I was the girl that said I'd never leave corporate America. Entrepreneurship wasn't for me, y'all can have that, I'd say. I like my benefits, my cushy office and fancy title.
Then I had an Issa moment. The moment began with a feeling that I ignored for a few years. Well, I didn't exactly ignore it, I started job hopping. I wasn't being fulfilled and blamed it on whatever role I was in at the time. Five jobs (I was a contractor so save your judgement) later, I realized that it wasn't the roles, it was me. I had come to a place where I wanted more. Not more money or more responsibility but to do work that aligned with my passion and purpose...whatever that meant. And just like that, I walked smooth out of corporate America.
Taking a step outside of my comfort zone and jumping into the world of entrepreneurship, here are a couple of lessons learned so far….
Don't discount yourself because you are new to entrepreneurship or entering a new industry. You aren't 'new' to the transferable skills that you bring to the table. If you have worked in project management for 5 years, you don't need to do projects for free to "gain experience". You have the expertise, you can consult and take on PM projects for clients. This is not to discourage you from taking projects for free to gain additional experience, gain exposure to potential clients or to build an important relationship. Articulate your experience confidently, share how you can solve problems for potential clients and compile a list of key accomplishments, testimonials and references. Bottom Line: Know and communicate your worth.
When the cat's away...
…the mice will play! Early in my career, when my supervisor was out of the office…#StraightChillMode. As an entrepreneur, you are the cat AND the mouse. It's easy to procrastinate, get distracted or sit in one spot on Instagram for two hours doing "research" when you are managing yourself. With that new freedom comes new responsibility. Your reputation is at risk each time you fail to deliver a quality product or service on time. As the sole representation of your personal brand, you don’t always have the luxury of having set office hours. If you aren’t naturally disciplined, you need to put a plan in place to help you stay organized. I tend to procrastinate (a lot) and stress myself out trying to throw things together last minute. Here’s what I do:
Divide my work into sprints (google agile product development). A sprint is a set period of time in which specific work must be completed. For example, when writing a post, I’ll say “I’ll complete (write, edit and review) a paragraph in a half hour.” After each sprint, I’ll take a break to refocus or switch to another task to keep my day interesting.
Find accountability partners. Personally, I’ll waste my own time but never miss a deadline when I am accountable to someone else. For that reason, I’ll ask a friend or colleague to edit or review a piece that I’m writing by a certain date. Knowing that I am accountable to someone who has taken time out to review my work, I finish my work on time…sometimes even ahead of schedule.
Everyday I’m learning, growing and experiencing new things in my journey as a freelance writer. I wish I had the cheat code to running a successful business, building a powerful brand and securing what will become generational wealth. In the meantime….I’ll continue to develop Cliff’s Notes that hopefully will help us all.
What have you learned as an entrepreneur?