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Hey guys! I’m Natalie—a creative entrepreneur building businesses and mobilizing tens of thousands in the spirit of community over competition. Left brain meets right, and east coast meets west, I run on equal parts coffee, brains, & heart. I’m an educator, writer, and community builder who helps entrepreneurs create businesses that thrive.

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NATALIE FRANKE

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My Greatest Struggle as an Entrepreneur

11/17/15

Personal, Tech-Talk Tuesday

COMMENTS:

DATE:

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It was as if I had blinked and another year had gone by. Another year of broken promises, constant work, and exhaustion. When somewhere along the way, “It won’t be this way next year” became a cliche that I no longer had the energy to muster.

I found myself overwhelmed by the very thing that once inspired me, crushed under the heaping weight of my daily routine. And none of this compared to the overwhelming feelings of guilt that consumed me each and every time I had to say no to the things in life that I cherished the most.

I had started to believe the lie that things would calm down if I simply had a few more hours in the day. That somehow getting “caught up” would allow me to turn an unsustainable workflow into the lifestyle that I so desperately needed.

View More: http://kristaajones.pass.us/sanfran

If it was just running a company, I could handle it… but we’re taught that today’s entrepreneurs need to be so much more than business people. We need to have well styled Instagram Feeds, instantaneous turnaround times, and Pinterest-perfect homes. We need to look a certain way, fit into a certain mold, and measure up to impossible expectations that we, so often, place on ourselves. 

We heap more and more onto our plates until they are too hard to carry and the sheer weight of them brings us crumbling to our knees.

I had gotten to a point where I couldn’t handle the pressure any longer. I wanted to be an entrepreneur so that I could impact people’s lives. I wanted, as naive as it may seem, to change the world.

View More: http://kristaajones.pass.us/sanfran

There was a day not all that long ago when Huey came home and I was literally crying into my keyboard. Tears streaming down my face, my shoulders crumbling into my desk because I simply couldn’t take it any more. 

But unlike all the other times before, my husband said something that I had never heard him say. My constant encourager looked me square in the eye and responded —

“You are doing too much… and it’s killing you. Every time you say ‘yes’ to more work, your are saying ‘no’ to building a life with me.”

Oh, friends. This hit me like a ton of bricks that I never saw coming. I had gotten into the terrible habit of saying yes to everything. Yes to every email, every request, every opportunity. My desire to please people turned into an unhealthy inability to say no.  “No” is an incredibly empowering word if you allow it to be.

Saying no allows you to say yes to the things that truly matter in your life.

We don’t need more hours in the day. We need to be more dedicated to prioritizing, more diligent in protecting those hours that we reserve for our friends and family. When overwhelm begins to weigh on you… I want you to remember…

You are building a business in order to build a life.

It’s not the other way around. 

View More: http://kristaajones.pass.us/sanfran

Photos by: Krista + Davey Jones

To all of you who have ever felt exhausted, overwhelmed, overworked, or lost along the way. You’re not alone. To every person who has said yes to everyone, only to realize you’ve been saying no to the ones you love the most… I’m right there with you. 

Give yourself permission to say no. Give yourself grace. Give yourself the freedom to stumble, fail, and get back up again.

These are lessons I’m still learning each and every day.

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COMMENTS +

  1. Lauren Swann

    November 17th, 2015 at 7:52 am

    I absolutely love this, Natalie!! There’s so much truth in this… Your business means nothing if you can’t enjoy it with the people you love most!! Love you!! Xo!!

  2. Kelsey DeWitt

    November 17th, 2015 at 8:04 am

    You know this hits right at the heart strings and there is so much truth in these words <3 Lots of love xoxo

  3. Anna Grace Paulovkin

    November 17th, 2015 at 8:16 am

    Natalie, I love your heart!! I think setting boundaries is one of the biggest ways we can protect our marriages and families. Our work is not our identity and I love everything you said about balance. Love you!!

  4. Urška Majer

    November 17th, 2015 at 8:18 am

    Natalie, thank you for these words! Also, i have to say i love these photos of you two! 🙂

  5. Mary Marantz

    November 17th, 2015 at 8:19 am

    I LOVE you friend!! SO SOOOO good!

    xo
    m

  6. Renee

    November 17th, 2015 at 8:21 am

    Wow, this is spot on! So happy you have such an amazing hubby like Huey to love, help, and support you! So much truth to today’s post and so glad you shared it! xo

  7. Anna Scott

    November 17th, 2015 at 8:28 am

    Oh, thank you!!! This is exactly what I needed today. 🙂 I am in the same boat right now that you were in and it is not healthy. Thank you for being vulnerable.

  8. Sophie Baker

    November 17th, 2015 at 8:29 am

    Aaaaaaamen, Natalie! Amen.

  9. Kristen Browning

    November 17th, 2015 at 8:40 am

    Yes yes yes!!! I feel you!!!!

  10. Blakely

    November 17th, 2015 at 8:41 am

    The Best Yes is a GREAT book all about saying no! I relate! I understand! Take a break and read the book… Or say no to reading it! Love you!

