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January 29, 2020

One Thing Nobody Told Me About Entrepreneurship #letstalk

Photo: Silvana Marshall Photography

When I made the decision to start my own business, I met with a coach, I took online courses, learned about taxes and subcontractors, cash flow and creating a plan. It was nervous, of course, but blindly excited, too.

The first few months were expectedly slow to start, with few meetings and a lot of solo work. And then the winter hit.

And it was cold and grey and lonely.

Start-ups are already challenging endeavours, but when you're doing it all by yourself, it's even more taxing on your mental health. I didn't know what I was doing most of the time, let alone if I was doing it "right."

When you think of CEOs or Presidents of companies, you may picture a high-powered person, sharply dressed, in a big bright office and with a team of people. In reality, I was in my sweats, sitting at the kitchen table surrounded by papers and sticky notes.

No one warned me about this. And to be honest, I wasn't prepared for it, either.

My first winter was the hardest. I stayed in a lot, but that isolation only made it worse. For someone who was so used to be social and with people, I was suddenly alone, there was no one for me to bounce ideas off of, and it changed me. My creativity and drive suffered, and ultimately, I wasn't happy.

That spring, I had gone for dinner with some friends (some business owners friends) and I mentioned the challenge of being alone in the winter. And you know what? Not only did they open their schedules (and their offices) for me, but they validated my feelings that, yes, it's damn hard.

Much like postpartum depression and baby blues, it's so common, yet few people discuss it (this is changing).

Ever since that day, I made an effort to go out more: I have regular lunches or check-ins with my friends and associates/clients, I joined a group of female entrepreneurs and they've become like my board of advisors and supporters,  and I've tried to book a vacation or getaway to look forward to.

All of this has helped tremendously and as a result, I'm more productive, more creative, more engaged and driven to make big leaps in my business.

One day, maybe I'll be that President & CEO with a team of people and a power suit. For now, I'm the President & CEO who does her absolute best at work she loves. I'm learning to value myself and my skills, my time and energy.

So, to all those self-employed, the start-ups, the new business owners, the freelancers -- if you ever want to grab a coffee or a chat, need some company or a brainstorm session, I'm here.

Sometimes, it's tough -- but it's time we told this entrepreneurship story, too.

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