What No One Tells You About Running an Online Business
Let’s be honest for a hot second and admit that running an online business is completely over glamorized online these days.
I know you’ve seen the instagram posts of people showing their dreamy work from home life: traveling on their private planes, eating dinner on the beach in some tropical location, buying luxury goods and their stream of payments coming through their email inbox.
Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this. But it does hide a lot of the not so great parts about becoming an entrepreneur for those just getting started.
That’s why I decided to shed some light on the things that no one warns you of when you decide to start a virtual assistant business.
#1 You’ll work harder than you ever did in your day job.
Yeah, you can say sayonara to your 40 hour work week and say hello to a 60 hour one instead.
When you’re in the starting stages of your business, you’ll likely work harder than you ever did in your day job. That means you’re going to work longer and carry more responsibility, too.
This is something that thankfully tapers off after the first year or two depending on what industry/niche you’re in, because this tends to be the period where you’re hustling the most.
But if you’re quitting your job to dive directly into a 4-hour workweek, I’m sorry to say that that’s just not the reality.
#2 It gets lonely.
I am always the first to say that building a business that allows me to work from home is one of the greatest things I’ve ever done for myself.
What I didn’t realize before going full-time though, is that it gets extremely lonely after awhile.
I was super lucky to be leaving a team at my day job that was wonderful and supportive on every front. So I always had someone there to ask for feedback or get a second opinion when I needed it with something I was working on. Not to mention that I lost my lunch break social time and all forms of daily human contact other than my husband.
I figured out really quickly that it can feel isolating working my yourself all day. So it’s essential to recognize that and create a community (in person or virtual!) who you can connect with and rely on when you need it.
#3 No one will understand what you do for a living.
If you’ve ever told your mom or your best friend what kind of business you’re planning to start, chances are had no idea what you’re talking about.
This is something you’ve gotta get used too. I’ve been a full-time virtual assistant since 2017 and some of my closest friends and family still only kind of understand what it is that I do.
So just embrace the fact that no matter how much you over-explain it, they’ll probably still leave the conversation entirely confused with their hands in the air. But that’s also totally okay!
#4 The path to success is probably longer than you think.
This one gets me hot because it really feeds into the whole “look at my instagrammable work from home life”.
You often see people say that they started making 5K, 10K or even 20K in the first 30 days of their business or something else that’s absolutely incredible. Now, is this possible? Absolutely. But is it the norm? Definitely not.
So don’t be discouraged if you experience true slow and steady growth. Plan to take it slow and be intentional with the moves you make in your business. I highly encourage you to record your marketing and financial performance metrics in a simple spreadsheet.
Every month or quarter, look at how you’ve grown. It’s easy to get caught up in the big success stories we’re blasted with and fail to realize how much progress we’ve actually made after working day in and day out.
#5 You’ll often forget what the outside feels like.
This goes hand in hand with the fact that you’ll get lonely, because you’ll rarely have a reason to go outside.
Once you start working from home every day, it’s easy to…
- Forget when the last time you showered was
- Stop shaving… entirely.
- Wear second (or third) day leggings or sweatpants
- Use an entire can of dry shampoo on a weekly basis (if that’s your thing)
- Realize you haven’t left the house for 7 days without noticing
Sounding familiar at all?! 😉
I encourage you to make a conscious effort to take a shower when you want to feel refreshed, go out to pick up lunch or take a walk with the dog (or kiddos!) in the afternoon. Because it’s not hard to stay inside for days on end and neither is loosing your mental sanity over it.
#6 Your Workday is Never Really “Over”.
It’s really satisfying to look at the clock, realize that it’s finally 5PM so you can close your computer to get back to your time, isn’t it?
Unfortunately, those days are over when you start working for yourself.
Don’t be surprised when you find yourself talking to your partner about your job every Saturday evening over wine because you have a new idea you’re super excited about. You’ll also find yourself running back to your computer at 7:30PM to do “one more quick thing” before you actually call it quits for the day.
As soon as you finish one client project, there will be another. Once you finish sprucing up your website, there will be something else to change. If you added another service offering for clients, you’ll have 3 more waiting to be developed.
You have to consciously take the time to rest and recognize that there will always be work to do and somewhere else you can improve as an entrepreneur. So accept that and prioritize rest, otherwise you’ll never stop!
#7 Building a support system is essential.
I think most entrepreneurs would agree that building a business is one of the hardest things they’ve ever done.
When you’re doing one of the hardest things you’ve ever done, it’s not uncommon to have a lot of crying sessions and “OMG I can’t f**king do this anymore, I give up” moments. That’s why you have to have a support system for yourself.
When you start working for yourself, you don’t have one built in automatically like you do at a typical day job. If you have an upset client, you usually have a boss to go to who can take over and deal with it. If you have a payroll issue, you visit HR. If you have a conflict with a team member, you can talk to your manager and come to a compromise.
But now that’s alllllll on you baby cakes. There’s no handing off the issues anymore.
So make sure you have a person to fall back on for support when you need it. Even if it’s just for emotional support, because running an online business is a lot to carry. For me personally, this is mainly my husband.
Bless his heart, he’s pulled me off the kitchen floor and told me “You got this” too many times to count. (I love him for it!) It doesn’t matter who it is. It could be a loved one, a business mentor, coach, or online community. Just find your support system and use it when you need it.
#8 Tax Law Will Have No Idea What to Do With You.
Most governments are really behind the times when it comes to running an online business and developing policies around them.
So don’t be surprised when you find that tax time becomes somewhat of a hot mess for you. Especially if you live abroad or work with clients from other countries, it’s going to be a little crazy when it comes time to file and pay your estimated taxes.
It’s all completely manageable and doable, so don’t let it scare you! But holy moly, it can be an interesting ride!
#9 You’ll want to quit, regularly.
You’ll absolutely want to quit and close your business on a regular basis. Because of well, all the reason I listed here.
It’s easy to want to throw your hands up and call it a day and run back to the safety and security that a 9-5 brings…
#10 … but it’s all totally worth it. Trust me.
Waking up every day and working on something that’s truly rewarding and lights you up inside will bring you more joy than any other job you’ve ever had. It makes all the challenges of working for yourself seem like nothing at all.
Not to mention that fact that for the first time ever, you’re working on something that’s truly yours. That you built. That you reap the rewards for your hard work – both emotionally and financially.
It’s what makes entrepreneurship and it’s challenges worth it by 100x over. Safe to say it’s a 10/10 recommend for me. 😉