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Being an entrepreneur: The struggle is real… but the benefits are plentiful

Being an entrepreneur: The struggle is real… but the benefits are plentiful

Being an entrepreneur sounds so glamorous, doesn't it? It is most of the time (well, not quite glamourous but certainly rewarding), but I also believe that we have a responsibility to be honest and talk about the not-so-glamorous parts too.

But because I am a glass-half-full kind of person (most entrepreneurs are, it’s a survival tactic!), I want to start by listing the benefits of being your own boss.

THE TOP 5 ADVANTAGES OF BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR

1.) Flexi time:

Your time is your own, which means you can start and finish work whenever you like. You’re likely to work far more than you would working for a boss, but choosing when you do that is a great benefit. This also means that you can work when you’re the most productive and not between the hours of so-and-so because somebody else decided that’s when you have to work.

2.) Working remotely:

When you’re the boss you also have the freedom to work wherever you like (depending on the nature of your business, of course). That could mean working in your PJs on the couch, at your favourite coffee shop or from a quiet spot in a park. This picture below was taken when I just started with S&V, working on my balcony in Devils Peak, Cape Town.

how to deal with isolation as an entrepreneur - Sugar and Vice

3.) Following your dreams:

Your idea, your initiative, your risk, your reward – being an entrepreneur is a way of doing what you love every day.

how to deal with isolation as an entrepreneur - Sugar and Vice

4.) Being the boss:

Nuff said!

5.) Choosing when you take off:

Want to take a day off to go away for a long weekend? Want to take a seven-week sabbatical? That’s no problem because you don’t need to ask anybody’s permission to do so. Good riddance to mandatory leave at a specific time of year.

how to deal with isolation as an entrepreneur - Sugar and Vice

THE CHALLENGES THAT COMES WITH BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR

1.) Loneliness:

This struggle is very real. There are days where I hardly speak (aloud, because we all “speak” on email) to anybody during the day (when my poor husband comes home from work I talk his ears off!). One tends to miss office banter and water cooler jokes.

2.) Working remotely:

While this is a benefit too, when you’re constantly working for a remote space you can feel very unsettled, which may hamper productivity. If you’re working from a coffee shop you feel obliged to order foods and drinks, which can become an unnecessary expense (and entrepreneurs are always stressing about cash flow) and may not always be the healthiest option.

how to deal with isolation as an entrepreneur - Sugar and Vice

3.) Flexi time:

You can work whenever you like but this often means that you work all the time. Sometimes get so absorbed in your work that you carry on working for way too long, which leaves you feeling drained.

4.) Lack of motivation and drive:

Some days you just feel tired and uninspired, and if you work from home it's easy to find things to distract. It’s time like these that you miss the motivation that comes from just being in a working space with others.

how to deal with isolation as an entrepreneur - Sugar and Vice

5.) Following your dreams:

This also means that you have to do things you don't like. For instance, I love marketing, designing and being creative, but I still have to do the accounting, admin, sales and packing of orders.

6.) Cash flow:

Worrying about managing the money and hoping that you will have enough to pay yourself is a constant struggle. I am yet to meet an entrepreneur who doesn’t worry about money, nearly all the time. 

ENTREPRENEURS ALWAYS LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE

But, like with so many things in life, the more experience you have the easier it becomes to manage something. I'm in my fourth year of business and have found some useful ways to deal with the challenges. Here are some of the things that has helped me maintain my sanity on the entrepreneurial journey:

1.) Build a network:

When your job doesn’t come with colleagues you have to make an effort to find your own. And by this I mean you have to build a network of like-minded entrepreneurs who you can talk to or ask for advice, or simply just hang out with something. I learned quite early on that connecting with others and talking about my struggles and challenges, but also about my victories is very important. At first I was very secretive about my suppliers and processes, but soon realised that sharing is caring. I also knew nothing when I started S&V and googled my ass off and relied on other entrepreneurs to share their secrets with me. So I started engaging more with other boss babes through various social and online channels. This proved to be so successful and everyone was/is so friendly. I loved knowing that I wasn't the only one going through what I do every day.

2.) Create a work week routine:

I am a great believer in routine and habit (and the associated benefits) so I try to start working at the same time every day. On the day when I don’t have Pilates first thing, I start work at 8am. Even if I don’t start at 8, because of errands or over commitments, I still make sure I work for eight hours.

How to deal with isolation as an entrepreneur - Sugar and Vice

3.) Have an end-work time:

When I started S&V there was tons of work to be done and I worked constantly. I was always stressed and thought I couldn’t afford to take a break. This also meant that I was always exhausted and thus not very productive. I’ve learned that not working is as important as working, which is why I am now very strict about sticking to my eight-hour work day rule. Some days it is easier than others, but I force myself to stop working at a certain point each day.

4.) Surround yourself with resources that inspire and motivate:

For those days that you lack drive, I go to Pinterest to search for motivational quotes or blog posts, listen to entrepreneurial or happiness podcasts, listen to my favourite music tracks or organise my office. These help get me back on track.

how to deal with isolation as an entrepreneur - Sugar and Vice

5.) Exercise:

This is one of the most important actions to help you keep calm. As explained above I worked myself to the bone when I started S&V, so I needed something to help me chill the f*** out and to exercise. I've tried a few sports over the years, but being hypermobile meant I ended up with a lot of injuries which left me demotivated. My chiropractor recommended Pilates and I started going three times times a week and haven't stopped since. I forced myself to not think about the exercise and just get up, get dressed and go. I didn't allow myself to think of excuses why I can't go, which was something I often did before. Soon it turned into a habit. My fitness has improved and all my aches and pains are gone. Best of all, it’s my time for MYSELF to relax and do something great for my body and my health.

6.) Don't compare yourself to others:

This is way easier said than done, but comparing yourself to others is not doing you any favours. Everybody’s journey, process, plans and challenges is different, and you likely don’t know half of it so don’t waste time worrying about it. Just because your competitor has a great Instagram feed doesn’t mean they’re not also worrying about cash flow. I’ve made a conscious decision to simply acknowledge what others are doing but focus my energy on the great things S&V is doing.

how to deal with isolation as an entrepreneur - Sugar and Vice

This is just a little insight into my thoughts and processes. If you’re an entrepreneur I would love to hear from you about how you deal with the ups and downs.

Natalie Van Dijk - owner and designer

Jun 08, 2018

This post resonated so much with me- thank you!

Jenny
Jun 08, 2018

It’s been 5 years since I had my own small business in Cape Town (which i closed to go back to UCT and then move to the States) and I’m juuuuust starting another right now. Thank you for this little pep talk – I’m excited for all the positives while being aware of the drawbacks and how best to handle them. Thanks for this, Natalie!

Monica
Jun 08, 2018

Hi there Natalie,

The topic and content are quite inspirational! Very relevant as well… Thank you for this well “thought” and compiled artikel

Chris H
Jun 08, 2018

Thanks for your post!
I am still juggling between a part time job, my entrepreneurial business and being a wife & mom. I totally hear you on all your points…the good and the bad.
It is sooo worth it though and i can’t wait to leave my job and focus totally on my little business!
Love,
Sam xx

sam
Jun 08, 2018

Nat.. this is SO motivational!!
Thank you!!

Louise Finch

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