Ten years ago, I took a beginner Reiki workshop—never thinking it would inspire me to make a major career transition. But I loved what I learned in my Reiki intro and continued taking classes. Over the two years of my Reiki training, I slowly started to think about seeing clients and creating a business of my own—leaving my day job as a development director at various arts nonprofits in the process.
When I first created my practice, I spent so much time and effort, and experienced so much angst, trying to figure out which business strategies worked best for me. Some of the challenges I faced included how to find clients in person and online, how to market to my ideal client base, how many hours per week I could work without getting burned out, as well as how to deal with challenging clients and build my confidence as a practitioner.
To help you avoid the worry and pitfalls I faced, here are five things nobody tells you about starting your own business:
1. You may want to consider getting a bridge job.
A bridge job is a temporary position that you take once you leave traditional employment to become a small-business owner. It can be incredibly stressful to rely solely on the income from your new business when you’re first starting out.
When I decided to start my own business, I first found a part-time job as a fundraising consultant at a holistic education center. This gave me time to begin to build my client base while still earning a stable income. Easing into your career transition with a bridge job will allow you to create a financial cushion upon which to build your passion project.
2. It’s going to be scary.
I’m all about being positive, but starting a business of your own will always be a scary task. However, if you think about it, this can be said of any new endeavor that stretches you or helps you grow. You just need to jump in, do a little bit every day, and find a way to stay centered along the way.
For me, this meant educating myself about all aspects of running my own business—benchmarking with more experienced wellness practitioners; reading books; signing up for business workshops, webinars, and e-newsletters. Getting regular bodywork and hypnosis sessions from practitioners who served as mentors was a vital tool to help me alleviate stress in my life and work through my own issues. As a new practitioner, it also helped me work through the fear of starting my own business and helped me understand the work that I was doing as a practitioner from the inside out.
3. You have to learn to love marketing (yes, it’s possible).
I believe that the more heart centered you are in your marketing, the more your business will resonate with the public. Once you connect with prospective customers from a place of honesty, your conversations will feel much less sales-driven. Rather, they'll become opportunities to build trust and find an audience of people who feel comfortable with you and need what you offer.
Before I started my wellness practice, I thought I hated anything to do with marketing, but as I went along I realized that marketing is simply a more focused way to connect with others. I started to slowly figure out the kinds of clients and issues I wanted to specialize in and learned how to describe how what I do can help these clients with their problems. This took time, but the more I practiced, the more I was able to relax into it.
4. Be prepared to pay quarterly taxes.
I know, I know, thinking about taxes is probably not one of your favorite activities, and it's definitely not one of my favorite things about owning my own business. But it's important to remember that as the owner of your own business, you aren’t receiving a paycheck from your employer with your taxes already deducted, so you’ll need to pay quarterly taxes to the IRS.
If you wait until the end of the year, the IRS adds a penalty fee to your balance due. The IRS wants you to look into your crystal ball and predict what your income will be for the year. Setting aside this money can be especially challenging as a new business owner, as you’re figuring out what your income will be. I found a good accountant to help me, and I created a budget with my income and expense projections.
5. You'll need to discover how to avoid burnout.
As the owner of your own business, you will have a flexible daily schedule, which can be great! However, it’s much harder to end the workday when you're working for yourself, and I often end up working weekends and early mornings on administrative tasks and upcoming projects. Especially when you’re first starting out, you will likely be working or thinking about working on your business 24/7.
Brainstorm ways you can get your work done while also taking care of yourself by making a list of activities that help you avoid burnout. Maybe it's yoga classes, meditation sessions, meals with friends, or simply time to lie on your couch and read a novel. Whatever it is, schedule it in as if it’s an official appointment or meeting and actually take the time to do it. You’ll be more efficient and productive once you do—I promise.
Enjoy the journey of creating something special as you build your business from the ground up, but always remember to be gentle with yourself along the way.
Here’s to your successful business, and best of luck!