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Surviving the first year of entrepreneurship (+ a playbook for moving forward)

It’s been a year since I quit my steady corporate role and ventured boldly into entrepreneurship. I remember the day I’d publicly declared to my coaching cohort that I was going to quit my job the following day. Everyone said how brave I was. I’m certain people were also thinking “WTF are you doing?!” A […]

It’s been a year since I quit my steady corporate role and ventured boldly into entrepreneurship. I remember the day I’d publicly declared to my coaching cohort that I was going to quit my job the following day. Everyone said how brave I was. I’m certain people were also thinking “WTF are you doing?!” A single parent, living in the San Francisco Bay Area with limited financial reserve, embarking on such a quest. Brave or foolish, I couldn’t bear another year feeling burned out and stuck in a role that no longer fulfilled me. I knew I had to break free, take a leap of faith and figure it out along the way.  And so, I did!

And it’s been amazing.  And it’s been really, really hard.

Who knew back then that a year later, we’d all be plunged into a global pandemic? Thousands of lives lost. Thousands of people losing their jobs. Businesses restructuring. All while social distancing, home-schooling and juggling all the other at home demands. I certainly didn’t see this coming.  

During this time, I’ve experienced many moments of sheer panic. Several “oh f***, what have I done?!” moments and times I wake in the middle of the night anxiously thinking about the future. As the below image depicts, clearly in the fear zone (although I really was late on the stockpiling of toilet paper and cleaning supplies!), but still, as I reflect on where I am now — limited savings and an uncertain business outlook ahead — I would have still made the same decision a year ago. I have no regrets.

Credit: Unknown. Found via LinkedIn

The Good

Setting up my own coaching and consulting business aligned so well with my life purpose, strengths and values. It really was made for me.

I have so much freedom and flexibility. I’ve been able to design my work week to fit in with my life and my schedule. I get to choose when I want to work. If I want to carve out time during the day to be with my family, I can. If I want to take Friday’s off, I can. This is work on my terms.

I’ve been able to choose the type of work I want to do. The type of work that allows me to play to my strengths. I get to choose the projects I want to take on and the type of clients I want to work with.

I have also learned so much! From completing my coaching certification, to setting up a business. Designing websites, marketing, branding, writing, networking. There’s so much to do but it doesn’t feel like work to me. I get so much fulfilment because I’ve been able to create a role that so perfectly blends with my life and truly honors the things that are important to me.

And the best part of all is that I get to help others and make a difference. I feel so much gratitude that I get to do this work.

The Bad

And then there’s the bad. It’s really hard sometimes.

Sometimes, I feel so overwhelmed, I just want to cry. I tell myself that it’s ok to feel like this because it’s a scary and unsettling time. Everything feels so uncertain. I’ve made a conscious effort to limit the amount of media I consume right now, and I’ve let go of the things I cannot control (learning zone).

For me, in this moment, my feet are planted in the growth zone. I’m looking at ways I can shift my business, exploring ways I can help others and continue to make a difference, and I’m designing for the longer-term. Each day, I’m taking small steps to continue to diversify.   

The Control Zone

While there is so much outside of our control right now, there are many things within our control. We get to choose our mindset each and every day, and we also have some control over how we shift and adapt during these times. I know it’s not easy. There is a lot of uncertainty and a lot of figuring stuff out. What I do know is that we’ve all been through challenging and uncertain times before this and have come out the other side.  You’ve got this!

I wanted to share my playbook of strategies that have been helpful to me as I’ve been exploring my own shift. I hope they serve as a helpful resource for you as you’re considering and planning your next steps;   

  1. Do one thing every day just for you. Be it journaling, meditation, yoga, a walk outside. Take care of you. Seriously, this is the most important step.
  2. Determine your top 3-5 values. What are the things that are really important to you? Always keep these in mind when you’re making decisions and figuring out your next steps.
  3. What is your longer-term plan? In 10 years? 20 years? How do you want to make a difference? What impact do you want to make?
  4. What are your unique strengths, talents and gifts? How could you use these to shift or pivot into a new direction?
  5. What resources can you leverage to help support your transition? There is so much online content available with many learning platforms offering free and low-cost content. What courses could you take that can help you diversify?
  6. Who do you know that could help you? Who are the people who are already in your corner? That are already privy to your strengths and talents? Reach out to them. You never know what opportunities may open up now or in the future.
  7. Who could you help right now? Reach out to them and find out how you can help them.
  8. Determine your financial roadmap. I’m a little more comfortable with risk knowing that I could go back and get a full-time corporate job if I really had to. What is your level of risk? What expenses could you cull right now? How much leverage do you have in terms of savings? What might be available to you in terms of government emergency funding?
  9. Take action. Do one thing today, and every day to move forward.
  10. Practice gratitude. At the end of each day, find at least one thing to be grateful for.

Whatever your next step is and however you look to shift and adapt, you’ve got this. Keep moving forward and have no regrets.

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For tools and resources to support your shift, sign up to my newsletter here: https://www.emmasimpsoncoaching.com/

For coaching or consulting inquiries, contact me via LinkedIn or at [email protected]

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