6 Lessons From 6 Months of Full-Time Entrepreneurship - Studio Crescent

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6 Lessons From 6 Months of Full-Time Entrepreneurship

HEY THERE!

I am Jess! Ottawa brand strategist and website designer helping passionate service-based businesses grow with confidence through meaningful design. I'm the type of gal that use one too many exclamation mark in my emails and can only have one cup of coffee a day. Weird, I know. If you ever want to chat any thing biz, branding, or well - life, feel free to reach out!

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A couple of weeks ago was the 6-month mark since I had the courage to quit my 9-5 job in pursuing Studio Crescent full-time, or as I like to call it “work freedom”. A full 6 months of full-time entrepreneurship, eeek!

The feeling of handing in my notice wasn’t as “exhilarating” as I thought it would be. Maybe it was because I have been preparing myself for it months before I actually said: “I quit”… or maybe it was because I was doing it alone AND virtually within the four walls of my kid-bedroom-turned-office. Which wasn’t as exciting as it could have been IRL in an office setting.

And more importantly… there wasn’t any champagne-popping-music-blasting-crowds-cheering happening like how you’d envision from a cheesy Netflix movie.

Really, if I am being brutally honest, the transition from “employee” to “entrepreneur” just kind of happened. It’s like the next day, I woke up, and chose to put wear a different hat and put a different outfit on instead of what I’ve been wearing the last 5 years.

BUT, that’s not to say it hasn’t been life-changing, because truly, it has been. Making the decision to go full-time was the first step in ME finally trusting MYSELF — and creating a life that I WANT. So to commemorate the little milestones, I decided to take some time to jot down some lessons learned as a way to reflect and celebrate the 6-month anniversary!

Find A Routine… and Keep to It

One of the initial things I needed to figure out pronto as a full-time entrepreneur was how to adjust to a “new 40-hour work week” and what that meant. When I was running my business part-time, I had gotten a pretty decent idea as to what that perfect balance is between working full-time and running a side hustle. With this new chapter (and a blank slate in front of me), it took me a few months of trial and error to really understand what I can or cannot accomplish in a workweek without overcommitting, burning myself out, or dropping the ball.

A couple of months in, I learned that the best way was to create a routine as if I was working a 9-5, and then to set boundaries within that routine in order to have it actually functional. So for me, it looks something like this:

  • No calls, emails, or client work on Mondays or weekends
  • Discovery calls are only to take place Tuesday/Wednesday
  • No calls before noon and after 5 PM
  • Schedule In 30-minute breaks each day

With that said, I am noticing that I am still very much stuck in the routine of working at my desk throughout the day, as if I am chained to it, like how I used to be during my 9-5. I am hopeful by the time I hit my 1-year mark that I am more flexible and TRULY enjoy the freedom of working for myself. I’m telling you, it’s easier said than done!!

Shift Mindset from Monthly to Quarterly

In January, I had a $13K+ month. I was ecstatic and over the moon about kicking off 2022 off to an incredible start – and just as I was about to hand in my resignation letter. Two months later, I was barely bringing in 4K.

It was a hard pill to swallow and immediately, a flow of emotions and “am I cut out for this” thoughts came rushing through.

What I realize is that when we work a full-time job, the month-to-month paycheque is the stability that was instilled in our minds. However, that’s not necessarily the case when working for ourselves. There will be high and low months, depending on the industry and the rush of inquiries. Looking back at my workload for the last 1.5 years, I noticed that my summers and falls are usually a little bit slower whereas my springs and winters are chaos! Knowing that now, I am looking to map and build my schedule around my slow seasons, which I hope will help me manage my workload and sanity a bit easier.

Make It A Priority To Take Time Off

You know the TikTok trend “You quit your 9-5 to work 24/7”? Yep, it most certainly is true.

