Some thoughts on what owning your own business is really like and what it’s not like at all.
At the beginning of 2015 a friend mentioned home inspection as a possible new career. I quickly blew it off, knowing that wasn’t what i wanted to do but the idea kept popping up. You see I had just quit a job the November before without any plan. I was highly skilled and confident I could find a job but when that didn’t happen, I was looking to see what was next. The more I thought about home inspection, the more excited I got. So in the Spring I started taking classes and making a way to get my license. I spent the better part of 2015 really getting everything in place. By the end of 2015 I was ready to take on the New Year with my own business.
The thing is, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I had never been successful at “selling” myself whether it was my artwork or leadership or whatever the ‘thing’ was. I didn’t know how to run a business. I knew houses pretty well because I had spent years building them with Habitat all over the country, but business…it was all new. So I jumped and and did something.
My first paid home inspection was January 2016. The race has begun! In the last year I have learned a lot! I have learned a lot about business. I have learned a lot about people. I have learned a lot about myself. Here are some of my findings:
1. Starting a business is one of the hardest things I have ever done.
There were many ways that starting a business was easy. Or perhaps simple is a better word. There are certain things you have to do in order to be successful, that’s a given. One of those things is hard work. When I started, every job was mine. Accounting. Marketing. Inspector. Receptionist. And the list could go on and on. Some days I wanted to quit because I was working so hard but not seeing results yet, but like most things, results rarely show up quickly. I learned a valuable lesson in perseverance.
I learned not only perseverance but also that sometimes work looks differently. I am such a task oriented person that studying and reading and being relational, all VERY IMPORTANT aspects of owning a business, seemed nothing like work. They were tasks sure, but quite different than what I was used to. I had to understand that each hat brings different job responsibilities and that was a hard adjustment.
2. Being an Entrepreneur can be pretty lonely.
One of the things that attracted me to starting my own business was that I could make my own schedule and I could be flexible to do the things I wanted to do. What I failed to consider is that most people don’t live that way. Most people don’t own their own company. Most people don’t get to do what they want with their days. So not only was I doing something that most people I knew weren’t, that also meant the number of people I could ask for help was pretty slim. Over the year, God has blessed me with incredible people to help me and encourage me. I will never despise the day of those small beginnings.
3. Just do something.
I am an ESTJ. I love a plan and a schedule. So in many ways I have had to grow a ton. Setting my own schedule is nice to a degree but at some point it is easy to fall into paralysis because the time seems so endless. When I first started I was so worried about doing everything “right” that I didn’t do anything at all. Eventually I came up with a game plan to get my name out there and I did something. Granted that process needed to be honed and refined, it was a start.
I think this lesson carries over into every day life even. We want to have this image that everyone sees to be perfect or as close to it but whenever you start something new, it is often messy. There are things you learn, things you start doing and stop doing. Why? Because it is a process and rarely are those neat.
4. I am far more capable than I believed myself to be.
I remember one of the first times I went and shadowed another inspector on an inspection. He asked me questions and quizzed me as we went. I was not expecting that and felt like I had failed miserably. By the time I got home I was convinced I had made the biggest mistake of my life. I talked to an older retired man from church and he quickly talked me off the ledge. He shared with me how he felt the same way when he graduated pharmacy school. He didn’t think He would ever remember everything and get it all right. From that moment on, he lent faith in me til I had my own faith in me.
The longer I have gone on in owning my own business, the more confident I have become. I clearly don’t know everything yet, nor am anywhere close, but I know that I am a good inspector and can do this business thing. I look forward to instilling that same hope and faith in the next one who comes along. I can also honestly say I don’t regret it for even a minute. While it is hard and sometimes lonely, I am quite confident I have grown exponentially as a human because of this experience. I look forward for the years to come. I look forward to hiring employees and figuring out new problems along the road. Entrepreneurship is a lot of things but boring isn’t one of them.
So with all that said, here we go with year 2! I hope to double my inspections and possibly even hire my first employee. I know that 2017 is going to be a great year for OKC Inspections. Here’s to 2017. Here is to year 2! THE BEST IS YET TO COME!