I was reminded this morning that is was seven years ago this month – Actually April 1 – that I walked away from my corporate job and started life as an entrepreneur; it’s funny that I didn’t remember until I kept getting all these congratulation notices on LinkedIn. It seems like a life-time ago that I made such a momentous decision. It’s actually funny how it came to be, as I never had been brave enough to think about owning my own business; it also isn’t ‘programmed’ in me as I had parents who both worked about 45 years each. According to my mother, owning your own business was a ‘pipe dream.’
But prior to going out on my own, I managed a federal program; it was the clients I had in this program who planted the seed for me to go out on my own – funny how others can sometimes see things we can’t. I started to do some research and planning and realized that I could get paid for what I know and help others; I hired a coach to help me and I launched, never looking back. My business has fluctuated and changed over the years, but I have survived the recession and have adapted and thrived. So as I savor this month and reflect on some lessons learned – hopefully these will help you to make a move if you’re on-the-fence or are already in business:
- Starting and growing a business starts with an idea and a (big) dream; I learned to honor my big thinking and to focus on my ‘why’ of helping others to succeed
- Starting and growing a business takes planning – I didn’t just leave my job one day and open up my own; it took me months of researching my market, the types of offerings and writing a business plan. Planning is the key as it will feel almost effortless when you do decide to launch
- I have never niched myself – I think I’m too eclectic to box myself in; I have recognized that I do have a niche area but it is very broad. However, as a researcher and trender, I have my ‘finger on the pulse’ of all things career, organizational, the workplace, and human behavior which allows me to speak on a variety of topics and expands my offerings and reach to those areas.
- I have learned, after much frustration and delay, that I am a round peg who will never fit in the square; in the past, I’ve recognized that I was trying to fit in with others, or was told to, which only led me to feel out-of-sorts; I questioned myself which did not serve me or the clients I work with. Honoring the self – and standing out – is becoming more comfortable.
- Starting and growing a business takes confidence and boldness – putting yourself and your products or services can feel scary and is risky if no one buys; however, focusing on the ‘why,’ building relationships, and marketing those offerings actually enhances one’s esteem and confidence which leads to taking bolder and upwards steps. It feels good when you know that you’ve helped someone or you get recognition from others.
- I’ve learned to seek out opportunities, as well as take advantage of those placed in front of me. This has allowed me to be on TV, the radio, newspapers, blogs and a book; sure it can feel scary but you”ll never know if you don’t so – I always have to ask myself how I’ll feel if I don’t go after them. Opportunities can come in all forms but if you put it out there to the universe and be open to receiving, they will come if you keep you eyes and ears open. Seeking support from others also helps.
- I’ve learned that there will be good days and not so good days but every day is mine to make; I’ve learned not to put my eggs in one basket, as the saying goes, and create multiple streams of income; I’ve learned to laugh and enjoy my business and to look optimistically to the future. I know that the best is yet to come – but that my business -and myself- are a work in progress so I have also learned to appreciate and to honor the gifts I’ve been given which allow me to do what I do.