  11. Cherie Hurt

    November 17th, 2015 at 8:42 am

    Yesterday, I had to make the dreaded phone call to a fellow vendor to let them know I could no longer participate in a styled shoot we had been planning. I was crushed to know I had to say ‘no’….but if the Lord has been teaching me anything lately it’s that I have to be comfortable with saying no even when I so desperately want to say yes. It’s humbling and crumbling all at the same time..but the freedom you experience on the other side of that ‘no’ reminds you that you are gentle and passionate with your gifts and that the family you have supporting you deserves just as much love. THANK YOU for your honesty in this post – and whether or not it feels like it…you ARE changing the world. Be brave, Cherie

  12. Jenn Davis

    November 17th, 2015 at 8:42 am

    This is perfect! I’ve struggled with this in the past and have been so overwhelmed and completely unhappy. I’ve been very good this year with turning down jobs, but I still struggle sometimes. Thank you for posting this!

  13. Jennifer Norrick

    November 17th, 2015 at 8:42 am

    This!!!!!!!!! It’s like you were inside my head and wrote what I am thinking. Every time my children ask “Can you drop me here?” or “Can we do this together?” and my response is: “I have an appointment.” or “I need to get this done!” Time to take care of the things that really matter the most to me!

  14. Lindsay Colson

    November 17th, 2015 at 8:42 am

    Girl, you’re saying exactly what I’ve been feeling these last few months. Thank you for your honesty. Hoping we can all start making the best decisions! Thanks, friend!

  15. Maria

    November 17th, 2015 at 8:48 am

    Love this! That’s what I tell myself – for everything I say no to, I’m saying yes to something else. It’s hard to pick and choose, but it’s a battle worth fighting.

  16. Wynona

    November 17th, 2015 at 9:09 am

    I just love this!!!! I always remind myself you’re building a business because you want to build a life. It’s important to put what matter most. I think I do pretty well for it, except I’m fighting myself sometimes when I’m trying to unplug. I think we all have that struggles. Find joy in the journey. 🙂

  17. Janet

    November 17th, 2015 at 9:19 am

    I’m so happy to read this. Five minutes ago I turned down a wedding because it was on Memorial Day weekend when I anticipate being with family. Thank you for validity when I was doubting my decision.

  18. Emily

    November 17th, 2015 at 9:23 am

    I feel like we all understand where you’re coming from with this post. Thanks for being honest. I am getting much better at saying no this year and it is changing my quality of life for sure!

  19. Amanda Thomas

    November 17th, 2015 at 9:26 am

    This was exactly what I needed to hear. I just wiped away the tears that were streaming down my face and decided to put on my big girl panties and make the decision to say no! You are an inspiration. Thank you.–

  20. Heather

    November 17th, 2015 at 9:26 am

    Thank you for this! So we’ll put and I needed to hear it.

  21. Dennis Bullock

    November 17th, 2015 at 9:32 am

    Love this! You are so special Natalie.

  22. Adriean

    November 17th, 2015 at 9:48 am

    This is SO incredibly perfect and true!! I especially find it difficult because I work a full time job and go to school in addition to trying to be an entrepreneur. Not to mention trying to keep up with what all of the full time photographers are doing! Weekly blog posts, two week turnarounds, album design… And the list goes on and on. Whoa. Many times I have considered quitting because I just couldn’t keep up with all that it takes to be successful in this industry. Instead, I took a step back and redefined success for ME. Success for me is not a perfect Instagram feed, a two week turnaround, or a seemingly perfect life. Success for me is setting expectations appropriate for MY business, over delivering to MY standards, happy clients, loving what I do, and looking forward to doing more and more if it! It’s having enough additional income to take vacations and buy the things on my wish list. I try to remind myself of this every time the comparison monster try’s to scare me away from my dream. Thank you Natalie for this reminder!

  23. Lindsay M.

    November 17th, 2015 at 10:17 am

    I can’t even begin to thank you enough for this post!! I am a “yes” woman, and I have recently learned that saying “no” isn’t a bad thing unless you make it one. Not only did I have work, I had gone back to school, and my photography business, but my marriage and my dog + cats…by me saying yes to everything, all of it was suffering…I started to say no, and in doing so I was able to say yes to the people and things that mattered!!! Life has changed! THANK YOU for sharing this!!!

  24. Jen Larsen

    November 17th, 2015 at 10:26 am

    Oh wow this resonates on so many levels. This is definitely one of my biggest struggles…thank you for sharing this and being an inspiration! xoxo

  25. Ashley Durham

    November 17th, 2015 at 10:30 am

    God, I could have written this blog myself. Every single word of it. Thank you for your honesty!!

  26. Kelly

    November 17th, 2015 at 10:37 am

    Such a well written article, thank you for sharing your story. So many of us struggle with the same thing and it’s hard to put out there when you’re struggling and admit that you can’t do it all.

  27. Charlotte

    November 17th, 2015 at 10:56 am

    Thank you for this wonderful personal post. I have felt this way for years! Tack on two toddlers and major mommy guilt for not spending enough time with them, it’s time to make a change. This really resonated with me…building a business to build a life…that is the point of it all! Love this and thank you!

