5 Things Nobody Tells You About Being a Small Business Owner

5 Things Nobody Tells You About Being a Small Business Owner | Emily Moore | Private Photo Editor
I'm Emily!

I'm a NC girl born & raised, a wife to my college sweetheart, mom to my sweet daughter Caroline & fur-mom to my floof, Riley. I love summer days at the beach, fall weekends in the mountains, & everyday in between exploring new corners of the world. I live for Italian food, tacos & margaritas. Currently taking life one adventure at a time.

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The Dream of Being a Small Business Owner

When I quit my corporate job, I dreamed about what my life would look like as a small business owner. I relished in the thought that I wouldn’t have to drag myself out of bed at 6:30 in the morning and sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic for an hour. I imagined that I would have this big bright beautiful office full of pretty things that I’d get to photograph everyday. I dreamed that I’d get to travel the world because no matter where I went, I would be able to work from my laptop. I knew it would take some time, but life was going to be amazing!

5 Things Nobody Tells You as a Small Business Owner | Emily Moore

Even though I love where I am with my business now, the first year of running my business was extremely difficult and overwhelming. My 9-5 job quickly became a 7-6 job (Wait, what? You worked more hours than before?!), I wasn’t able to sleep because I would lay awake for hours thinking about everything I had to get done the next day, I found it difficult to get out of bed in the morning, I had no money for a beautiful office or to travel the world…the list goes on and on. Being a small business owner is hard work. I think it’s easy as an outsider looking in to think that it’s a perfect life to be your own boss because small business owners give the perception that everything is perfect all of the time, which just isn’t true! So today, I want to share with you a few things I’ve learned over the last few years that I wish I would have known before diving into this career.

1. You will talk to your dogs, or cats, or yourself…a lot

Seriously, you’ll feel like you’re taking crazy pills! You’ll find yourself talking to anyone to feel like you’re not spending countless hours each day shut in an office completely alone. Being a small business owner can be incredibly isolating and lonely, so if you’re going to dive into this business, make sure you have a really great support system around you. Make sure you also have people you can call or talk to throughout the day if you need some encouragement and support (This means no emails, texts, or messaging them online! Call them – talk to them!).

  1. It’s not a very glamorous lifestyle

Oh sure, when you look at a small business owner’s social media pages or website, it gives off the impression that our lives are absolutely perfect – that everything is constantly organized and runs according to schedule. The truth is that a lot of the time, you’re sitting at home ripping your hair out because you are overwhelmed with the amount of work you have and your desk (and house!) are in constant disarray. You’ll also probably spend most of your day in front of the computer with no makeup on, dressed in sweatpants and a t-shirt. I think I speak for every business owner when I tell you that there will be days when you emerge from your office showing a slight resemblance to the Gollum creature from Lord of the Rings. If you head into your business thinking it’s going to be glamour and glitz 24-7, think again!

  1. Vacations can be really stressful, especially when you’re first starting out

Depending on your job, vacations can be overwhelming because the entire time you’re gone, you end up dreading the amount of work waiting for you when you get home. The other big downside to taking vacations as a small business owner is that you don’t get paid leave (which also includes any sick days, too). Yep, that’s right: everyday you don’t work is a day you’re not making any money. Eventually, you could set your business up in a way that allows you to get paychecks every week, though for many small businesses, this isn’t an option. It can be really stressful and at some point, you feel like you don’t even want to take any vacations because you can’t even relax when you’re away.

  1. There will be days where you’re going to want to quit

There will be times when you’ll find yourself sitting in front of your computer, bawling your eyes out, wondering what you’re doing. You’ll question if all of the sacrifices are worth it to be business owner and you’ll start to weigh all of the pros and cons of going back to a corporate job (or ANY job for that matter). There are going to be days where you absolutely hate your job, but just try to remember that you’re pursuing a career you love, and that it’s okay if your heart isn’t in it every single minute of every single day. As long as you find it enjoyable most of the time don’t give into your doubt!

