The entrepreneur life is difficult. A lot rides on every decision you make each and every day BUT is it really worth it?
I speak to Bonnie, who has had 6 years of experience working as an entrepreneur. She gives a little insight into life as an entrepreneur and what it can offer, as well as some absolutely amazing nuggets of wisdom about creating healthy boundaries and respect! We dig in really deep and uncover some gritty truths about what it really takes to live out the life of an entrepreneur. It is no mean feat! It really takes grit, determination and perseverance, and most of all, balance.
This article is absolutely necessary for advice, insight AND tips on becoming a successful entrepreneur, wherever you are at in the game!
Whether you are just starting out, have many years tucked under your belt or are looking to consolidate what you already know!
6 years in business | 3 years full-time. Bonnie is the fun-loving gal behind Bonnie Bryant Creative.
Along with her talent for writing and design, Bonnie leverages her considerable luxury sales and marketing know-how to transform her clients’ brands. Bonnie designs stunning visuals and beautiful websites that tell the story of your brand with just a glance. An award-winning writer, she crafts creative, effective copy that captures your unique voice and tells your customers who you are. She also designs artwork on the side for fun! When not sipping iced coffee and tap-tapping on her keyboard, you can find Bonnie in her home studio with a paintbrush or hanging with her husband Dennis and three rescue pets.
Why did you become an entrepreneur/what made you want to pursue the entrepreneur life?/What was the most appealing thing about this lifestyle?
The independence of entrepreneurship and the concept of building something of my own have always appealed to me. I’ve always wanted to run my own business, but I didn’t always know what that would look like. As my business has grown, it’s evolved into a perfect combination of what I’m good at + what I love doing + what’s profitable.
“The stress of entrepreneurship is real: you need to hustle and fight for every penny. Every dollar in my bank account is one I’ve worked my tail off for – it’s such a different feeling than getting a paycheck from someone else every two weeks on payday.”
What has been the toughest aspect of living the entrepreneur lifestyle?
The stress of entrepreneurship is real: you need to hustle and fight for every penny. Every dollar in my bank account is one I’ve worked my tail off for – it’s such a different feeling than getting a paycheck from someone else every two weeks on payday. As an entrepreneur, you need to juggle so many balls at once. You’re where the buck stops if something goes wrong. You need to be your own biggest cheerleader: marketing, pitching, making phone calls and connections, and following up on everything. You need to be the decision maker. It can be really scary! That being said, my worst day at Bonnie Bryant Creative is still miles better than my worst day at a 9-5.
“Having my business has changed my life for the better. When you need to stand up and be strong in your professional life, you start demanding the same respect in other areas. “
What changes did you have to make personally, emotionally, physically to adapt to this particular lifestyle?
Having my business has changed my life for the better. When you need to stand up and be strong in your professional life, you start demanding the same respect in other areas. I had to stop being a people-pleaser and to learn the difference between being providing a great customer experience and toxic people-pleasing. It boils down to having and keeping boundaries.
I’m responsive, friendly, send my clients amazing thank you gifts, and go the extra mile. But I also have specific communication policies in my contract (no texting, phone calls must be scheduled), I stick to all of my contracted duties and charge accordingly for extra work the client may want (my time needs to be respected), and I really try to protect my energy as much as possible.
I’ve had clients that walked all over me – texting me at 10 PM Saturday nights and expecting an immediate response, calling me non-stop until I answered, expecting thousands of dollars worth of extra work for free, were serially late in paying me, you name it. I learned that I had to trust my red flags before signing someone on and that I didn’t have to accept this bad behavior – it was my job to set clear boundaries and to stick to them. Investing in an excellent contract is a good way to start setting boundaries: “Per our contract, I don’t text clients about work; Per our contract, if you want another deliverable, I’ll have to charge an additional fee.” Physically, I’m not always the best example. I drink too much coffee and get very little sleep. I never eat enough – it’ll be 3 PM before I sit down for my first meal of the day. However, being self-employed has given me the time and flexibility to exercise more and to take better care of my mental health.
