Cute photo right? It sums up how I've been feeling lately. If I'm being really honest, the only reason I'm throwing this up today is because I've received two-too-many angryish emails about the uptick in sponsored/affiliate content on the blog of late and I knew I was long overdue on a check-in. I try to maintain a 2:1 balance here between sponsored and not (we love our sponsors!) But I know that lately this hasn't been the case and I'm sorry if you've felt some authenticity has disappeared. My response? Entrepreneurship is hard and unless you're in it, you don't get it. 

Entrepreneurship is Hard: The Truth About Those Peaks and Valleys

The only explanation I have is that since December I've been drowning in a sink hole of what I can only describe as business depression, growing further and further behind. To keep up I had to get the sponsored content out (you know, because people pay me for that and when you take checks people expect things…) and the typical LBMT content got pushed to the back burner. This is my attempt at an explanation, as well as my own need to process a few things so here it goes:

This is What Entrepreneurship Looks Like

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 4.22.55 PM

 

Another entrepreneur friend shared this on Facebook awhile back and I found it super appropriate. Mainly because over the last year since I started working for myself, it's been lots of hills and valleys like the chart above.

But around the beginning of December, I noticed I wasn't feeling like myself. Over the next few months my attention span waned, productivity slowed to a near halt, and I had a hard time feeling and staying motivated. Shortly after Valentine's Day I saw the photo above and realized, “yeah, I'm in a very, very deep valley.”

And that's the thing about these entrepreneurial ebbs and flows, you never know how long they're going to last (previous ones were very short, this latest one lasted for months,) or where your next bout of inspiration/motivation is going to come from. But there is a tiny, tiny silver lining that comes with being totally down-in-the-mouth: those feelings force you to take a look at what you're doing.

Because feeling that way sucks, and if you're a go getter (which of course you are if you're an entrepreneur or side hustler) you want to do anything not to feel that way anymore.

 

Entrepreneurship is hard – more so when you shift your business.

I think I've clarified this before (here and here), but when I left my job in April my income was 70% from freelance copywriting and marketing strategy projects and 30% from this blog. I had big plans in the coming year to ramp up the writing side of my business, and I got there.

I had my first five figure month last November and things were going very well.

Until January came and I was “working” from my beautiful, shiny new office downtown. Except all I was doing was sitting there….with writer's block, and zero motivation. Taking on expenses like an office meant I had to spend more time doing the work that generated the most income, and less time for being creative. One day when I was on a deadline and panicking because I didn't have anything prepared, I calculated up how many words I'd have to write, how many extra hours I'd have to spend marketing my business to afford all of the new expenses.

It wasn't a huge number to be honest, but when you're having a hard time doing the bare minimum, any extra amount of effort feels insurmountable. 

It was then I realized that the business I'd set out to build when I left my job in April wasn't the one I was running. This discrepancy between what I was doing and what I wanted was likely where the big friction in my creativity was coming from.

I love my clients; there are still a handful whom I enjoy. But I left my job because I wanted more time to create what your eyeballs are reading right now. Honestly? That hasn't happened as much as I'd hoped in the 12 months since I left corporate life because I was too scared to leave the high paying writing work and bet on myself. 

So back in December I had two choices: I could either stay the course and continue slogging through client copy, taking on projects that didn't inspire me and grow a six-figure freelance writing business….which I was very, very close to doing.

Or I could buckle down and build the kind of business I'd always wanted, focused solely on this website and doing my own thing.

You can guess what I chose.

But It Hasn't Been Easy

Actually it's been really difficult and emotional, which is why I stayed in the valley far longer than I'd anticipated, even after I decided to switch up the focus of my efforts. Whatever energy I previously put into marketing myself as a writer, I put into the blog.

It's been a lot of trial and error on the back end of things: mostly new SEO, social media marketing, and ad strategies to increase revenue. It's exciting when things succeed because I'm pulling the strings, but it's also a b*tch when you work hard on something and only to fall flat on your face. Lots of pity, frustration, stress naps to recover.

I don't want to focus only on the difficulties because there have been definite wins in the last four months: I (finally) launched the workbook about blogging I'd been writing since 2014, (finally) sent my book proposal out and landed an agent, and implemented a major Pinterest strategy/content re-do, all the things that have been hanging out on my to-do list for far too long.