  28. Lauren Buman

    November 17th, 2015 at 10:58 am

    What a beautiful message to the path us creatives often find ourselves on. Thank you for sharing Natalie!

  29. Lindsay Hite

    November 17th, 2015 at 11:09 am

    I have completely been in this exact same space, and learned so much from the brink when I faced it down a couple of years ago. Always a struggle. Thank you for sharing your story Natalie. We all want to do amazing things, but we have to save some of our best selves for the people who we love. Time and being present is such a precious commodity xoxo

  30. Kendra Engel

    November 17th, 2015 at 11:11 am

    Thank you so much for these words. They are so real and so true and something I’m realizing so much right now. It’s okay to say no. So thank you!

  31. Heather Navratil

    November 17th, 2015 at 11:45 am

    Thank you for always being an inspiration to creatives everywhere

  32. Rachel

    November 17th, 2015 at 11:51 am

    Thank you!!!! You said what I’ve been feeling the last 2 months!

  33. how to avoid burnout » Kaitlyn Phipps Photography

    November 17th, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    […] more posts like this one, feel free to leave a note in the comments! And if you want to hear more, Natalie Franke blogged about this very thing […]

  34. Alicia Wiley

    November 17th, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    This post is ssooooo good! It’s exactly what I needed to read right now and the words describe how I feel everyday lately. Hugs <3

  35. Britaney

    November 17th, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    This was sooo needed today. I have been feeling this way for quite sometime. Thank you sooo much for your words!!!! <3

  36. Jennifer

    November 17th, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    So true! We all need to remember why we work!

  37. Nikki Santerre

    November 17th, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    Love this and LOVE you, sweet friend!

  38. Jenna Mace

    November 17th, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    Natalie…just beautiful! Thank you for sharing your heart. You are a blessing to so many.

  39. Ben Godkin

    November 17th, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    Finding a work/life balance is one of the hardest goals to achieve and has been one of my biggest challenges in the last few years. Thank you sharing your thoughts, you are not alone. 🙂

  40. Carmen

    November 17th, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    Really great post!!

  41. Michele Palmer

    November 17th, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    So true Natalie – this hit home! Thanks!

  42. Anna Kerns

    November 18th, 2015 at 2:07 am

    Love you Natalie! So very proud of you! And excited for all that you’re doing, NOT doing on purpose lol, and allowing God to do in your life! You are such a gem and encouragement! 🙂

  43. Jacqueline McClurg

    November 18th, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    This has me in tears. As I hold my 5 month old and my 3 and 5 year old watch their favorite movie for the 1000th time because I’m so completely overwhelmed with running and trying and running and trying. I want to lead them well, I want to build a life for them, but as I’m trying I’m missing their life in the here and now and it’s crushing me.

  44. Sarah Jane Dunaway

    November 18th, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    If only I had read this yesterday, then I could’ve given you the biggest hug ever today! As much as I agree with what you say, I’m pretty sure The Beau agrees more. I know he is tired of hearing me, at midnight, say “Just this last deadline.” I know he has a hard time with it, because he cannot bring work home. Plus I feel like I am always justifying why I have to work–for it seems as though I have never ending deadlines. But you’re right, picking and choosing where we spend our time is the only way to maintain our sanity. 🙂

  45. Charleston for Creative at Heart | marlayna photography

    November 19th, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    […] to me, that Natalie Franke brought up during our panel discussion (and has since blogged about: the Greatest Struggle of being an Entrepreneur ), was the idea that essentially every time you say “yes” to squeezing in just one […]

  46. Amelia

    November 25th, 2015 at 9:03 am

    So good!! xo

  47. Kathryn Ivy

    November 25th, 2015 at 9:07 am

    Love this post Natalie! Such an important reminder to slow down and say “no” every once in a while!

  48. Jenny Storment

    November 25th, 2015 at 9:14 am

    I’m struggling with that right now. It’s really hard to turn on your blinders and just focus on yourself and not what others are doing. Thank you so much for sharing your struggles and how you over came them.

  49. Jill Gum

    November 25th, 2015 at 9:29 am

    Loved this post the first time I read it, and got even more out of it today. It is an absolutely beautiful message…Thank you for your vulnerability and heart!

  50. Allison Ewing

    November 25th, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    I definitely needed to read this! So spot on. I’m thankful to have met you!!

  51. Laura Hernandez

    November 26th, 2015 at 9:05 am

    I’ve had many many cries into the keyboard myself. Constantly telling myself sleep can wait, my kids will understand, (after all, I’m doing this for them after all right?), my family can wait, life can wait. I was wrong and felt crushed of guilt for the times I hadn’t had the courage to say no. I love you friend! You such an amazing encourager and just love your openness. I’m here for you always! Hugs!

  52. I Choose to Be

    January 4th, 2016 at 7:52 am

    […] life. Too hard, actually. I found myself overwhelmed by the very thing I love most and shared my greatest struggle as an entrepreneur in November. Oh friends, sharing that post was downright scary, but so unbelievably worth […]

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