“Things are taking a lot longer than I thought they would.”
“I was planning on quitting by the end of the year… Yeah, that didn’t happen.”
“When is the right time to jump?”
As an adviser to employees who are starting their own businesses, e-mails like these are a constant refrain throughout my week. Usually quite a bit of time has passed between my receiving this kind of e-mail and the writer’s decision to quit employment to go entrepreneurial. As a result, I can feel the disappointment. The writer feels let down by her goals and ambitions and, after a number of false starts, she begins to think that her “crazy” idea of working for herself is all smoke and mirrors.
And yet there’s still a seedling inside that causes her to want something more. Freedom. Flexibility. The right to choose how to spend her day without asking an employer for permission. And so together, we nurture that seed; we tend to it as if her life depended on it. And slowly, slowly, her exit strategy begins to take shape.
Just in case you too dream of taking the leap from employment to entrepreneurship, I want to share something with you so that it will all seem manageable: three simple things that you can do today to get started on your journey:
1. Do what you can. Going from immediately working a day job to running your own empire in one fell swoop is scary and unrealistic. And yet that’s how many approach their transition from employment to entrepreneurship; wanting to go from zero to 100 and feeling let down when things don’t get off of the ground fast enough. I advise a different approach. Instead of mentally psyching yourself out before even getting started, break your goal down into smaller and smaller action steps. If you keep at it, eventually you’ll find something that you can do that doesn’t feel so scary. When you find it, do it. In his book, Time Warrior, Steve Chandler writes: “The mind makes all future tasks big and scary. So we procrastinate . . . Action is the answer. but not always big action. Try three minutes.” What can you do in the next three minutes that gets you started on your journey towards working for yourself?
2. Find evidence of it being done before. There are a number of individuals who have successfully taken the leap from employment to entrepreneurship. Find them and read about how they did it. Use their stories for inspiration, not just information. What resonates with you and compels you to take action? If you need examples, I can name a couple of individuals who have inspired me: Jodi McMurray of The Humanity Collective (an organization that provides support and resources to individuals who want to positively impact the world) and Lindsay Avner of Bright Pink (a non-profit that focuses on the prevention and early detection of breast cancer). Both of these business owners started out in the corporate world and carved a path towards their passions. Now they get to wake up and do what they love every day. Pop their names in Google and see how they did it. If they could, you can do it too.
3. Deeply connect with your “why.”Once you commit to taking the leap, you will be challenged. But would you rather be challenged on a path where your life is just “so so,” or would you rather be on a path where your wildest dreams are waiting on the other side of the obstacles? Do you know what your wildest dreams are? Take some time to dig deep and discover what you truly want. What would an amazing day be like if you didn’t have to report to work tomorrow? How would you spend your time and, most importantly, how would it feel? Deeply connecting with your “why” will not only help you get started, but will also keep you going when the challenges come.
Stay committed to the above action steps and you’ll be surprised by how rapidly you make progress towards your goals. Take the next three minutes and get started. You’ll be so happy you did.