6 Lessons I’ve Learned as an Entrepreneur

Hello A Dot! It’s been a while, but I’m happy to be back. So much has happened since my last entry. An engagement, a pandemic, a marriage and baby number two, but that’s a story for another day. Today I want to talk about a few of the lessons that I’ve learned since becoming an entrepreneur. If you’re thinking of becoming your own boss, I encourage you to continue  reading. 

May 2021 will mark three years since I incorporated Plan A York and what an A-mazing three years it’s been. There have been a lot of ups and downs over the past three years, but so many lessons have been learned. Although some of the lessons have been tough, I wouldn’t change a thing!  

1. You will doubt yourself. This comes with trying anything new, but that doesn’t make it any easier. I still question myself on a daily basis: Am I doing the right thing? Is this the right decision? I have no idea what I’m doing – I hope this works. I think this is one of the toughest things I’ve gone through as an entrepreneur – getting used to being solely responsible for everything, both the fails and successes, and trusting that I’m making the best decision for myself, my team and my business.  

2. It’s a lot of hard work. Regardless of the industry you’re in, you will work harder than you ever have, especially in the beginning. Forget the 8am-4pm life with weekends off. To start, you’re the HR department, you’re the secretary, you’re the finance  department, you’re the marketing department… the list goes on and on. I’ve been up until 1am completing invoicing and worked weeks in a row with no days off. It seems like the work never ends because once you complete one task, you have ten more on your list! One of my favourite quotes about entrepreneurship is: Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t. The work is hard, but oh so worth it in the end!  

3. It can get lonely. Operating a business on your own can be quite lonely, especially if you’re as social as I am! I hired my first office staff in October 2020, but due to COVID-19 we have yet to work together in person. After working with the public for so many years and, more recently, working with the Plan A and StaffStat teams prior to opening Plan A York, I sometimes find it difficult to stay motivated without a team to work with and bounce ideas off of. Of course, I have “my people” that I go to when I have an idea that I want feedback on or a question I can’t answer on my own, but I often miss working alongside a team. 

4. You can never truly step away. When I hired my first office employee in October, I also hired someone strictly for after-hours on-call shifts. This allowed me to step away and spend more time with my family before we added another baby to the mix in January. Even though I have two amazing staff taking care of recruitment and on-call shifts, I still find myself checking in when I don’t need to. Plan A is like my third baby! And although my team is amazing, I always want to have a pulse on what’s going on. No two days are alike and when you love what you do, you always make sure that everything is running smoothly.  

5. It’s stressful making all of the decisions on your own. As I already mentioned, one of the toughest things I’ve had to get used to is being solely responsible for everything  when it comes to my business, both the good and the bad. There are so many big  decisions to make as a business owner that I never thought of when I started: Am I in a  good enough place financially to hire an office employee? Should I look at moving into an office rather than operating from home? There are days I wish I had a business  partner to discuss my options with; someone who truly understands everything I’m going through. Although I have “my people” to go to, no one truly understands what you’re going through like you do.  

6. You have to roll with the punches. There will be unexpected hiccups along the way and  guess what? You have no other option but to keep pushing forward if you want to survive. A prime example: the COVID-19 pandemic. When COVID-19 first came to Canada and began entering our long-term care homes, we had no idea what we were in for. Everything changed: our recruitment process switched from in-person to virtual, we went from providing casual staffing support to filling full-time lines, we had to change countless internal processes over and over to keep up with the changes put in place by the government… the list goes on. Although it would’ve been easier to give up, we ran into the fire instead and did what we needed to do to support our partners and continue caring for our most vulnerable.

~Tessa Anderson, Owner/Operator, Plan A York Region

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