2. The Workload Is Endless.

The life of the self-employed is all-encompassing, you are the chief, cook, and bottlewasher for your business. One minute you are speaking with potential buyers, the next minute you are sorting out finances with your accountant, and then writing blogs and social media posts. You are solely responsible for all aspects of your business. You could be working 24 hours a day and still not be done, that is the joy and pain of being self-employed. It is really important that you do not get caught in this rhythm of your business taking over your life.

What can help you is to have a clear plan of your day, your week, your month and set goals accordingly. Look at the pressure points of each week, ensure that you have created enough time and headspace to ensure you can achieve your goals. Remember that everything cannot be done all the time so prioritise what really needs doing now. There will always be distractions and competing priorities but if you can carve out your diary to support you then this will get easier.

Another thing I recommend is making sure there is space in your diary to eat, exercise, take breaks. It sounds obvious but it is one thing that I hear from my clients that can catch them.

3. Procrastination Could Be A Symptom Of Something Bigger.

Procrastination to me is like pushing your peas around your dinner plate, not sure what to do with them, avoiding them to the last minute when you are forced to act rather than choosing to act. But procrastination is a choice too- choosing to avoid certain work. My invitation to you is to look at your procrastination, look really hard at why you are avoiding this particular act.

Are you avoiding it because you are afraid of it? or are you not sure how it fits into your plan? was it someone else’s idea? Are you waiting for a better option? Do you know a better option and are afraid to take it? Sometimes your reluctance to do something can be born from a gut feeling and sometimes it can be coming from your inner critic telling you to play safe, or that you are not good enough. I would always encourage people to listen to their gut but remind the inner critic that you are in charge.

Procrastination acts a bit like clutter, if you don’t tackle it straight away, it will continue to niggle at you until you work on it. Brian Tracey, author of “Eat the Frog” suggests that “if it’s your job to eat a frog, it is best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it is your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest on first”.

4. You Don’t Have To Go It Alone.

I have been very fortunate to have a supportive circle of business friends, but that didn’t happen overnight. I reached out in different ways and made great friends along the way. One of the key things that instrumental in finding this support was joining a business network. This gave me the opportunity to meet like-minded people going through on a similar journey and supporting each other through challenging times. There is nothing more satisfying for me than knowing that if I have a problem that I need teasing out, that I can pick up the phone to someone for support.

I also get real pleasure in helping others on their journey, sometimes it can be easier to solves challenges when you have some distance from them.

There are other ways of getting support, most government agencies offer free mentoring or training in business development. The Local Enterprise Offices are a mine of information and support for business. Reach out to them and ask for help. It will open you up to a whole new world of knowledge and creativity.

You can also get support from a Business Coach, someone who is completely on your side, someone who will challenge you to do better in your business, holds you accountable, and helps you stay focused.

5. There Is Always A Better Way To Build Your Business.

There are a hundred ways to build your business and as your business develops you will learn new strategies and practices that will help you grow and evolve. And you will read loads of ideas that have worked for others, lots of tantalising pitches about getting your first 6 figure business.

For me, the best place to start is where you are right now. This means looking at the resources you have right now, not just financial resources but also energy resources. Do you have time, do you have energy, and do you have support? Sometimes it can be the smallest change in your business that can make the biggest difference to you. Make it a practice to reflect on your business, on your work practices and systems you have put in place. Make one change each time that will improve your life and business.

Allow space in your diary for creativity, and reflection, give yourself permission to take time to step back from the day to day and look at the bigger picture. Make yourself a vision board, which will reflect images of where you want to be in 3-5 years’ time. Get help in carving this time out, join a group or a class to bring structure in your reflecting times.

Owning a business is like having a baby, it is precious and we can be very precious about it too. There is an old saying that it takes a village to raise a child, and when it comes to business this is also the case. We cannot do it on our own, we rely on people to buy our products and we rely on others to supply their service to our business. If we become too precious and insular about our business, we may lose opportunities to reach out and learn and grow. I have met and been inspired by so many new people since I started my business and that is what has enhanced and developed my business along the way.