My One-Year-Old Monsters

It’s been officially a year today. A year of no paycheques, no health benefits, no vacation time. No nine a.m. starts, no staying indoors all day staring at a computer screen, no monstrous amounts of unpaid overtime. (Okay, I lied, all of those things have happened, and worse.) I love that I can say that I’ve been running my own business for a year and I’m still in love with it.

I’ve had the chance to work with a huge range of companies and people over the past year, producing a range of different projects. I’ve done newspaper ads, illustrations, resumes, and a whole slew of websites, logos, business cards, and brochures. I’ve learned how to use Quickbooks, I’ve streamlined my processes, I’ve learned some AJAX techniques, I’ve rewritten my CMS code base, I’ve read about grids and typography and golden ratios. I’ve lost out on contracts, and I’ve taken on projects that thrilled and challenged me. I make an awful lot less money now than I used to, and I probably work harder. But it’s just so much fun.

However, my one-year-mark is a time for serious consideration. What’s my goal here? Where am I going? How is my little business going to grow up? And, most importantly, how can I keep doing what I love, stay sane, and make enough money to keep me in chocolate and red wine for the rest of my life?

I am coming to realize that:

  1. Delegate, delegate, delegate. I am a creature of many talents, but I am not any of the following: Salesman. Accountant. Programmer. Mechanic. Stop thinking you can do everything, and start spending more of your time doing what you are good at and do enjoy.
  2. Nothing comes quickly. Projects will take longer than you expected to reach completion. A two-minute fix will turn into a two-hour session of slamming your head against the wall. Sometimes you’ll put an inordinate amount of time into researching an estimate for a project you’re not awarded, only to be handed a bigger and better project a year down the line. A lot of what I do is investment.
  3. It is great to be a workaholic, but make sure you get at least three seconds of fresh air every day.
  4. Stop taking things so personally. Not everyone can think you’re the next coming, and some days, you will just suck. This does not necessarily mean that you are a total failure in all areas of your life, and it is certainly not cause for a mental breakdown.
  5. Nancy Reagan was right, sort of. Sometimes, you should “just say no”. As a small-business owner, it’s easy to fall into the trap of jumping at anything that dangles a cheque in front of you, but that’s not really why you’re in this business, anyway, and it’s certainly not the most important factor to consider.

These are my monsters. I’m hoping that, by this time next year, I’ll have massacred at least half of them.