DIY Life: 8 Realities You Should Know Before Starting Your Own Business

by Mikey McManus

Two years into starting my own business, I still have no f*cking clue what I’m doing. That said, we’re a generation bound by three things: our unrepentant sarcasm, the inevitability of major career and life changes in our 20s and the impassioned desire to work together to make this world a better place.

Though not all of us who break free from the shackles of corporate America will be able to reach baller levels of success by our second years of business, there are still some tips a savvy entrepreneur like me can dole out to help make that inevitable first fall less painful.

Here’s an eight-point checklist that may ease some of the growing pains:

1. Learn your sleep cycle.

Chances are, you won’t be getting much of it, but understanding how your body rests is the key to unlocking extra hours to use for slaving away at your passion. Most people go through a full sleep cycle in four hours and average two cycles per night, but now that you’re one mistake away from sleeping on a sidewalk, you no longer have that luxury.

The good news is, one full cycle will leave you feeling less tired than if you woke up in the middle of a cycle and slept for longer. I can’t stress this one enough, as it will be a key to staying healthy throughout the inevitable years of struggle ahead of you, and as we all know, you don’t have health insurance.

2. A gym membership is a necessary expense.

Though sometimes the lack of sleep will necessitate cutting a workout short, having a gym to use is helpful for several reasons. Firstly, the unhealthy amount of coffee you will ingest on a daily basis has its biochemical limits; at some point, it will fail to wake you up.

In addition to keeping the CEO of your company looking his/her best, the gym can be a great place to catch up on all the shows you’ve been too busy to watch. Secondly, a gym means a shower, and when you have just come off of a marathon work binge and need to look presentable for some BS meeting with employed people who can’t possibly know how messed up your lifestyle has become, sometimes the baby wipes just won’t cut it.

And of course, there’s the intrinsic health benefits and avoidance of illness, which we all know develop into crippling debt thanks to your lack of health insurance.

3. You don’t need an office; you need a desk.

One of my bigger regrets from the first eight months of unbridled fear was the $6,500 I wasted on an office space. It was money that I could have been spent more wisely elsewhere, like maybe on health insurance. A desk is all that’s necessary and you can get one on Craigslist that probably won't give you the Hep. A desk will serve the primary purpose of collecting stacks of unpaid bills and sticky notes with hastily scrawled phone numbers.

It also helps to create a space in your shamefully messy apartment for you to focus solely on following your dream of browsing Facebook for hours then masturbating at work.

4. You can’t bring all of your friends along, so choose wisely.

The truth is, most of your friends are too stupid to help you start a successful business (but so are you and that hasn’t stopped you yet). But, who better to eventually grow to resent than those you love the most? While it took a full 12 months before my best friend and I had an inevitable fistfight, many friends who work together are not as lucky and get stuck harboring their resentment for years.

The general rule of thumb is that if you’re close enough to fart in front of each other, you’ll have a smelly office. When you do pick your friends to bring along with you, do the smart thing and get everyone to sign a contract up front. That way, you can really screw them over when they’re found to be in breach with no arbitration and lose all of their points right before you cash out.

5. Learn to do some basic accounting.

Remember math? You were pretty good at it back in high school, weren’t you? While most things in life you forget, the Pythagorean Theorem is not one of them. Turns out, though, all the rest of math is. There’s a bunch of math — like taxes and expense reports — that your business requires. Relearn the basic math you need to keep your business successful and cost efficient.

6. Tell everyone personally.

I have an incredible friend named Ken. When he heard about my new company, he made a smart business decision by investing. If your friends are foolish enough to have kept you in their lives up to this point, they’re probably worth keeping around, as well. If I had taken the time to personally let everyone know why I was quitting an amazing job to live in the trunk of a car rather than ignore the flurry of confused Facebook posts, maybe there could have been a few more investors at my pity party, which brings me to…

7. Swallow your pride.

It’s going to be a long ride, and if you want to be able to hustle your way through the first few years, you must become shameless. Be willing to work for less than your pay grade, take jobs that are meaningless and resort to manual labor if all else fails; it will all help your cause.

To be really successful, though, you must be willing to wipe your ass on the sidewalk in broad daylight.

8. Have a plan.

Lastly, some sort of business plan might help. I don’t know, though; I’m still sort of figuring that sh*t out.

Follow Mikey on Twitter @waywardmikey.

Photo via We Heart It