What sacrifices have you had to make for the entrepreneur life?
The biggest sacrifice has been steady income – having the same amount of money in my checking account every payday. I’d probably travel to fancier places and have nicer material things if I still were at a 9-5 because my income would be steadier and I wouldn’t be pouring it all back into my business.
Honestly, I felt like I was sacrificing more at a 9-5. I hated having to ration my 15 PTO days across a whole year. I hated having someone else in charge of my salary – what do you mean, the company can’t afford to give me a raise? Why did someone else get to determine my worth? Now, if I want a day off, I take it. I can take road trips to see friends and work from their living rooms. If I need more money, I come up with another income stream and do my best to make it happen.
“Honestly, don’t overthink it – you’ll never be 100% ‘ready.'”
“Be careful who you ask for advice at first. So many people will give you bad advice. Trust yourself – you know what’s best. Get feedback from a tight, trusted circle of supporters, but don’t ask your entire family/friend group/the internet what they think before you make a move.”
What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about transitioning into the entrepreneur life?
Save up as much cushion money as possible first to help with the transition. When I quit, I had enough to cover my basic expenses for a while. Having a partner who helps with household income helps – I was the breadwinner at my last 9-5, but my husband made enough to bridge the gap until I started bringing in more money. I always want to acknowledge my privilege in that regard: even though it was financially hard for a while, my husband was willing to sacrifice for my dream and was very supportive.
Honestly, don’t overthink it – you’ll never be 100% “ready.” I quit my last 9-5 because I couldn’t take the toxic work environment and stress any longer – I’d reached my breaking point and gave my two weeks notice. A year before that, I would’ve thought, “I need a fully formed business plan and a year’s worth of expenses saved up and a million other things before I start my business!” But then one day, I just had enough. My nerves were shot and my physical health was deteriorating. I thought, “If I’m ever gonna start my own business, it’s gonna be now.”
Don’t beat yourself up if you shift focus or make mistakes over your first year – there’s no owner’s manual for entrepreneurship.
Be careful who you ask for advice at first. So many people will give you bad advice. Trust yourself – you know what’s best. Get feedback from a tight, trusted circle of supporters, but don’t ask your entire family/friend group/the internet what they think before you make a move.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur?
The time flexibility. That I can work on my sofa in a bathrobe while “Gossip Girls” is on in the background, with my dog sleeping beside me. That I’ve created a successful business out of my own creativity. That I’m building something of my very own. That through my business, I can lift up other female business owners.
What entrepreneurs inspire you?
Anna Rifle Bond of Rifle Paper Co. is the ultimate goal. She’s living my dream life. Aubrie Pagano of Bow + Drape is so cool. I love that she took a fun, feminine concept and turned it into a seriously successful business with major tech/finance street cred. Anyone who’s had the guts to start a business and trust in themselves. Think about it – so many things you love, you can enjoy because some person had the nerve to believe in their vision and start a company. I wouldn’t have my favorite purse, my best-loved makeup, even the Starbucks on my desk if the people who started those businesses didn’t have the guts to take the leap.
Some other fun bits about Bonnie …
What is your go-to coffee?
It’s sickening. A large iced Americano with extra cream and two splenda. It has like, four shots of espresso in it and I slurp it down in ten minutes. I’m always afraid it’s going to give me a heart attack.
What does your daily routine look like?
I’m a late sleeper. I used to leave my house at 5:30 AM for work – never again! My goal is to start working by 10 AM. I usually hit a mental wall around 3 PM, so that ’s when I run errands, go to the store, or go for a walk. I work again from 7PM to around 11 or 12 at night, usually later. I’m a total night owl, but I Boomerang all my emails to go out at 8 AM so my clients don’t get a 3 AM email and think I’m nuts.