So, You Want to Be a #GirlBoss?

 
Photographs by Lindsey Eryn

Photographs by Lindsey Eryn

The #Girlboss hashtag rose in popularity in 2014, when Sophia Amoruso, founder of Nasty Gal, released her debut memoir by the same title. Social media became flooded with photos of coffee, of running shoes, of to-do lists being accomplished, all donned with the hashtag.

Clearly, the #Girlboss movement has been popular, and the heart of the movement is good and empowering. Sophia Amoruso herself is a prime example of what it means to be a #girlboss. In 2006, when she was 22, she started an eBay business selling vintage clothing, which she named Nasty Gal Vintage. She soon left the eBay platform to found her own retailer and has only grown in success since. She hustles, creates, and embodies what it means to be an entrepreneur. At the core, being a #girlboss means you strive for better, you take risks, you show the world you are capable of so much more. And I think sometimes, it means proving to yourself that you truly are worthy of taking up space.

Today, there are 27 million entrepreneurs in the United States. And according to the 2012 U.S. census, 36% of all businesses are owned by women. As women, we are no longer sitting on the sidelines, waiting for a product to be invented. Instead, we notice the need and we take action. We’re stepping up and taking risks, putting everything on the line for a business we believe in. It is encouraging to see women decidedly creating a better world.

While these statistics are encouraging, we can’t ignore the facts. The statistics differentiate a little, but according to Bloomberg, about eighty percent of businesses fail within the first 18 months. There are several reasons for this, one being lack of funds, but I believe a major contributor is burn out.

Entrepreneurship is a tough business. With social media we tend to idolize being your own boss without taking an honest look at what it actually requires of us, the time and resources we have to sacrifice. The idea of working from home in your pajamas, jet-setting around the world, and setting your own schedule sounds appealing, but the unfortunate truth is this isn’t the whole truth. Are there perks to being your own boss? Absolutely. Is one of those perks working in your pajamas? Sometimes, but only because you began working at 4 am and haven’t had time to get ready for the day.

The idea of working from home in your pajamas, jet-setting around the world, and setting your own schedule sounds appealing, but the unfortunate truth is this isn’t the whole truth.

I think there are some things to remember and to consider before venturing out into entrepreneurship:

Setting your own schedule. While it is true that being your own boss allows you some freedom in your schedule, people tend to fantasize that this means they can take a Tuesday afternoon off, or sleep in until 10 am. The trouble with this is that you often work the entire weekend to afford yourself an afternoon off. Entrepreneurship requires many more hours than you could imagine, and 15-hour days, unfortunately, become the norm. So yes, you may have a bit of freedom in your schedule, but often you make up for that freedom by working all-nighters several times a week.

You take vacation whenever you want. More often than not, entrepreneurs take less vacation, specifically if your business has a home base. Suddenly you realize how essential you are to the everyday operation of your endeavor, especially in the beginning stages of your business. There are no systems in place, no teams to fill your role in your absence, there is only you. Social media doesn’t show that entrepreneurs usually take their work on vacation with them. It doesn’t show that they pulled a few all-nighters and worked a few weekends straight in order to have a few days off. Taking vacation becomes increasingly more difficult once you own your own business.

Resources can be limited. Another misconception of entrepreneurship is that money will flow in quickly. Many people don’t realize how long it takes a business to break even, let alone make a profit. Several business owners forfeit paychecks for months, even years, in hopes of building a successful business.

You will gain margin in your life. The idea of being able to set your own schedule causes most of us to believe we will finally find that healthy work/life balance. This couldn’t be further from the truth for entrepreneurs. The ability to separate work from life becomes increasingly difficult, and the lines become blurred. You find yourself saying no to social engagements and friendships more often than not. You find yourself feeling guilty for not working at midnight on a Friday. It’s next to impossible to enjoy any free time because your mental to-do list is continually growing longer.

Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. The “hustle season” is very much a reality. It is difficult, grueling, often unappreciated work. Social media doesn’t show us the long days. It doesn’t show us that instead of laying on the beach with your family, you worked for 8 hours at the beach house. It doesn’t show us the unhealthy amounts of coffee, the crammed calendars, the tired eyes.

Being your own boss is truly one of the most rewarding adventures you will ever set out on. But please don’t be fooled into believing it’s easy. Social media likes to show us the highlights. Don’t forget the highlights are just that, the highlights. There is a lot going on behind-the-scenes that we rarely get a glimpse of.

So before you decide to step out on your own, take an honest look at what being a #girlboss will require of you. Consider the extra hours, the lack of sleep, the stress of not receiving a paycheck. Consider the social engagements you will have to say no to, the friendships that will inevitably suffer, the vacations you will have to sacrifice.

And when you decide entrepreneurship is still worth it, remember to prioritize your health. Take a deep breath every now and then, stop and rest and enjoy the process. Drink a lot of water, fight for the space to decompress after a long day of work. Look around and smile at the work you are creating.

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