10 truths about running your own business

10 truths about running a business I wish I'd known 3 years ago
Do birthdays make you introspective? As La Vie en Orange turns three, I've been thinking about where I started and how far I've come. And how exciting the right now is. 

But what do I wish I'd known when I started? Most of these are universal, even if you don't own a business or plan to. And hopefully lots of them will make you giggle. :)

1. Your clients will change your life. 

They are the best. You will celebrate births with them. And weddings. You will mourn loved ones and honor their lives when they pass. They will shower you with kindness and compassion like you couldn't imagine deserving. 
They will get to know you and care about you and trust you. And you will do everything in your power to live with and conduct business with integrity and to take care of them as they take care of you. To be worthy of their time, respect, and warm fuzzies. 
You will miss them when it's been too long since you've last connected. They will be your newest and most precious friends. They hold your livelihood in their hands (and in their pants). And you will trust them with it because they are amazing.

2. Signing a bad contract can eat you alive. 

In time and money lost. In stress stressed. In energy wasted. But it teaches a really valuable lesson, which is:  make friends with an attorney (or, you know, hire a good one) and have her or him read over anything before you sign it. Also, never sign a contract just because you're being pressured to do so. Especially when you are concurrently delirious with back pain. Trust me on this one.

3. No one (no, really, no one) makes a profit in their first few years. 

I knew this. I'd read this. People had told me this. But here's the thing:  I thought I was special and that I would be the exception to the rule. Turns out, I'm not special. I mean, I'm special, of course I'm special, but I'm not. Which leads us to:

4. You can't make money if you don't think you're worth it. 

But you are worth it. You just have to believe it and then be bold. I could never have imagined all the personal baggage I'd be dealing with when I started a business. Despite all my work and the tangible product I was selling, I couldn't ask for money that I didn't think I deserved. Or when I tried, people would push back and I'd cave. Because I didn't think I was worth it. Turns out I am. :) But it has been a journey.

5. Your time is your most valuable asset. Unless you don't have any money. 

This one is weird and I'm still figuring it out. Coming from the non-profit sector, it seemed like we always had more time than money. But there was always more work to do than time to do it. We just also didn't have any money. Now that I'm running a business that is making money, I find myself constantly wanting to pay people to do work for me so that I can free my time up to work on growing my business to bring even more money in. To finally pay myself. To bring on more people. To pay a living wage. To cover more bottoms and make more booties hot.

6. You do not have enough character. 

You will need much much more character to grow a business. And when I say, "You will need more character," what I'm really saying is that a lot of things are gonna suck and be uncomfortable. And you're gonna get through them. And be stronger for it. Even if you don't want to be. Even if you're pretty darn amazing just as you are. There's no way around it.

7. Great is good enough and perfectionism is paralyzing. 

I'm so glad I spent my entire life through my late 20s being perfect. I am finally checking it off the list, and it's pretty freeing to not have to be perfect anymore... I'm getting so much more done. :)

8. Practice and practice and practice and practice and not giving up and practice makes pretty flipping good. 

See also number 7. See also, "You will never work so hard in your life."

9. Your husband does not want to code your website. 

Even if he offers. Figure out how to make it happen another way. You will be happier. He will be happier. Your cat will be happier. Your houseplants will be happier. Your family will be happier and his family will like you more (this is an in-law joke. It's okay. My in-laws and I are cool). Your friends will also be happier. His friends will also be happier. The world will be a better place. Just don't let him code the website. He'll do a great job. It will be beautiful. But don't let him code the website.

10. Carefully weigh your yeses and nos. 

What opportunities (and opportunities stemming from opportunities) are you opening yourself up to by saying yes? What are you freeing yourself up to kick butt at by saying no?

And there you have it. 10 musings on my journey towards underwear empire-dom. What are your thoughts? Do any resonate, or do you have a completely different experience? Please comment below.

Thank you so much for being a part to my top 10. And for rocking the sweetest knickers in the land! 

P.S. Tomorrow we're announcing the winner of the big Year's Worth of Undies giveaway! Woot woot!

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April 17, 2014


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