Hello to Fellow Small Business Owners, Bloggers, and Entrepreneurs,

It has officially been the first day of diving all in with Crane Digital Solutions here on Hillary’s end. And what a paradigm shift it is from having a very structured 8-to-5 workday and squeezing in the “extra” Crane Digital work where I can, to instead just focusing on this!

I didn’t expect the shift to feel so… well, shocking to my system, especially because I aimed to make today very focused and structured like a normal job, which I felt I successfully accomplished that part.

I felt inspired to write a post about the first self-employed day because I don’t think I’ve read anybody’s opinion on it before.  In this post, I will share my initial impressions on the first full day of working for myself, because I’m curious if you felt the same way? Without further introduction, hear are my main takeaways:

1. Learning to Ask for Help

We all start our own businesses for one reason or another, but I would argue one very compelling reason to start involves the autonomy and independence, right? Feeling empowered, right? That reason alone gave me a lot of motivation to start my own business. The irony in it all is, I think I’ve felt more dependent than I ever have before when it comes to work today!

Today’s main focus involved identifying customer needs and diving into the pain-points bloggers and small businesses face in marketing at this time. I wanted to really define where Crane Digital could help. That required building out and asking bloggers to complete a survey, calling a few I know and requesting for insight and to work for them, as well as following-up on other potential work that presented itself earlier.

If I can avoid putting myself out there and figuring out how to get by by myself, then I’m more than happy to just go that way. Having to ask for the things that I and my business needed really pushed me out of my comfort zone.

2. Trusting and Expressing Faith That This Will All Work Out

Upon sitting down to start working this morning, I had this realization, “The only way I will make an income on my self-employed work days is if I find paid work to fulfill.” I calculated the opportunity cost of the money I would’ve made today if I went into my regular, not self-employed job, and felt the sting.

I’ve listened to many podcasts about having a good security blanket as you dive into your own business, and I felt like my situation was well prepared for it. I took a lot of time thinking it through and weighing the implications of working for myself before I decided to take the big leap, knowing that it might not reap self-sustainability for a little while.

But today, it just got real. So the scare really came down to the question we probably all ask at some point, “Will the work I’m doing today reap any success eventually?” And the answer I had to keep telling myself was, “Yes, it will work out the way it needs to.”

Which, speaking of worrying about money, that ties into my next point…

3. Focusing on the Customer and Not the Money (Yes, Really)

The heart and goodness of all business lies in the principle that businesses solve problems, right? If you’ve been in a business class or studied marketing at any point, there’s this saying “the customer is always right.” Taking it down another level, there’s also this idea that if your business focuses on the customer first, then the money will follow.

I had a moment today where I had the opportunity to make a potential client stress more by pushing my agenda to get working for them today, and I almost did that because of reason #2 in this blog post – reassurance that this would pay off one day. But after hearing about what was on their plate and how they were overwhelmed, I’m grateful for the decision to step back and wait for when they were ready to chat, even though that decision felt like it might “ruin” my plans for this work day. Other opportunities arose as I focused my attention elsewhere. I always thought of customer focus as a grand-scale abstract level before today, but now I’ve seen it in action.

4. Letting Go of Perfection and Embracing the “Growth” Mindset

I’m a textbook perfectionist. My personality gravitates towards understanding what I’m working on very well before I’m comfortable releasing it to the world. So sending out estimates, surveys, this post, and email pitches, knowing they weren’t expertly crafted was another uncomfortable step for me. Starting your own business often means wearing a lot of different hats in the business, so the moments when I need to put a hat on in an area I don’t know all about feels very vulnerable.

Today I had to send things out to the world with the trust that they will get better  as I go, that I can accept input and critique to make them better in the future, and things will be fine if they’re just mediocre now. Growth mindset in action.

In summary, embracing discomfort was really the true theme of being a business owner today. I kept thinking of what author Brené Brown, who focuses her research and work on vulnerability, said in her literary works:

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”

So I’m curious from those who read the full blog post to this point – what did you feel and learn on your first day working for yourself?