Being your own boss is hard, yo

I quit the job that earned me a little extra income here and there. January and February were the slow months anyway, so I wasn’t counting on anything coming in, and planned on using this time to figure out how to make MY small business grow. And damn if I can’t determine how best to go about it. And that’s when I remember WHY I stayed working there as long as I did, putting up with the constant criticism and hits to my emotional well-being and anxiety triggers — because being your own boss is really fucking hard.

I’ve had this little Etsy shop making custom dog collars for a few years now, making a few sales per month. Nothing major, nothing to put me in the big leagues or even make Etsy send me a 1099 for tax purposes (talk about little, right?). Just enough to set aside for the “Oh shit!” fund or spend a little extra in the grocery store. When you live on Social Security Disability payments of less than $1300/mo — that little bit of extra is VERY handy. But it was piecemeal, here and there… and sometimes I’d go for a month or two without a sale.

I once went viral on Facebook. As a pit bull rescuer and advocate, I’d pulled the Pittsburgh Steelers out of my shop when they hired Michael Vick as a small protest (really small — at the time, I think I had maybe 300 followers on my page). I made a post about it and it was shared, and shared, and SHARED and then the comments started pouring in: positive and trolls. That post was seen over 250k times the first year (2015) and then resurfaced a few times on the anniversary. It grew my social media presence and gave me some pretty loyal fans and customers but I remain small and relatively unknown. After Facebook made it’s changes regarding pages and businesses, traffic dropped to nearly nothing. I try to use Instagram but my views are nearly nil — not like my personal account where I post my dog shenanigans — THOSE are liked. I need to somehow link my personal stuff with my business and take better photos of them wearing their collars — but until then, I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Also making things difficult is deciding on the best e-commerce approach. Do I invest in using an all-around platform like Shopify to build my website, or build one using WordPress (that I know) and add a shopping plugin and buy space and domain name? I need to make so many different decisions on exactly HOW to grow…and then make the actual jump. Oh…yeah, and remember, it’s just me and a sewing machine. If my body gives out and I haha get too big for my britches and can’t keep up with orders, then what? I need to hire someone and train them to create my collars.

THAT’S why I stayed small and kept working for someone else. All these decisions are a giant anxiety attack in the making.

Breathe breathe breathe. You can do it. You’ll figure it out.