I’ve never been one to hide the fact that I had my children young. Presented with the ultimatum to ‘grow up’ and mature in my early twenties or not have children at all was a decision I didn’t take lightly. I knew, though, that being a mom was something I had always dreamed of – and it was something I wasn’t prepared to have taken away from me if I could do something about it, so I did.
My two children, a son and daughter, have been the greatest adventure of my life. So when my daughter’s health concerns began to require more and more of my time, I knew I had to again make a decision. This time, I decided to move away from the corporate world into entrepreneurship, designing a life that allowed the kind of autonomy I needed to support her through all of the appointments, pre-ops, surgeries, post-ops – allowing me to be present for whatever she needs. For myself, and my career, I was empowered by the ability to follow my passion for empowering others for success. I soon realized that through entrepreneurship, and in developing my business in a way that made sense for me, I was able to make my ‘drop in the bucket’ that will have a ripple out effect with each person I touch.
Again, this was not something I entered into lightly. I knew that starting my own business would be a give and take. I would be getting the freedom and flexibility I needed in my life but at the cost of some stability – especially in the beginning. As anyone who has made the ‘leap’ into entrepreneurship can tell you, to leave behind the steady paycheque, the benefits, the little luxuries we don’t always recognize are a part of employment, is scary. But in breaking through my comfort zone and attacking this fear head-on, I was able to design a life I love. The following tips are ones I received from peers and mentors when starting out – or are things I wish I’d known then that I’ve come to depend on now, years later!
- Build a Support System: Having a group of people around you, no matter how large or small, will make all the difference on those days where you feel like throwing in the towel. This support can come in the form of a mentor or coach, your family, friends – a mixture of all three! I like to compare this to running a marathon, those on the sidelines, cheering, offering water and cookies, holding signs emblazoned with your name and messages of encouragement, they are such critical components in keeping the race going. And at the end of the day, that’s what entrepreneurship is like, a marathon, moments where you’ll feel success and pride, and others where you’ll question why you took this on to begin with. As someone who is extremely independent, accepting help and direction from a coach didn’t come naturally. But it was the best decision I made for my business and the progression of my career as an entrepreneur.
- Vision Board, Vision Board, Vision Board: This is one of the top tools I teach in my Achievement Accelerator, Coaching, and CEO Day programs. Why? Because it’s something I’ve done for myself, something I continue to do. It keeps me focused; it reminds me of where I’m going and how I’ve planned to get there. It’s both ambitious and realistic. Setting me up with smaller, attainable goals while still motivating me to ‘shoot for the stars.’ When making the change from employed to freelance, it can be challenging to understand exactly where you ‘fit.’ Your role is no longer clearly defined by a job posting or an employment contract. You are now the driving force in defining your role and using a vision board will help to give you a clear sense of what that looks like for you!
- Invest in Yourself Now: This is one of those tips that I wish I had known at the beginning. Before taking the leap. Before moving into a ‘new normal.’ I talk to my clients a lot about the power and importance of investing in themselves as much as in their business. There are certain things that are required when starting out, like marketing, product/service planning, emails, websites, etc. etc. etc. We account for these things, plan for them to the best of our ability – I did! The one thing we don’t always stop to consider, though, when planning and budgeting is the investment we should be – and need to – make in ourselves. The early stages of freelancing and entrepreneurship can bring some trepidation. People are usually a little more guarded with their wallets, afraid or unsure of where their next stream of income will be coming from. The truth is, though, by investing in coaching or professional development workshops, you are actually setting yourself and your business up for much greater success. Don’t wait until you’re settled into your new business to start investing in you, do that now, prioritize the learning and direction that can be gained. It makes all the difference.
In the end, the greatest takeaway I’ve had in making the transition into entrepreneurship is to do it your way. There is no real ‘rule book,’ like motherhood, there isn’t one set way to do this. You just have to believe in yourself, remind yourself of your ‘why,’ and keeping pushing through the challenges. The benefit of living the life you have designed, one that you love and are proud of – it’s worth the climb!