What did you think running a business was going to be like anyway?

‘I run my own business.’

‘I’m an entrepreneur.’

‘I work for myself.’

It’s great to be able to say these things, right?! It seems sexy and sleek to others when they hear that you work for yourself. It means you’re successful because you don’t have someone else telling you what to do. You call the shots and have the freedom to do whatever you want! That’s incredible! And very few of us calls them out and tell them what it’s really like. We allow them just to see the tip of the iceberg and not all the other bits that come with it. The fact is, that ‘you work for yourself’, you are both your boss and your employee.

Anyone who is self-employed in any capacity has learnt that working for yourself doesn’t mean that you have complete freedom. In fact I know A LOT of people who have less freedom since they became self-employed. After the novelty of getting merchandise printed and setting up your flashy website the real work starts. You realise that clients aren’t just going to come flooding through your doors.

‘What?!’ I hear you cry!

Yes, you actually have to tell people who you are and what you have to offer!

I feel that at this moment in time entrepreneurship is a bit of a fad. Everyone is having a go and thinking that they have the next big idea. The really sad thing about this is that they often think that if they don’t have that big idea then they are failures. I don’t see many people go into entrepreneurship because they want that way of life, they go that way because they think it’s a get rich quick scheme and if they follow a process from a £20 e-book they’re set for life. If that doesn’t work then they’re done.

I want to tell you the story of how I got into ‘working for myself’. The truth is that I never even knew it was an option until I was about 18. Yeah, I knew people made companies and some people worked for themselves but I thought they were on another level that I could never get to. You needed a special degree or to be academically talented to even have a chance and even then it was 1 in a 1,000,000. It never really was on my radar that I could be self-employed, an entrepreneur.

When I went to university I did Outdoor Leadership where I had my eyes open. It turned out that the most people were self-employed in the sector that I was going to be training in. They were travelling, making money and didn’t have this 9-5 job that I thought was my future. Throughout my time at university my eyes were truly opened to the possibilities that I never thought were there before. It was a revelation to my world. I didn’t have to be a genius to be able to be in control of my time, I didn’t have to have someone else dictate what I do!

I was hooked on the idea, not because I wanted to be a multimillionaire, but because I didn’t want to work for someone else. I bought into the lifestyle for myself because it gave me what I needed at a fundamental level, autonomy and freedom. A little way down the line I got my outdoor qualifications and I was away, freelancing and managing my time how I wanted.

I bought into the lifestyle for myself because it gave me what I needed at a fundamental level, autonomy and freedom.

Luckily, during my time before stepping into self-employment I had others around me at various stages in their own entrepreneurial journey. I had the luxury of learning from others and understood what worked and what didn’t. What I saw was those that thrived and prospered in an entrepreneurial environment weren’t in it for the glossy magazine image we all see. They didn’t care about earning millions. They were pursuing higher achievements for themselves. Whether it was freedom, flexibility, ambition, recognition, satisfaction, happiness. Whatever it was that drove them at the highest level, money wasn’t it.

Really a business is a massive personal development journey. You get tested in all sorts of ways and what most people see at a glance is the money. They see fruits of your labour, they don’t see you sowing the seeds. Money is never king. Yes, we need money to turn our businesses over. Yes, we need money to invest in ourselves and the business. But money is never the end goal.

Money is no more than a stepping stone to something greater that we want.

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