What I Didn’t Know About Running a Business

Let’s be real. We’ve all been there.

A few short years ago, I decided that it was time to take a huge jump in my life. A terrifying, Mount Kilimanjaro type jump.

I was still working your typical 9–5 and then coming home to write until late at night. I fell in love with delivering high-quality content to clients from all over the world. However, I was working for pennies a word, trying to stay afloat.

I only had part-time to think about something I wanted to do full-time. I started my content creation business anyway, burning the midnight oil up until January 2018 when I couldn’t take it any longer.

I still remember that chilly day where I walked out the door of the office, got into my car and drove to my new office: home. I was thrilled, I was fulfilled and yet, I was naive.

You see, I had been running my business for a couple years, but was not fully immersed in it. I was writing articles about carpet while trying to vacuum my own. I was waking up each day to go to work, using up all of my phone memory on new ideas in the parking lot. I was split.

In January, when I finally began creating full-time, I was smacked in the face with the reality of everything I did not know that I thought I did.

Here goes nothing.

  • I forgot that I almost didn’t make it through Algebra in high school. What makes me think I can do my own business taxes?
  • Speaking of taxes, you have to pay your employer part and employee part. Guess what, I’m both.
  • I’m so good at following directions. However, I’m not good at giving them. Are you telling me I have to do both?
  • You can’t write high-quality content while binge-watching Golden Girls at the same time. It doesn’t work.
  • You will actually receive text messages asking you for a quick favor since you’re at home now and “have so much time off”. And you’ll feel bad for having to say no.
  • Decisions sometimes have to be made fast. There is no time for overthinking, which is kind of my middle name.
  • Anger will be felt, especially when you realize it’s 4 o’clock and you haven’t eaten yet.
  • Tears will be shed, especially when you reach a word count of 5,000 for the day. (It happens.)

Yes, it looks silly now as I look back. Why wasn’t I more prepared? Why didn’t I do all of the research? Why didn’t I read those books I bought about running a business? Well, because the things I DID know, outweighed it all:

  • I would have the freedom to keep my little boy home with me when he needed me.
  • I could take that nap at 3 in the afternoon after writing my heart out for a piece. Or, when another migraine took over.
  • I could put my name on the sign-up sheet for connect groups and volunteering at church.
  • I could say yes to that vacation with my family.
  • I could paint. I could read. I could have time to do what it is that fuels me.
  • I could experience the confidence that comes with doing something you didn’t know you could do.

And so much more. I have experienced each of these things, just in a few short months. I am learning the things I didn’t know. I am meeting incredible people I never thought I would meet. I am doing things that I never thought I could do. I am incredibly blessed.

Running a business has taken my “never” and turned it into now.

What Do Bologna and Business Have in Common?

As a full-time business owner and full-time mom, they have more in common than you think.

My son, a smart and spunky two-year-old loves bologna. And when I say loves, I mean he is passionate about it.

Just ask him what he ate for lunch today and he will say, “boney and cheese”. And no, that’s probably not what he had — he just wants it to be. This kid would eat bologna for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and also in between.

I’m convinced he goes to bed thinking about bologna and wakes up thinking about bologna.

I should mention that he doesn’t eat bologna as much as he would like. After all, the kid does need some nutrients. And you know what the moral of this story is? He does enjoy so many things other than bologna, no matter how much it clouds his thinking.

Bologna and business both start with “b”, but that’s only the beginning. The other day, after I asked my son what he wanted for breakfast, I had a revelation.

My business could be my bologna.

How many of us that own a small business, or large enterprise for that matter, wake up with business on the brain? How many of us answer emails or swipe through our social media accounts during our lunch break? And how many of us are guilty of sitting down at family dinner with business still in the back of our minds?

You can be honest with me because I’m going to be honest with you.

I am passionate about what I do. Sometimes, I can’t believe that this is what I get to do to provide for my family. But throughout this journey, I have realized that a passion for one thing can quickly consume the passion for another if we’re not careful.

I am passionate about my business, but I am also passionate about that little boy who loves bologna so much. He always comes first. But sometimes, it can be hard to not answer that email in the evenings when we’re playing, ya know? It can be hard to not think about those tasks you need to accomplish during bath time.

How do we make the shift? How do we focus? Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Stick to your guns. Pick a time in the day when you are done with business and be done. Don’t schedule phone calls after this time. Don’t answer emails after this time. It can wait.
  • Focus and be present. You don’t quite believe them when they say childhood goes by fast. It goes even faster than that. Time marches on at the same speed, with or without business.
  • It’s okay to say ‘no’. Yes, it truly is and I still struggle with it. It’s okay to say no to extra projects that you just can’t handle. It’s okay to say no to things that interfere with your family time.
  • Manage your time. If you work from home like I do, it can be hard to do business while staring at the dust in the corner. But, it is critical that you manage your tasks during the day so you can shut your computer off when it’s time.

Honestly, I’m not a big fan of bologna. But, at the end of the day, when I’m thinking about everything I am grateful for, I will remember the happiness on my son’s face more times than I will remember my computer screen. Always remember your priorities.

Business that comes first? That’s bologna.

Tips for Creating Emotional Marketing Content: Not So Uptight!

“Why does it have to sound so stiff and uptight?”

I asked myself this question the other night when writing an article. It was late, I was tired and the day had been absolutely nuts.

Actually, writing that the day “had been absolutely nuts” just gave me anxiety. And this is part of the problem.

You see, I was writing an article in a tone that I knew would work. That tone that says, “I know what I’m talking about. Na, na-na, na, boo boo.”

It is a tone that a lot of copywriters, such as myself, fall into. We get into a mode where we feel like everything we write needs to be pure genius and sound like pure genius…or else. Although knowledge goes a long way, no one truly wants to read content that puts them to sleep way before the call to action.

And no business wants content on their website or blog that does that either. Why? Well, since I cannot possibly answer for the rest of the consumers out there, I will tell you how uptight content makes me feel.

  • So, is that a fourth quote from Forbes or are you just happy to see me? I get it. High-quality quotes and knowledgeable cites are great. However, it takes away from what YOU have to offer.
  • A lot of people like to skim articles for the good and actionable stuff. If I have to get through paragraphs of uptight business jargon, I may just have to find action somewhere else.
  • I gravitate towards content that makes me feel something. Whether it be hope, excitement, love or even anger, I want to feel some emotion. Emotion creates relationships. If I cannot connect with your content, how will I connect with your brand?

All in all, I appreciate knowledgeable content. I appreciate content that is useful and is backed up by example. I appreciate content that is smart, before its time and earth-shattering. However, I don’t appreciate content that tries to do all this while making me feel dumb for even attempting to read it.

Here are a few tips to ensure your content stays helpful and on point, while remaining thoughtful and genuine:

  • Write for human beings. We are not robots who skim your article and count how many times you use a certain keyword. We are humans that want to earn something from reading your content. Maybe an emotional response, or maybe an actionable tip we can use.
  • Don’t oversell yourself. As a consumer, we know that at the end of the day, you need to make money. However, build a relationship with us first. You can’t see the gold without mining the cave first. Don’t use your content to just sell your product or service. Tell us WHY we need it. Convince us.
  • Don’t just rehash your sources. I love sources. All of us want some extra assurance that a fact is real. However, content that just uses source after source takes away from what idea you are trying to share. It takes away the personal aspect of content and gives us the article we probably passed up on Google in the first place. We want MORE.

Give us MORE. Give us emotion. Give us something to share. There is no reason to think you have to sound uptight and oh-so knowledgeable. If we are reading your words, we already believe in you enough to let magic happen. Don’t force it.