How Being My Own Boss Changed My Life

Photo Credit: How Being My Own Boss Changed My Life

I’ve been self-employed for basically my entire adult life and over that time has taught me so many lessons. I had a lot of insecurities from the circumstances of my childhood and I most likely would have never faced any of them if I took a more conventional path in life. Today I want to share three ways being my own boss has changed my life.

1. Learning To Accept “NO” As An Answer

Despite every entrepreneurial or sales guru telling us that we should never accept no as an answer, sometimes that’s just not how things work out. I had a very difficult time being told no most of my life and I believe that came from unresolved issues regarding abandonment. Every time I would get that answer I could feel some pit of nervousness building up inside of me because I would immediately think I’d done something wrong, and I’d end up pushing people away because I would try to fix a situation that didn’t need fixing. What I’ve realized is that just because someone tells you no does not mean they’re directly attacking you, and sometimes I even find that down the road hearing no was the best thing that could have happened to me in certain situations.

In terms of hearing the word no in business, well I still don’t like that because generally that means money walking out of the door. Owning a retail business means that I see quite a few people every day, a percentage of those people are new customers who usually didn’t even know we existed. Despite being in sales for my entire career I can honestly say I hate using salesman tactics; instead my approach is always to have a genuine conversation surrounding answering a potential customers questions honestly so they have as much information as possible when making a decision. No matter what I say some of those customers will simply tell me they aren’t interested in making a purchase, and my way of handling this in the early days of my business would be to get nervous and immediately try to persuade them towards changing their mind. Now that I’ve had a few years of practice I’ve realized that no matter what a customer says I treat everyone with the same kindness, even if that answer is no. What’s ironic is because our company policy is to treat everyone equally the majority of customers that initially say no end up coming back in a few weeks because they remembered how nice or non-pushy we were.

Moral of this story: Just because someone says no doesn’t mean it’s a personal attack, and the way we respond to the answer “no” is more important than the answer itself.

2. Overcoming My Social Anxiety

This might come as a surprise to some but even though I’ve always worked with the public in some way, shape, or form I’ve always struggled with an immense amount of anxiety. I can vividly remember the fear I would feel when I had to meet a new person or if I saw a girl at a coffee shop that I thought was cute. This of course made me miserable over the years and led to a lot of nights sitting in my house wishing I had said something. It takes a lot to overcome that, but honestly without my business I wouldn’t have learned that there’s nothing to be afraid of when it comes to other people. No one is going to bite my head off just for saying hi, and I can probably count on one hand the amount of times someone has approached me with any type of hostility.

I eventually got fed up with living in fear and decided to make a change. I ended up using my career as a method of training on how to talk to people with little to no trouble. I can make an entire series on overcoming depression and anxiety, but the TLDR is after years of practice I’ve reached a point where I’m simply unafraid of anyone. I have no issue introducing myself at a social event, no more awkward first dates ending in absolute disaster due to running out of things to talk about, and if someone approaches me I’m able to strike up a conversation with them and feel like I’m their equal. Life is full of many uncomfortable situations, but all of us can learn how to be comfortable when we find ourselves in the midst of discomfort.

Side note: Finding out I’m Bipolar Type 1 and getting proper treatment for that at the age of 26 definitely helped quite a bit, but a lot of my work with overcoming my anxiety had to come from a place within me and not just from medication.

3. Learning To Not Be Afraid Of Taking Chances

In order to become your own boss you naturally have to take a lot of chances. I was definitely afraid of this when I was first starting my self-employment and honestly well before then. I can remember the thoughts I had when I wanted to start my first business, “what will my parents think when I tell them”, “are people going to think I’m crazy”, “what if I fail?”

Of course all of that can seem reasonable, but a quote I once heard in an old Disney movie still pops up in my head every once in a while, “never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” So what does that mean? I can’t lie to you and tell you that I’ve never failed, and I certainly won’t dupe you into believing that there’s no chance of failure in life. It doesn’t have to just be in business; it can be relationships, school, starting a blog and never figuring out how to grow (I hope that’s not me). The truth is life is full of far more failures than successes, but it’s how we respond to those failures that defines us. If I had let the fear of failure outweigh my desire to try I would not have the life I’m currently living, and now as I’m offered new opportunities or have ideas for new businesses I know how to attack it head on.

Let me give you example of this before we wrap this up. I’ve been writing since I was very little. When I told my mother I was going to be an engineering and biology major in college she was shocked that I wasn’t declaring English or creative writing as my career path. Obviously I’m not using my degree at all (I’ll make an article about why I don’t regret that), but because I never stopped writing I felt confident in trying my hand at being a content writer when I first heard of the concept. Now I have three clients I’m writing for every month and I now have an additional income stream doing something I love.

It’s time for us to wrap this up, so let me leave you with the point of this story. It’s ok to be afraid, it’s ok to fail, and it’s ok to not always get what you want in life. I once lived in constant regret from the things I didn’t say or the chances I didn’t take, but learning to overcome that has shaped me into the person I am today. It’s not easy, but applying these lessons to my life has yielded results far beyond anything I could have ever imagined when I was that scared little high schooler in the back of the classroom.

I’ll see you next time everyone!

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