When you’re a student, typically the only responsibilities are school, family and friends, and work. For work, it can be anywhere ranging from retail, food, possibly an entry level job, or, like me, trying to get a business of your own off the ground.
Even though I’ve been doing photography for a few years and booking clients every once in awhile, this past year has felt the most like I’ve been running a business. In these recent months I’ve had consistent work and it’s definitely refreshing to see the work I put into my craft progress in terms of cliental. But because I’m also a student, I’ve quickly learned that trying to get this business off the ground as well as keeping up with school is a difficult task mentally.
There are three things that I’ve realized are extremely stressful when it comes to starting up a small business and being a student, and they are as follows:
Typically, being a college student is stressful on its own. The exams, the papers, the studying; so much goes into being a student, and to stay on track you have to be on top of your game. Add work responsibilities on top of being a student, and it’s a stressful time. It’s easy to slip.
Starting your own business isn’t the same as working at a regular part-time job.
When you’re at a part-time, your responsibilities usually end when you clock out, then you can worry about your student responsibilities, family obligations, finding time to relax, and whatever else you may need to tend to. However, when you’re starting your own business, you are always on the clock. Applying it to my job, photography, videography, and editing: you always have footage or photos to edit, you always have clients to follow-up with, and you always have to think of new ways to market yourself to expand the business. Along with that you have to keep practicing and perfecting your craft to keep yourself ahead of the competition. So much time and effort goes into starting your own business, so seems as if everything is accelerated. I’ve found myself several times wishing there were more hours in the day, as many other people do.
Choosing Which to Focus On
As in life, you’ll have to make some compromises. Some days you may really need to get a paper done, so you push an edit to a later time or to the next day. Other days you’ll have a client hard-pressing you for a draft of your product, and at the same time you have to study for an exam the next day, so you decide you’ll cram right before class and hope that you really retained the information without going over it again. Especially because you’re just starting out, you’re going to make the wrong decision a few times. In one situation, the client might get frustrated because you didn’t send a draft or the end product soon enough, then you lose credibility with them and any of their connections. In another situation, you may get a pretty undesirable grade on test because you spent all night finishing an edit for a client that won’t reply for another few days. It’s all about making compromises and trying to figure out which should take priority.
Yes, a lot of people will say it’s obvious, school first, but it’s a little different when its your own business. You have a reputation to keep, that determines if you get more work or not. The business is almost like a baby; it requires a lot of attention and in the long run, all this attention may turn out to be the difference whether or not the future is changed, but you won’t know until it gets there.
There are two sides to this.
One side is staying motivated to keep it up in school.
For me, I have a strong, strong passion for my craft, for filmmaking and photography. Sometimes it’s so strong where I question whether or not I want to keep going on with school because I want to keep pushing my business, keeping perfecting what I do. The thing that always brings me back to finishing school is that my parents really want me to finish, and they accept that after college, I will commit myself entirely to my business, and put off the conventional route for a little bit. I am grateful beyond words that they have that kind of attitude towards what I want to do, the issue is that sometimes it feels like I’m taking away from my business because of the years I cannot fully commit myself to my it. At times I’d rather spend my days at workshops than learning about Toulmin’s Model of Argument.
The other side is staying motivated to keep the business going.
Starting your own business is a risky move. This gets into my head more often than I’d like. The amount of thoughts that get into my head are maddening.
Is it worth it? What if this doesn’t work out? Should I give up?
Those thoughts pop up too often. They’re demoralizing. With the amount of time, effort, and heart I’ve put into this, thinking about throwing it away feels horrible. If I throw it away, it almost feels like I’ve wasted a large chunk of my life so far doing something that didn’t amount to anything. If you read back to my older post, Two Things That Turned My Hobby Into A Business, you’ll see I think self-motivation is a major key in being successful and continuing the growth of any business.
All in all, these three things are the most stressful things I have come across thus far. I’m still young, my business is still young, I’m sure these thoughts will change as time goes on, but as of now, these are my thoughts; I hope they’ll help at least one student trying to start their own business, because man is it hard.