You remember the rush of your first sale? Seeing that order drop and jumping out of your chair and running around like a loony! Or maybe it was seeing the first runs of your new business logo? How very grown up! Sh*t just got real!
But then again, you probably always knew that this was what you were born to do. If you didn't your family and friends certainly knew. Because the talent was always there. Your gift. Your eye. Whether it was your self-styled sassy wardrobe by age three, the way you were drawn to rub Nan's deep red crushed velvet curtain against your kiddie cheeks, or how you got lost for hours locked in your bedroom writing the next teen horror novel. Perhaps it was your angelic voice that filled the family car on road trips, or the how the teacher struggled to keep you in your chair because all your body ever wanted to do was move. While other kids brushed their doll's hair, you were giving her the crimp, cut and colour. Out with friends wandering the streets, you got lost in the grandeur of the streetscape architecture while they kicked balls. You always had an eye for style or a strategy to share. A problem to solve. An idea for the world. Really this was always where you would end up.
So you decided to make a go of it! Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, you set up about making your dream a reality. Oh the rush! Figuring out a name, day-dreaming about the colours, telling family and friends, sorting your social media, imagining the orders flowing in and just generally soaking in the big bloody realisation that you are a business owner.
For the first few months it was a thrill. Scary? Yes. Nerve-wracking? For sure. But man the excitement out-weighed it all. The sales were coming in and you worked hard fuelled by the endless energy of a new business. Some days you were so caught up in it that you forgot to have a break for lunch. Sure, you hadn't got to the gym the last few weeks, but you'll get back to that. You could feel the lines between work and home life blur a little, perhaps you weren't 100% in the moment .... "Mum I've asked three times if you know where my soccer boots are?!" but it's only temporary after all.
Fast forward a few more months and you're not feeling quite as 'rule the world' -ish. You log on to your internet banking. Your heart sinks a little. There's never much in there. You're working so hard, probably harder than ever before and there are sales coming in but where's the money? And the bills are starting to pile up a little. Piles. Yes there seems to be lots of piles - receipts, bills, orders ... they're starting to make you feel overwhelmed. You can't quite shake that conversation at the networking lunch yesterday where someone asked what your turn-over was and you died a little on the inside because you had no idea what that even means... let alone what yours actually is.
You catch yourself day-dreaming about when you had a wage. You do an internal gasp of horror! You can't believe you are even thinking like that - you hated it! But in a way, that old job that you just had to turn up to, could switch off from and have money magically appear in your bank account each fortnight, suddenly feels more appealing. You cut the thought off - THIS IS the dream, you remind yourself.
For the first time in your life, you are not sleeping well. It's like the second you hop in to bed, your mind, that was oh so tired half an hour beforehand, suddenly comes alive! Are you compliant? What if you are breaking the law without realising it? Why do some people talk about GST? What is it? Do you really know what you're doing? Surely any day now, someone is going to realise you are a big, fat, phoney fraud who has no idea about your business finances. Besides, you can't ask those 'dumb' questions now - you've been in business for 18 months, you should know this. You're in waaaay too deep now to let anyone know what's really going on.
Your big secret begins to weigh you down. When someone comments on how cool your instagram account is, you squirm a little. If only they knew, you hear the voice say. You don't have the energy you used to. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to suspend they gym membership afterall? You glance at the designs on the table. Your creativity feels like one of the many scrunched up, crackly balls of paper sitting on your desk. You hear the ping of another email, and feel your tummy flip a little. What's wrong now? Your phone rings and it's your accountant. You feel sick - this must be it, the moment you realise you've been doing it all wrong and now you're in trouble?
Sound familiar dear one? I hope not. But I know for some it is the uncomfortable landscape they suddenly find themselves in. And it's not the juice for your best creative output to the world. It's not a platform for you to stand on and shine, sister. It's a soul-destroying, anxiety-feeding, confidence-shredding sure fire path to burn out.
How do I know this ? Because I have been there too. I know how it feels to push down the voice of panic that whispers in your ear at 2am. I've felt the excitement of a new business slowly transmute into an unbearable stress. I've worked long hours at the expense of my family and my health and my general joie de vivre only to realise I was not making money. I've felt warm tears trickle down my cheeks as I sat at my desk wondering how the hell I got here.
I get it.
I hit rock- bottom a few years ago. After battling on with my business, juggling a family, and even through a cancer diagnosis, it eventually all came to a halt and I got really sick. I had to stop and start again and this time I took the lessons learnt. This time I had support and systems in place for my business and for me, and built an award- winning business while transforming my health.
This has lead me to develop 'Business Basics for Creative Minds.' To step you through what you need to know to run a successful small business. To answer those questions you're too scared to ask. To set clear objectives about what you're doing that INCLUDES looking after yourself. To find systems, apps and programmes that give you back time. To make sure you know what you need to do to earn money. To help you sleep better at night knowing you are compliant. To make sure no- one has to go through what I did.
Ultimately, it's about setting you up so that you're excited about what you're doing again. Freeing yourself up from the worries and concerns of your business finances, so you can go forth and do what you were put on this earth to do!
Gabrielle Osborne (BAcc) is a small business specialist who loves empowering creative minds by helping them make sense of their business numbers.