But in taking a step back, I've also been taking more time for me…which has also been scarce in the few months preceding my valley. More yoga classes and free form journaling. I'm doing another play, which is always my big creative reset button for the year, and I exited a relationship that, while loving, was a lot of on-again-off-again drama that (even though I didn't realize it at the time) took a huge toll on the amount of emotional energy I had to put into my business these last few months. I turned 29 on March 10th.

And that's about all there is to report. But I'll leave you with this….

Among other things this year, I'm working on trying to be more content. It's tough. It feels like as entrepreneurs and hustlers we're never satisfied; which is good and makes us successful because it keeps us hungry, but it can also keep us unhappy. I think I can now safely say I'm out of my valley, but I want to try and feel content with the place I'm at right now.

If it's anything like the chart above, I don't know how long it's going to last.

Want our free collection of financial resources?

Subscribe for access to the “Best Life Vault!”

 

Share This Post

  • So important to take a step back and also to celebrate the small victories. You mentioned before about being part of Facebook and mastermind groups. Have they been helpful in relieving even just a small amount of your rut?

    Have you noticed your productivity decreases more when you work from home or from your office? Cheers for going after projects+work that really excites you rather than chasing after something you think you want but really don’t. It’s something many struggle with.

    Wish you all the best!

    • Thanks Colin! I am more productive outside of my home and when I’m on a structured schedule…it’s just forcing me to adhere to that schedule sometimes that throws me.

  • I’ve been feeling the same way. I’m on an upswing now, but have been feeling stressed and emotional lately. Running a business is hard for sure! Congrats on having a 5-figure month though. Hoping to get there soon! 🙂

    • moving makes it hard too. Definitely hard to juggle both – glad you’re feeling more settled. 🙂

  • I admire you so much for taking the plunge, powering through and mostly for being vulnerable and open about your valleys.

  • Cat Alford/ Budget Blonde

    I’m so happy to read this honest post. I’ve been going through some of these same things lately and it’s so hard to bet on yourself instead of working on the immediate paying client work that pays the bills.

    • Absolutely! Your re-brand looks awesome, too.

  • “It feels like as entrepreneurs and hustlers we’re never satisfied; which is good and makes us successful because it keeps us hungry, but it can also keep us unhappy.”
    This is so true. I feel like this constantly and am glad it isn’t just me!

    • I struggle with feeling content. I’m not sure if I’d know what it felt like if it bit me on the butt.

  • Thanks for sharing. I haven’t had the complaint about too many sponsored posts because it seems that my offers just aren’t there. So just make sure you don’t end up with that problem! LOL.

    I think with any type of big change in your world like going to do this full time, there are going to be a lot of things that you just didn’t see coming, and a lot of those will see ups and downs. You’re seeing that and I think you’re recognizing it and making the necessary adjustments. It’s not something you’ll ‘solve’ overnight but it’ll be a constant process with different adjustments still required all the time.

    Pic made me laugh.

    • Thanks! It’s nice because I’m approaching on a year of working for myself full-time and now that I’m on the other side of it, I can better chart out what the next few months will look like based on “what happened last year.” Thanks for your sweet comment!

  • Aliyyah @RichAndHappyBlog

    Thank you for being so honest about your entrepreneurial journey. I think we are meant to be hungry, but there comes a point where you have to be content about the process as well.

    • Ah, contentment is so elusive..a daily process for me.

  • I feel ya. I have been working so much on trying to get my blog off the ground by making everything perfect, I forgot I need to actually write some content. Keep pushing through. We are all in this together. =)

    • I actually have a print with that quote on it in my house! It’s one of my favorites.

  • Recently I listened to an Amy Porterfield podcast where she talked about how she had to change her business model that she first started (when she begin working for herself) because she hated it. Sometimes you have to pivot when things aren’t working. And, I totally understand!

    • Yes, I think giving myself permission to pivot was the biggest thing holding me back. Now I get to go back and learn all new skills 🙂

  • Kayla Maxey

    The chart is SO true. We struggle with this all. the. time. When it’s great, it’s really great. But it’s so hard to get stuck in a rut when you have to deal with the not so great. Glad you are taking some time for you 😀

    • Glad to hear from you too! Let’s get lunch again soon.

