5 Things I Wish I Had Known Before Leaving My Corporate Job to Start My Own Business
I officially started my business over a year ago, but jumped into it full-time four months ago. If you are considering taking the leap into self-employment, there are many books and articles that give tactical advice regarding starting your business which touch on financial preparation, creating a business plan, tenacity and a range of other topics. Looking back, I researched and read a lot of material for years before I made the leap. However, here are some things I have already learned through my transition from being an employee to becoming an entrepreneur that I don’t recall having awareness of prior to my leap.
1) You may experience an identity crisis.
I did not realize how much my self-worth and my identity were tied to my corporate job. I was not prepared for how much I would miss the camaraderie of being in an office setting. I did not anticipate how challenging it would be to move from an environment I had “figured out” to one where there are many times that I don’t know what the next step is.
In my corporate job, I knew what to do and who to call. It took me a few months to begin to adjust to working alone in my home office most of the time and adjust to my new identity as a business owner. While I had always been a leader in my corporate career, things were now solely dependent upon me, which requires discipline, diligence and perseverance, but also gave me the freedom I desired.
To address this, I meet up with friends, former colleagues and other small business owners for lunch or coffee at least once a week. Also, I have joined several masterminds of other like-minded coaches and entrepreneurs where we can brainstorm ideas and provide support for one another. I have hired coaches, mentors and subject matter experts to help when needed. Creating a support network is incredibly important especially as you are starting your business.
2) You may feel vulnerable and exposed in a way that you haven’t before. When I began to tell my friends and family I was considering leaving my job to start my own business, I was selective regarding who I shared this information with because I had a fear around what others would think. So, I had some awareness that I would feel some vulnerability, but what I was not prepared for was how strong these feelings would be at times. As a coach or consultant, I am the brand for my business. I am “selling” myself in a way that hadn’t done in my corporate role. Putting yourself out there and telling your story can make you feel scared, vulnerable and exposed. I’ve found the more I’ve shared my story and reached out to others for help, I have felt tremendous support. My family and friends want me to exceed. People are inspired by the way that I am pursuing my dreams and have authentically shared my experiences. I find that as I share more and more, I become more comfortable doing so. Sharing in this way begins to feel liberating and exhilarating.
3) Mindset may be the biggest factor in determining your success.
Dealing with self-doubt, lack of self-trust and questioning whether I’ve made the right decisions is a constant struggle I deal with on a daily basis. Because our ego minds are designed to protect us, they will create fear to prevent us from making a change from the status quo. I have learned that I need to spend some time each day working on maintaining a positive mindset in order to prevent my ego from taking over. I state intentions at the start of each day and review the things I am grateful for. I also read or listen to other inspirational material to keep a positive mindset. Allowing the negative thoughts, fears and limiting beliefs to overtake your mind will sabotage your business. I firmly believe that this is the biggest reason businesses “fail” because business owners bail prematurely when things begin to feel hard.
4) Regardless of your financial situation, it may bother you to not be generating an income in the beginning. I was the primary breadwinner in my family and always took pride in being able to contribute to my family in that way. Even though we planned meticulously and are able to live on our income without my corporate salary, at times I still feel as though I was not pulling my weight financially. There are many days I question whether I should go back to corporate for the steady income that it provides, but I remind myself that this is a temporary situation. I believe that being self-employed offers more upside than working in corporate in many ways. However, it does take time to build a business. It has been helpful to focus on all of the other benefits to being self-employed that I am already experiencing: creating my own schedule, doing meaningful work with the people I decide I want to work with, being able to spend more time with my family and no longer feeling overwhelmed by stress and exhaustion, just to name a few things. I trust the money is on its way.
5) People may ask you how your business is doing…a lot. I knew that my family and friends would be curious about how things are going with my new business. What I was not prepared for was how many inquiries I would get about it. I even got to the point of answering the question, “How are you?,” by giving an update on my business because I began to believe that that’s what everyone was truly asking me. I had to remind myself that just because I think about my business all of the time, not everyone else is. Family and friends will be generally supportive and want to check in to see how things are going. Many of them are excited for you and want you to succeed! At first, when people asked me this question, I would immediately focus on the financial success perspective, until a friend of mine who is also self-employed suggested that when people ask that question, it would be amazing if we focused on the experience, freedom and other benefits that self-employment provides rather than only on the profit and loss. So that’s what I started to do. That shift in perspective has made this question a pleasure to answer rather than dreading being asked.
I share these with you to help yourself prepare for this interim period of transition from an employee to entrepreneur. The theme throughout is everything I’ve mentioned here is based on your feelings, values and beliefs, which you have complete control over. Understanding that and taking steps like those I outlined will help you to not only survive, but thrive during this period.
Taking the leap into self-employment is an exciting time and should be celebrated! You are chasing your dreams which not everyone has the courage to do. There will be bumps, but as long as you work on your mindset and take aligned action every day, I believe you can be successful!
If you'd like to talk with Melissa Haak about the fears, excitement, and journey of becoming an entrepreneur, book a session.
If you want to connect with a group of individuals taking the same journey to entrepreneurship, check out our Catalyst Coaching Collective.