I’ll go out on a limb here and say that the list below isn’t unique. As a self-identified career therapist, I am fascinated by career change – the courage to make it, and courage to stick with it. I’ve had several “First 90 Days” in my life, and leaving the world of “working for someone else” for an entirely new way of living has been by far the best, most challenging, scary and exciting First 90 I’ve ever had.
So full, in fact, that this post is now the first four months. I’ve been meaning to write it for weeks now, but there’s business development, facilitation, visioning, content creation and more to tend to. Like I said, I’m not unique – fellow entrepreneurs know the drill.
As a disclaimer, I did not quit a full-time career to go out on my own. I quit to join a known and well-respected start-up, to function as the CEO. Perhaps that is unique. Perhaps my risk was lower than it would be to blow out of your job today and turn an idea into a thing – and by perhaps, I’d say it was DEFINITELY less risky than that. All the same, it’s a wild ride and may get you thinking about formats other than the obvious for your own transition to business ownership. My intention in sharing a few things about my experience is to create the space for you to say, “You too? Me too!” That’s the good stuff.
So, best as I can articulate, here are a few things I’ve learned in four months:
- People are really, really, really willing to help. Like, genuinely excited to support my courage and my not-knowing and show-up and reach out and tell me the truth. That I went into this season with a network of awesome individuals has been an incredible service to my sanity and the grace I need to have to still be new at this whole thing. Generosity is alive and well.
PUNCHLINE: activate your personal advisory board.
- I’m not brave by myself. Without the partner I joined, without the support of everyone in the first item here, without my own accountability group – I would not have launched a product, reached out to sell it, show-up for big meetings and big deliverables or assert myself in high-stress situations. The more people involved in my orbit, the more courageous (and accountable) I become.
PUNCHLINE: get honest with yourself and invite others in.
- How to ask for help. I’m an English major, a therapist, a wife and daughter, an integrator, and relationship-builder. I am not an accountant, a tax expert, a visionary (necessarily) or an Living without (someone else’s) structure is hard. When I worked nine-to-five, there were two buckets of time I was explicitly “in charge” of – before work, and after work. If I wanted to work out, socialize, get a manicure, run an errand, I had two options. I also got work done between two buckets. It felt binary, it felt black and white and for someone like me, that felt safe and predictable. I laugh about this all the time, when I think of myself as an animal who as been put in another habitat. Learning the new surroundings, and learning so much about myself as a leader.
PUNCHLINE: be humble and ALWAYS ASK for what you need.
- Being an entrepreneur can be lonely. Loneliness is one of those emotions that likes to put its arm around shame, and get all cozy – suffocating, if you will: “Shhh, Emily. Feeling lonely is not ok. Squeeze in closer to Auntie Shame.” I prefer introversion, generally. I’m an only child too. That I am comfortable being alone had me thinking that working from my home office most of the time would yield focus, energy and ultimately mind-blowing productivity. And sometimes it does. And sometimes it’s really lonely. I’ve learned that when I need to get creative, or tap into futuristic thinking, getting out into the world is required.
PUNCHLINE: get out, regularly, for your sanity and sense of humor.
- Being an entrepreneur can be lonely. Yes, I’m putting it in here twice because more than ever, in this new world of start-ups, innovation, entrepreneurship and taxes. . . I don’t know a lot. Sometimes I don’t know where to begin. I have an incredible business partner, and even with our heads put together we don’t know everything (*gasp*) and so, the “Surely I’m the only person who has ever struggled to understand what an LLC with an S-Corp election is versus a full S-Corp” will get a woman feeling lonely, fast. Getting involved with women-focused entrepreneurial conversations has and will be key. PUNCHLINE: find an intentional community.
I could keep going, the lessons are vast and detailed and wonderful – and I’m grateful to be awake for them, but here’s one more – maybe the most important:
I know more than I think I do. And you do too. And it’s not so much that I know, or you know, the best or right way – the most productive and powerful way – but I have within me what I need (mostly an increasing sense of confidence and courage) to get what I need.
Thanks to really smart people in my orbit, I’ve learned more in four months that I had in the previous two or three years. Here’s to continuing to write! We are eager to hear, and help you craft, your story too.