This was a lesson that I learned… but have not (unfortunately) mastered. Earlier this year, I had loosely planned to take July off since I was in a wedding party and we were travelling out East with the family. However, the “month off” didn’t end up happening the way that I had envisioned as there were project delays and new clients to onboard. I did end up having 10 days off but at the same time, I also contracted COVID, so it didn’t end up being as much of a relaxing vacation as I’d hoped…

Needless to say, it’s now the end of August, and I am looking back to realize I spent most of my summer working. Do I have regrets? Not necessarily – but I am consciously aware that this isn’t sustainable in the long run and how I want to be spending any future summers. So, I am making a vow to myself that I WILL be more mindful and intentional in booking (and taking) time off in my business – giving myself the space to decompress, relax, and dream.

Wish me luck for next year (especially as we are planning a Greece elopement + honeymoon)!

It’s OK to Start From Scratch

A couple of months before I went full-time, I hired the wonderful Angela to help me streamline my Dubsado workflows and client processes so that I can work more efficiently and have some sort of consistency throughout my projects. At that time, I was beginning to introduce my Design Intensive experiences in order to diversify my offer suite. Of course, being a Type-A planner, I had a pretty good idea of what that might look like process-wise and started mapping out details.

6 months in, I realized that what has worked for me at the beginning isn’t working as effectively anymore… and that it’s OK to scrap everything and start from scratch.

Much like everything else on this earth, we learn, we grow, and we adjust. And that goes the same with systems and processes. Taking in the feedback from previous clients and gaining a better understanding of my own skillset and personality, I am now able to craft a better experience that works for ME and my business. Because the truth of the matter is that what works for someone else will not be as simple as a copy and paste.   

So… let this be a sign to take messy action and see what happens!

Saying No Is Healthy

As someone who suffers from high-functioning anxiety and tends to overthink just a tad too much, one of the toughest life lessons I have been learning over the last 31 years is knowing when and how to say no.

Running a business is no easy feat and when its success and profitability are solely based on “ME”, the pressure is on to keep hustling 24/7. Which sometimes can translate to…

  • Squeezing in a project when my plate was already full
  • Sending over a proposal to a potential client even though there were a couple of red flags
  • Saying yes to doing something outside of scope just to be “nice”
  • Lowering my prices in order to get a “yes” from a potential inquiry

And of course, as these little things add up, so do my anxiety, stress levels, and everything else in between.

While I have been blessed with a full calendar’s worth of work these last 6 months, I have been burning the candles at both ends by saying one too many yes. However, I have begun to recognize my behaviour and patterns, so now, before I utter a “YES”, I give myself at least an hour or two to sit with it prior to responding. No money or project is ever worth that stress.

Relying On Contracts

Ever since I transitioned over to a full-time business owner, I learned to rely on my contracts more diligently with my clients. There are even times when I actually enforced some of the clauses written in there – which is a total first for me (oddly enough). Maybe it was because when I was running my business part-time that I always had my 9-5 to fall back on, so I didn’t feel the need to enforce it as strictly. I’d extend timelines, due dates, or review periods nonchalantly… whereas now, these delays have a much bigger impact on how I schedule projects and work with clients. It can seriously become a domino effect if one or two timelines are slightly miscalculated.

But what I also realized over the last few months is that not only is the contract between a service provider and client a binding agreement that protects one another, but it also is a symbol of respect.

Respecting time.
Respecting energy.
Respecting intellectual property.

Whether it is a mindset shift or part of growing up… now, I don’t feel as guilty openly communicating with a client that they could be charged a project rescheduling fee or delay fee.

Final Thoughts…

A whirlwind of 6 months and I gotta say, I don’t regret my decision to hand in my notice one bit. Yes, there are times when I miss my colleagues or that it feels lonely in my office… but being able to choose the clients I take on and then see their growth skyrocket in front of my eyes is something that is rewarding and simply can’t be put into words.

I am eager to see what the next 6 months will bring!

What’s the biggest lesson you have learned since you started your business or made the transition to full-time? I’d love to know! 👇🏻

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