2018: A Year in Reflection
I never thought 2018 would be so full and so lovely. And now, it seems crazy to think that this business of mine is a real, living, and breathing entity and I am honored to be able to show up every day to it.
When I first started this business I was unsure of which way to truly start. I felt like I knew my endgame, but was unsure of which path to move forward with. I know there may be some of you out there thinking the same thing. Perhaps you even toyed with the idea of starting your own business as well, but just unsure of exactly how to get started. In this blog post I reflect on my first year in business and then I breakdown the path I took to that brought me where I am today. I hope this provides insight and encouragement that it is possible to start a business alongside working a full-time job.
What does starting a business take?
Time. What I understood going into starting a business is that this new venture would drastically reduce any free time I had available outside of my day job. As most of you know, I have been at my current day job for a little over two years, and it takes up a good portion of my day during the week. I have to be very strict about my schedule, so I can ensure that I am keeping good boundaries with what is required of me in these various aspects of my life.
Mental Energy. What I did NOT understand when starting this venture is the amount of effort and mental energy it would take; and let me tell you, it is all-consuming at times! After a year of being at this, and having heard stories about entrepreneurs starting their own side businesses, I heard what it takes for them and they do stress the importance of having strong mental health. I never even considered the toll starting a business would have on my mental state. But, I can definitely see why having a very strong mental health would be beneficial. The strain and the weight of holding down your full-time job, and offering all of your intelligence and attention to that alongside having a side hustle with clients you want to make sure are happy with the work that you are producing….Well, that is one heavy burden. Being able to mentally segregate each of these clients (including my day job) is part of the mental struggle. This division of attention certainly takes a lot of discipline to be at the right mental state for each client. I am definitely not perfect at this, and there are times when I would rather hide under a rock than face any challenge during the day. So, there is certainly more work for me to be done in this area!
Determination and drive. The amount of determination and drive that starting a business requires, in order to move this venture forward, needs to be never-ending. That is how I know I am on the right path for me. I have both the determination and drive alongside courage to continue this journey forward. Being able to do all of the things is certainly not easy, and there are days where it is overwhelming and all-consuming, but knowing that there is a goal that I am working towards has kept me determined more than anything to reach it.
Cost. Of course, not to mention there is a cost to starting a business. This was an easy one to predict, so in 2017 I wrote down a few goals of mine (see picture below) in order to set myself up to be able to financially afford this new venture. As you can see, I wanted to pay down debt so I felt like I was more on financial solid ground. I definitely needed a new car (because I was throwing money away into my old car, major sad face) and a new computer. I knew I needed to wait until I was financially ready for all of these goals to fall into place. For the new car, I did my research for over a year before settling on what car to purchase, and that in itself could be a whole blog post with the amount of money I saved for the new car of mine!
What would I say are some of my greatest accomplishments this year?
My very greatest accomplishment this year is that I actually did it! I am considering that, in and of itself, the success! I am so happy to say that I have made it to the end of the year with this new venture of mine. I am so happy to say that I do have clients of my own. Having thought and dreamed about owning my own business for quite some time now, and actually seeing it come to fruition means more than the world to me. The reason I know this is meaningful and true for not just me, but also many others, is because of the amount of support and encouragement you all have shown me! This was a surprise factor for me, and another great accomplishment this year. For me, to be able to see the impact my business is has on my clients, as well as the many family members and friends who are more than supportive of me, is such a great accomplishment. I hope that my reach continues to expand in 2019 so that I may continue to be a resource for those on the pursuit of their personal finances.
What are some things I have learned about myself during this process?
Working as an accountant over the past decade, I have learned a lot about working on a team, and working with managers across organizations. Meeting one-on-one with managers, I soon realized that I very much enjoyed being in the space of guiding and directing someone on how they are spending their budget and the implications it has on the longer term. When I transitioned to starting my business and working one-on-one with individuals I quickly realized how much I enjoyed being in the space of helping the individual analyze their financial state and create a meaningful budget from there. This is why I developed Know Your Budget. My hope is that it will allow me to continue to help individuals, working alongside them, to create and use a meaningful budget.
Here is the progression of my journey over the course of the year
This path and journey has led me to some very practical experiences I will be able to continue to learn and grow from, in order to better myself moving forward. Here are a few guide posts along the journey of my first year in business.
In the first few months I was focused on building. I knew I wanted to have an online presence, so I had to build up my website. In fact, I knew this was going to be a goal of mine, so I actually started working towards this goal in late 2017 by securing my website and username handles on social media. Not only does creating an online presence allow others to know you are in business, but my goal was to give my community a sense of who I am and what I care about. I wanted this online presence to reflect who I am at the core.
Building my website lead me to start blogging right away. I felt that this was another way to allow my audience and readers to get to know me a little more than with a simple website. I also wanted to try my hand at monetizing this blog. I did immense amounts of research as far as what does it take to monetize a blog. It was then that I discovered affiliate marketing. And this online course called making sense of affiliate marketing. Which I highly recommend taking if you are interested even in the slightest of starting your own blog and making money off of your own blog because through this class you learn from point A to point B as far as what it needs to take to have a website to create a blog and to start earning affiliate income.
Next, I knew I needed to find some monthly bookkeeping clients to begin work. Early in 2018, I did all of the things that a freelancer would do in my shoes. I signed up for all of the freelancer websites and started reaching out to people through various websites. However, this path did not end up fruitful to me because I could not be the very first person to respond in a timely manner. Juggling my day job alongside this business has its very specific time challenges associated with it. But, that was not the end of my pursuit. In fact, the clients that I currently have right now have all come by way of recommendations from my good friends.
Next I got on the bandwagon of QuickBooks. While I have familiarity with many other accounting programs I knew I needed to learn more about QuickBooks since that is where most small businesses are using. I knew that as soon as I started with bookkeeping clients I would want to use a system that would be user-friendly for me and for my clients, and easily accessible online. QuickBooks is the ultimate user friendly Finance and Accounting system. It is super easy to learn and to use. Of course, each small business that I work with have their own distinguishing factors and that plays a role in how QuickBooks looks for them. But once you learn the ins-and-outs of QuickBooks, everything else is pretty straightforward. There are also some very good webinars that they offer they do offer online training programs and one resource that I have found super helpful is a YouTuber by the name of Hector who is a QuickBooks expert and walks you through step by step how to do specific tasks in QuickBooks.