I thought I knew how to run a business before I actually started running one

By Hazel Addley

I thought I knew how to run a business before I actually started running one. But the reality of it turned out to feel completely different to what I expected.

Before I ran my own business, I was around businesses run by others my whole life. Some of my earliest memories are of my dad manufacturing his product and running his shop. I then went on to live with a relative who also ran several businesses over the time I lived there. As a teenager I was used to picking up the home telephone and giving an automated business greeting and taking a message about orders required.

Then as an adult my partner also ran a business that for a few years I worked in too, and it became commonplace to talk ‘shop’ in our downtime and theorise over what needed to happen to improve it.

However it hadn’t occurred to me that in each of these cases I wasn’t the one running the business. I did not have the responsibility or the pressures that came with it. So I could sit on the sidelines and dish out helpful advice and offer a practical hand from time to time – which I know was valuable, however I simply wasn’t in charge so I didn’t have the full picture about what was right for the business.

So what is different when running your own business? Well, for starters, the buck stops with you.

You are responsible for every element. To a younger me that would have sounded wonderful. However I underestimated just how isolating and pressured that can feel. The weight of making the right decision for my business survival at every turn.

Secondly, the juxtaposition of managing the fact that when you run a business you do think about it all the time like it is part of you, but equally in order for it to be successful you need to separate it from yourself and your life too.

And thirdly, that there are many helpful others on the sidelines, like I used to be with the businesses of others around me, and that that is a blessing and a curse. Having support is imperative when running a business. You cannot do it alone.

However you also need to be able to rake through all the advice you are getting and work out what is best for your business and your customers. So in amidst the sense of pressure to make the right decisions for my business, my headspace being filled up with constant business thoughts, and fielding the advice from others to extract what is best for my business, I would also like to add that running a business has been the most challenging, fun and stimulating thing I have done in my life to date.

It may not be as I expected, but I do indeed love doing it! What has been unexpected for you in running your business?

Hazel Addley coaches creative professionals and business owners who are feeling frustrated, stuck or wheel spinning in their professional life. She focuses on supporting the person being the business to help them move forwards with clarity, confidence and greater resilience, which in turn benefits the business. www.hazeladdleycoaching.com

1 reply
  1. Julie Davies
    Julie Davies says:

    Great blog post Hazel! I remember some advice I was given (in relation to a non-business matter) and that all advice was like a smorgasbord – you need to pick and choose what suits you! Good luck with your continued success.

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