Question: Six Months In...So What Now?
This Henry Rollins quote means quite a lot to me.
I posted it a few weeks ago and started thinking about the journey I have been on with The Study Room.
We have been open for a while now; developmentally we should be slowly finding our feet and we are, but believe me, it has flown by.
I spoke about this at length in a guest post I had written for Twenty Something Meltdown.
Having spent one too many Sunday evenings in a cold sweat thinking about making a change, something that would make me want to jump out of bed with joy and not cling to the sheets in utter despair; while the alarm drills a hole through your head.
I know for so many, this is a bit of a pipe dream and to be honest it was a pipe dream for me to until I opened The Study Room.
I think that is why that quote resonates with me.
Because The Study Room really was born from insanity.
I came home, after long day of commuting and working.
(I do not miss the Victoria line during rush hour) ready for a large glass of wine; ready to count down the hours (via my Netflix queue) until it all started again.
I thought about how many evenings I had spent in the same routine and how many of them were in my future.
That thought scared me more than anything before. So, I halted the routine and changed my life.
I found the most empowering playlist I could find (it involved a lots of songs from the Knowles sisters), played it as loud as I could, popped my celebration champagne and started to plan. Three months later, The Study Room opened for business
As empowering and as fanciful as that sounds; it was just the start.
No one tells you that your business plan (and your business) will take over your life. People will try to tell you (or joke about it) but you cannot underestimate the all consuming power of running a business. I saw none of my friends and barely saw my family.
I spent three months writing, calculating and sitting alone comprehending what the hell I had just done with my life.
This was the hardest for me. I had left an office that was filled with noise. (I worked, quite successfully with the din of an actual bullhorn in my old office) So I came to understand that I do not work well in silence.
Leaving all of that noise to working with the slow hissing of my kettle (I was never without a brew or a coffee) was one of the biggest shocks to the system.
I went back to school. I took every business class I could find.
It gave me the opportunity to interact with others, something that I desperately needed. I met so many other creative freelancers and businesses who were just has starved of conversation as I was and it was brilliant!
Being in these classes gave me the opportunity to meet with others who were much further along in their journey.
This was invaluable because it helped me to reign in my wild imagination.
This is will and needs to happen.
And all of this happened well before The Study Room shop was launched.
Social Media has been my biggest change and challenge; I’ve had an iPhone for a while and have always been accused of having it surgically attached.
They were in fact my salad days. I have never spent so much time on social media in my life. When out, my phone will die in to time, I am constantly looking for new things, new people and new... well everything to share with you all.
I constantly correct texts to friends and family because I routinely hashtag my sentences.
It's nuts. But an essential aspect of running a small business.
We would not survive without it.
So What have I learned from this experience?
You Cannot Rely On Your Immediate Network
A supportive network of friends and family will always be there to cheer you on, but they have their limits.
Unless they have started their own business or have gone freelance; many will only see the insane step you have made.
They will support you, but your day to day tasks will be different; so you have to be mindful of that.
Your immediate network is also a great place to start articulating your ideas.
They are the first people you speak to when you go freelance or start a business and getting them to understand what it is you are doing will go a long way to help your customers understand what it is you are trying to do.
It helps you form your company and understand the wider world around it.
Understanding this, helps identify why you started this journey in the first place.
You Need Self Belief
Not everyone will understand your business.
You may meet with someone; who you think will identify with concept, only to be met with blank stares and derision. That's okay.
These stalls are great practice. It helps you to refine and condense your business pitch for the next person who does.
If you believe in your new venture; this will shine through.
At times; self belief can erode. Again, that's okay.
There was a reason you quit your job and started this; you just need to remember your reasons and hold onto that feeling. It will get better.
You Are Your Biggest Motivator
You... Yes, you are the only person who can drive your idea forward.
Productivity and structuring your day is lead by you and only you.
Working for yourself means you never really switch off, but having the resemblance of a structured 9-5 will help you make most of your day.
Working for yourself or freelancing rarely means getting up when you like and working in you pyjamas.
If you do, you never believed in your idea in the first place.
Get up. Get Dressed and Get To Work.
That's the only way you can push forward.
When you aren't working bring a notebook with you; ideas can come to you in the most random places. Don't let those slip away, they could be worth something to you and your idea.
Like Aristotle Onassis said "It's the million dollar lesson they don't teach you in business school"
So What's Next?
That's a very good Question!
We at The Study Room want to make you, your biggest motivator productive, so we have been working (and tweeting, blogging, instagramming) hard to find the best tips, tricks and hacks to make it that little bit easier. We even have a pretty stellar range of stationery supplies to help make your office beautiful too.
Today also marks the official launch The Study Room Collective; our dedicated space for creative freelancers and small businesses.
We want to make your next six months more inclusive and inspirational.
You aren't alone and we want to help!
I will also be spending the next six months getting to grips with my social media, I would really like an iPhone-ectomy at this point (will it ever be less time-consuming?!), continuing to meet with people who want to know more about The Study Room and using my insanity to do more great things.
I'm off to listen to some Black Flag to celebrate!