WHAT. A. YEAR.
Last week marked the one-year anniversary of SecureBI. I reflected on this over the Memorial Day weekend and thought I’d share some of my experience starting a business in the midst of a global pandemic.
What a ride it has been – despite the fact that I haven’t been on a plane in 14 months (sorry Delta!). This is as much about informing other potential entrepreneurs as it is my own self-therapy.
PANDEMIC 2020: THE PERFECT TIME TO … START A BUSINESS???
When I started there were warning signs everywhere – from friends, family, colleagues, mentors, books, TED Talks, on and on. They all said that entrepreneurship is hard, very hard. They said a founder is not only the CEO, but also the COO, CSO, CMO, CFO, CIO, the IT department, the engineering team, the accounting department, the intern and the janitor. Everything takes three times as long and costs three times as much as you thought it would. Remember what the economic outlook was in May 2020? You won’t sleep for a year, either from too much work or too much stress (most likely both). Delegation is a pipe dream. The pay sucks and the benefits are even worse. And what is this extra payroll tax???
It’s all true, every single part.
And I love it.
The perks are great. I get to see my kids go to school and come home every day (or to be IT support as they logged in to their virtual classrooms). I haven’t missed a game or a meet in over a year. I tell them goodnight in person instead of through a screen and my daughter’s tears. I know many are experiencing this same thing due to the pandemic, but for me it means I’m not on the road full time and the prospects for keeping it that way are good. And it’s my choice.
I’ve made countless new friends and reconnected with some I haven’t seen or talked to in years. Relationships are so important in business, and that has never rung so true as when I started out on my own. My family and close friends have stepped up in such a big way and I am eternally grateful for their support.
The work I do every single day matters, and that is immensely motivating. I’ve learned to focus on the few things that matter the most, execute them relentlessly, and lean heavily on outside professionals and automation to take care of many things that would otherwise suck my time away.
I’ve learned SO much – web design, videography, accounting, instructional design, focus, grit, perseverance … I am more equipped now than I have ever been, and I learn something new everyday.
LIKE CLIMBING A MOUNTAIN ON ROLLERBLADES
Looking back it’s amazing how much we – along with my partners, clients and family – have accomplished together, yet I still have so far to go. It’s like a hill you’re trying to climb that keeps getting longer and higher, and as much progress you think you make you still can’t see the top. You wonder if you can ever get there, or if you will trip over a hidden obstacle and role back down the proverbial hill, dropping a few rungs on the corporate ladder along the way.
One of the most difficult parts has been turning down job offers; great jobs with great companies that would eliminate a lot of risk and bring comfort and financial stability. What about my future, what about my children’s future? College, weddings, retirement? This keeps me up every single night, stresses me out like nothing I’ve personally experienced as an adult. It’s probably not healthy.
But I love it. It’s both immensely overwhelming and immensely rewarding at the same time. I love doing work that matters and can make a real difference in this world. I love helping my clients solve real problems. I love setting my own schedule (I work more now than I ever have, but it doesn’t feel like it). I love learning every single detail that needs to be done to build and run a business. I love the challenge of getting to the top of the hill … but I know that if I ever get there I will just go find an even bigger hill to climb.
Everyone says the first 2-3 years are the most challenging and testing. I hope it doesn’t take that long to get up the hill but I’ve certainly found it to be true so far. I hope I can make it last long enough to see the other side. Meanwhile, I keep climbing. Because that’s what entrepreneurs do.