  • I’ve been struggling a lot recently too. VERY unmotivated. Had a terrible March and I’m now in the hole for the year because I made so many investments in the good months thinking the good $ would continue :/ Chin up. We’ll come out the other end 🙂

    • Of course we will! Spring is here now 🙂

  • Dia

    Hey Lauren,
    I’m sorry you’ve been in an extended valley lately. But I appreciate your honesty here. I’m no where close to doing my side hustle full time but even i have those “What is the point,” or “I’ll never catch up”moments. You were one of the first blogger friends I made when I started my blog a year ago and I always try to see what you’re up to for inspiration. It’s comforting to know the peaks and valleys are normal. I felt so bad because for the first time probably since starting the blog, last week I only got one post out (I normally aim for 2) and totally didn’t send out my newlsetter but then i realized that it was okay. I needed to take a few days for myself and personal life! Those few days helped me feel recharged.

    • It’s never a bad idea to take time for you, no matter what has to suffer to make it happen. Let me know if you ever need anything.

  • TRUTH. I think we all experience this at one time or another, and it’s good to know that we’re not alone when we hit those valleys. You run a great site, and I look forward to continually reading powerful content like this!

  • Cindy Peterson

    Yep I hear you Lauren. I am finally making enough $ so I am breaking even. But I am still trying to figure out the online stuff so I can shift from in person sales to online sales & though I see I am making baby steps forward, it still feels like I am running in place. I think with online sales added in I would finally be in the black. I am lucky that I have another income stream coming in that pays the bills, otherwise I would’ve given up by now. It is disheartening to keep trying & not seeing things happen as soon as you would like. Keep going, though. And keep doing the personal stuff that keeps you healthy.

    • Thank you Cindy – it’s always tough to build something from the ground up. But hopefully in a few months you’ll be reaping the rewards of your hard work!

  • William Joseph Phillips

    Hey Lauren,
    I am trying to get my business off the ground and meeting a few obstacles in the road that is really frustrating me. I totally understand where you are coming from, as I am an artist and have those creative blocks as well. Thank you for sharing.

    • Being creative is a beautiful thing, but it’s also precious. We can’t do it all the time and not a lot of people understand how limited that bandwidth is. Thanks for taking the time to comment, William!

  • Sarah Marzalek-Kelly

    Rock on soul sister! Good for you for putting it all out there. A few years back, I started a kale chip company, I reached the point where I started to get angry when clients would place orders. I wasn’t sure what was going on? About 6 months ago, a coach, and a book came into my life and changed it. The book was “The Big Leap” by Gay Hendricks which I recommend for all entrepreneurs. It really slapped me awake. It made me realize why I was getting SO angry. I was not operating in my zone of genius. Hell, I didn’t even know what my zone of genius WAS before reading this book. As it turns out, my zone of genius is creating, the best kale chip i’ve ever tasted, music (I’m also a singer/songwriter) quick copy, design etc. I was angry because I was trying to force myself to thrive in an area outside of my zone of genius. I’ve since tweaked a few things, and am back to my happy creative self. Make some tea, and grab yourself a copy of that book. I listened to it on audible actually, because the author is the narrator, and it made me feel more connected to the work.

    • Thank you for the recommendation – I will definitely check it out!!!

  • I absolutely admire your honesty in this one, Lauren. Entrepreneurship is put on a such a high pedestal and some forget to talk about the realities of it all. I’m glad you’re focusing more on what you want your business to become. Hang in there, girly!

    • Thanks Lisa. Sometimes I feel like I can’t share IRL or with my friends who work 9-5. “Entrepreneurship is great! You’re living the dream.” and I am, but it’s also hard and no one gets it. Except my peeps on here. Thanks for reading!

  • Thank you Lauren for posting this post! I too have struggling to writing my content and lack of motivation and my plate is starting to be full soon due to my current job is starting to pick up in the construction field. It’s really nice to know that I’m not alone not having the motivation and the struggle. I learned a lot from your post which is to keep moving forward even when you’re struggling! 🙂

    • You’ve got a lot going on. Go easy on yourself and take some time for you.

  • Alexa Burrell

    Thank you SO much for sharing! That is some serious realness and as a newly self-employed entrepreneur, SO comforting to hear I’m not the only one!

    • Thank you for taking the time to comment Alexa and for all the shares on twitter. I’m glad we could connect. <3

  • CanadianBudgetBinder

    Thanks for sharing this Lauren. Being your own boss is not easy. Sometimes you have to look out for number one. You.

  • Giulia Lombardo

    great post thnaks for sharing, I know that who decide to be boss of him/herself is natural have high and down moments, but don’t worry is normal and we are human!!!

  • Tia @ financiallyfitandfab

    Thank you for being so candid and sharing you’d entrepreneurial journey !