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The Truth about Running a Small Business

There’s a lot of people out there who run small businesses. A lot of those people (including myself) like to only show the positive side of being your own boss. It’s something I have never done before, and certainly not something I ever foresaw myself doing. There are so many positives to this kind of job, and I love what I do. But there are also many negatives, and that’s something we don’t often showcase. However, I do think that sharing all the struggles that come along with owning your own business not only offers reassurance to those going through the same thing, but also helps to take some of the pressure off yourself. So that’s what I’m going to do today.


The downside to being a small business owner:


1. Lack of Structure


I have really struggled with this one – something I used to think was a strong suit of mine (and applied easily to uni, schoolwork and managing my previous job on top of this) left the building rather quickly when I started my small business, Adelaide Top Tuition. I was so excited about the prospect of growing my business and watching it blossom that I would work around the clock and, eventually, experience burnout. I often found myself working ridiculous hours, with no set schedule or structure. I would stay up until the early hours of the morning editing my website, responding to customers who messaged me at that late hour, brainstorming advertising strategies and creating content. You can only run on adrenaline for so long, and I found this out the hard way. Learning to set boundaries (AKA not replying to customers who message you at 2am over Facebook) was a difficult but important lesson. Ultimately, you and your business run a whole lot better when you are rested, take regular breaks and work during business hours.



2. Financial Instability


Financial instability is inevitable for everyone but gets particularly stressful when your weekly income is completely unpredictable. Some weeks I’ve earned more than I ever have in my entire life, and others I’ve been lucky to have one sale. I’ve learned that part of what I do is seasonal, and I won’t always make a sale (even if I really need it). Part of running a business is understanding your clientele and how you can meet their needs – understanding how to make this work for you financially is difficult, but not impossible. As my business slowly grows, I’m getting better at managing my expenses and knowing when that money is coming in. I know to budget and put money away for the difficult seasons when my cash flow dries up. This is really the only realistic way to guarantee that you’ll survive those slow weeks. Thankfully, the business is now well-known enough that it’s rare I don’t make any income on a particular week.




3. Can’t say ‘no’


My business is my baby. I want it to be the best it can possibly be. I believe in it and I’m proud of it. But naturally, I still have those moments of doubt where I wonder why I’m doing what I’m doing. Acting on those doubts is never a good idea, but it happens. Sometimes you stretch yourself farther than you can go, and you try to be everything for everyone at all times. It’s difficult to deny people requests, especially when you’re still establishing your name. I used to try and please everyone who was remotely interested in what I was doing. I would promise them things I wouldn’t ordinarily do. No good can come from this, and if anything, it makes you and your business look cheap, dispensable and desperate. Not a good look. I’ve learned to stick to my limits and treat every client the same. I no longer make promises to go out of my way or bend over backwards – that’s not how business works. There is always give and take in any transaction, and I realised I was giving far too much. Now, I simply do my best to help everyone without compromising the entire concept of the business.







4. Disappointment


Like with everything in life, disappointment in business is inevitable. Now, I love my business, but there truly hasn’t been a single day where I haven’t been disappointed. Disappointed with my social media platform, disappointed with myself for (at times) feeling unmotivated and uncreative, disappointed for not reaching my sales target. It is extremely difficult to put everything you’ve got into something, all day every-day, and get nothing back from it. Whether that’s an Instagram post that hasn’t taken off the way I would have liked, whether it’s a new product I’ve released that hasn’t been selling, whether it’s a lack of bookings – you name it, I’ve been disappointed with it. It’s especially hard when I’ve had a bad day and I’m disappointed with all of these things. I don’t like to say that all of these disappointments are failures – because they’re not really. Failure is a concept inside of your own head, and you decide what is a failure and what isn’t. I don’t choose to think that anything I create is a “fail”. I’ve moved past that mindset now. But I still get disappointed, and that’s okay with me. I know I’m always going to be disappointed in something; always going to want to fix or adjust or edit something. Once you accept that, and find a way to keep pushing back, it gets easier.



There you have it. Owning a business is hard, no matter how small it is. It’s disappointing, unstable, unpredictable and totally exciting. With the bad comes the good, and the good always outweighs the bad. A day of disappointment is turned around in an instant when you’ve helped someone learn something new. At the end of every day, I always have a reason to smile. That’s the truth about running your very own small business.


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