  1. It’s not meant for everyone

If you have been blessed with an incredible talent, I think you have a responsibility to share it with the world! However, running a small business is definitely not for everyone. There’s a huge responsibility to stay disciplined enough to turn down fun lunch dates in order to make sure you get your work done. It takes a lot out of you to work 9, sometimes 12 hours a day to make sure you meet deadlines and keep your business running. It can get really overwhelming figuring out how to keep track of expenses, pay all of your own taxes (when you’re the employer, a good chunk of that burden falls on you), and find balance between your business and personal life. It’s okay if you only do your business part time on the side while working another job, or if you just pursue it as a hobby. If you’re passionate about something, you should pursue it! Just evaluate if you think taking it full time as a business is right for you.


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  1. IDOWED says:

    You also have to take everything personally because you shoulder the burden of your entire company.
    You also cannot take anything personally because you cannot function if you do.

    Applause for every small business owner because you are accomplishing the impossible.

  2. Lauren says:

    No one tell you these things!!

  3. Everyone thinks that working for yourself is wonderful and easy, but it definitely has its challenges! I’ve definitely had that moment when I realize that I haven’t gotten out of my pajamas in three days or left the house all week.

  4. Larissa says:

    It’s so true- being a small business owner isn’t glamorous but it sure can bring a lot of fulfillment! You got this Gollum, I mean girl! 😉

  5. Yes, running your own business is a LOT more work than most people anticipate jumping in. The wonderful thing is that the longer you’re in business, the income increases (at least it should) and the rewards that come with it far surpass any you can find at 9-5 job. Healthy boudaries for personal work/life balance and taking time for vacation (unplugged) can be hard to set in place, but are 100% worth it. It’s definitely a learning curve, and you’re obviously crushing it! Enjoy the beautiful journey!

  6. Yes! Thank you for this. I really resonated with the idea of how challenging it is to stay disciplined in maintaining your own schedule. Passion is so scary because it encourages risks. So much sacrifice comes from being a small business owner, but passion is (hopefully) something that just doesn’t go away.

  7. Ashley says:

    This! Just…all of this! I think so many of us start out super naive and it’s a huge wake up call! But at the end of the day – I can’t imagine doing anything else! (Though a vacation without guilt would be really nice…and I’m sure all of our partners would enjoy seeing us in something other than sweatpants one day. 🙂 )

  8. Yasiris Torres says:

    This inspires me not to give up. This is my first year operating my business and I know this year I will not be making any money. It may take another year before I start seeing revenue as a wedding photographer, so I can’t quit my real job just yet, but I know I will be able to do it eventually.

  9. EJ says:

    A man to this post sister! I am feeling you on all those points. It is so much harder and less glamorous than it looks from the outside. Very well written a blog.

  10. Coryn says:

    Worst part, I thinkis … if you don’t do it their is no one to pick up the slack. Ugh responsibility!

  11. Leah says:

    #1 is so true! It is so hard not having coworkers to talk to that understand what you are dealing with!

  12. Alyssa says:

    oh YES. I nodded my head to everyone of these. it’s so hard but so worth it.

  13. Sarah says:

    it sure isnt easy but you seem to be rocking it!

  14. Melissa Johnson says:

    This. Is. So. True!! I felt like I was looking into a mirror while I was reading this! I’ve been there!! Thank you for sharing this, it;s so good to know I’m not the only one who feels like this sometimes!

  15. Savannah says:

    All the times my dogs stared at me, wondering why I was blabbing on!! 😉 I completely agree with all of your points, owning a creative business can be isolating at times and it’s so great to connect and hear from others in the business!

  16. Mercedes says:

    I had good fortune to be told all these things while going to art school. It wasn’t surprise, but it still felt like it when all of the above actually did happen! Another thing not mentioned is how much of small business ownership is the business part. What you enjoy doing is probably 10% of it. The rest is accounting, marketing, networking, etc.

  17. Hannah says:

    So true! I can relate to a lot of your post! Having a small business is a lot of work.

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