Some time ago I decided to turn my life up side down. I had been unhappy at work for way too long (sufficient to say that none of what was going on at work at that time was in line with my life values) and when motherhood kicked in, the need for a change became even more evident. The change was not simply about “oh, lets do the same but somewhere else” as I, as a woman, was evolving and all those usual things that had inspired me up to that point (ie, climb the corporate career ladder in prestigious companies) were all of a sudden not worth my sweat and even less my tears. Priorities were changing and so were my values. My idea of success was shifting. The change I needed was real.
I realised my corporate background didn’t have to be my life sentence. So I took the bold decision to pull the break and change direction. The time had come for a reinvention. The time had come to take risks, to change what I was doing and the way I was doing it. The time had come to stop cheating on my future with my past. My NEW VERSION OF ME was knocking at my door loudly. My NEW ME was waiting. And so, I built some courage and I jumped into the big void. Was I ready? Hell no! But, remaining stuck somewhere I didn’t belong wasn’t an option either so I had to give myself a new opportunity.
I would soon discover that when you connect your job with who you really are and what you really believe in, you start living a fulfilling life in every sense of the word.
Fast forward 3 years into entrepreneurship, I am reflecting about what would I do differently should I be given the opportunity to do it all over again. Here below there are the things I wish I had known / done before starting up my own business:
1- I wish I had done some work around seeking clarity on what my (perfect) next chapter looked like, whilst still enjoying of the benefits of a full time job. You don’t realise how important clarity is until you have it. Clarity lets you see what you want to do differently, what to change and how to change it. Without clarity, you will not evolve; you will not grow. I personally knew what I didn’t want any longer in my life (yes, that is a start!) but next chapters cant be written in a negative way. So I had to spend some time reframing that when I had already had jumped into the big void and I had the pressure of maintaining the lifestyle I had created for myself and my family.
2- I wish I had focused more on my mindset rather than on my technical skills. Intelligence and talent alone will not bring you success. The right mindset will! A strong resilience, self-confidence and vision will certainly help you getting where you want to get faster.
3- I wish I had taken greater care about my personal branding and hadn’t turn down opportunities that would have positioned me as the expert that I am in my field. Your name is your greatest asset and will stay with you for the rest of your life. Transforming it into a personal brand that others will recognize and appreciate is your best strategy for long-term success in business. But you know how it goes! A demanding corporate life doesnt leave much time for yourself and lets be honest, all those matters that refer to one self (albeit important) are put in the back burner day after day.
4- I wish I had nurtured my network better. The greatest advantage if you do is that you don’t need to worry too much about marketing initially. Your network is full of potential clients that already know how great you are and, most likely, they will be the ones giving you that first push.
The one thing I have been great at (and without any doubts the reason why I am where I am today) is to surround myself with business coaches / mentors who had successfully founded their own companies and were available to leverage their experiences as insights for me to build my own business. That was the best investment I had ever made because without their input, I wouldn’t have broken through.
If you think you can make it all by yourself, then you are bound to have a real rough ride! Entrepreneurship can feel very lonely and a business coach / mentor who has experienced the highs and lows of running a business and is ahead of you in his own journey can be a real great travelling companion.
3 years down the line, and despite all the bad days, I don’t regret taking a leap. Quite simply, I wasn’t ready to compromise for a career below my true potential and desire. I wasn’t willing to have my family running around the needs of someone else. And I was not accepting to live somebody else’s life. I would be the Captain of my own ship from now on and I would live my life in my own terms.
I dared to have it all. Do you?