Let me ask you something… when you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed, does it feel like practically everyone is a #bossbabe, enjoying a nearly perfect existence decked out in their (Insta-worthy) pajamas with their adorable pups at their feet?
Where are all the photos of people grinding it out at their desk jobs between the hours of 9 and 5? Where are the hardworkin’ ladies with their hair in a messy bun (and not cute messy… just messy) furiously trying to finish that “one last thing” while everyone else in their family is asleep? What I mean to say is, where are all the women like me?
And I get it. I'm guilty of sugar-coating things too. That's why I try to be real in my captions, and give a glimpse of what life actually looks like in my Instagram Story.
The comparison rabbit hole
As a podcast fanatic, I’ve heard lots of stories about entrepreneurs who were able to walk out of their cubicles and start setting their own schedules. I’ve listened as they’ve dished about the perks of being their own boss or hiring a team. Not gonna lie, they are inspiring stories! On good days, they get me fueled up to put one more hour into my business when I feel like I have nothing left to give. But on bad days, they make me want to pack it all in and call it a day.
“DON'T COMPARE YOUR BEGINNING TO SOMEONE ELSE'S MIDDLE, OR YOUR MIDDLE TO SOMEONE ELSE'S END.” - A VERY, VERY SMART PERSON
I’m sure you’ve heard this quote a million times; I know I have. Like me you may get caught up in the outcome, the payoff from all the hard work these business owners have put in over the years. It’s likely that your story will have a similar ending. However, you’re not there yet. I’m not there yet. We need to remember that growing slowly is okay. It’s normal, and frankly, it’s smart as hell, even if it’s not very exciting.
The Success Story Conundrum
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that success stories are the enemy. I believe that the more we hear about others finding success in their niche, the more we are able to envision the same kind of success for ourselves. It gives us the bravery we need to go on when reaching our next goal feels unachievable.
The trouble arises when people try to sell us a one-size-fits-all path to success, which usually looks a lot like their own path. Most of the marketing and “how to” courses out there are built around the idea that you can have success if you replicate the exact methods someone else used, without considering all the factors that make you and your business unique. Will any of these strategies work if you don’t plan on walking away from your full-time job tomorrow? Sadly, they might not.
The Case for Growing Slowly
Growing your business slowly and steadily isn’t very romantic. It doesn’t make for a whirlwind story that people are going to tell their friends about after they hear it on the latest podcast episode. It’s practical, and well, kinda boring. But sometimes, that’s what being an adult is all about. It’s about tedious things like needing a steady paycheck, good benefits you don’t have to go bankrupt to afford, and a retirement account. Let's face it - responsibility can be a real snoozefest.
There is no sure thing in business, but something that’s a pretty safe bet? If you get yourself into uncomfortable financial territory to keep up with the #girlboss gang, you’re going to have a pretty steep uphill battle on your hands. It’s hard enough to create a successful business, not to mention having to recoup all of those expenses right out of the gate.
Slow growth means taking the profit you make and reinvesting it back into your business. It means having 3 to 6 month’s worth of income in your “quitting fund” before walking away from your full time job. (Or going part-time instead of walking out completely.) It means doing a ton of research about the benefits you’re going to be responsible for when you no longer have an employer providing them. It means thinking about how you’re going to save for retirement and pay your own taxes.
We need to embrace the influencers that are willing to share this kind of messaging, and who are dedicated to giving out real tips that aspiring entrepreneurs can use to mindfully grow their business. One of my favorite resources for information like this is Tradeshow Bootcamp. This isn’t a sponsored post, I just love the shit out of them and their dedication to slow and steady growth for long-term success. They specialize in the stationery and gift industries, so if this is of any interest to you, I encourage you to check them out.
Do you have any favorite podcasts or influencers that make you feel powerful rather than left behind? Share them in the comments below! Here’s to (slowly) knocking those business goals out of the park!
Photos (the pretty ones, that is) by Shaunae Teske.