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The hard-won lessons on jumping to become an entrepreneur

Successfully making the jump from employee to entrepreneur is not easy. You need to embrace the fear, make a plan, and validate your idea.

It took more than trust to land safely on the other side.

Successfully making the jump from employee to entrepreneur is not easy. You need to embrace the fear, make a plan, and validate your idea. Most importantly, letting go of any mindsets that would get in the way. These entrepreneurs shared the hard-won lessons to land safely on the other side.

The little voice that keeps telling you to do the business or passion project

Often people hear about the “little voice inside” that all of us have. That voice, often, is never wrong. After several years of working for someone else’s company, Jiri Duzar from Bohemian Coffee House - a family owned coffee company based in the Czech Republic - says that by being solely responsible for the product he makes, design, and market, he is better off working for himself. Additionally, the ‘voice’ is a reminder of how unpredictable and short life is. “It reminds me not to judge how things unfold or expect a certain outcome,” explains Devon Loftus, the founder of Moon Cycle Bakery, a baked goods delivery service that encouraged women to celebrate and nourish the magic that lives within their menstrual cycle.

The jump to launch your business

Most entrepreneurs say that a great company and a high salary are not enough to tame the ‘voice.’ “Working at Google was amazing. But, I knew I needed to build my venture once I reached a point where I didn't challenge myself anymore. So, I made the jump and left one of the best places to work in the world to start a company tackling issues I deeply care about,” explains Anne-Laure of Ness Labs, a venture studio with a focus on creativity and culture.
They also feel that it will provide more challenge and growth. “I couldn't stop thinking about it, and my gut told me that there was so much joy, fun, and growth on the other side. I couldn't let that slip through my fingers,” says Devon Loftus. Moreover, Jessica Graves, the founder of Sefleuria which she uses algorithms to help fashion and luxury companies grow sustainably writes, “I wondered what it would look like to define the future of luxury and share my tech expertise with multiple companies at once. I did not feel I could do that if I represented one brand, one platform, or one software, and began to build an independent consultancy.”

“I couldn't stop thinking about it, and my gut told me that there was so much joy, fun, and growth on the other side."

Devon Loftus

The jump planning

First, many entrepreneurs reviewed their finances and decided to move back home to start building enough savings once diving into their business full-time. “I mentally and emotionally jumped as soon as I decided to follow my gut and launch Moon Cycle Bakery. I quit my job, moved home and found a part-time job. I was lucky to have a soft place to land and parents who helped support my dream emotionally and financially,” says Devon Loftus.

Second, they try to understand the market better. “The most important thing for me seemed to be understanding, how does the fashion industry think about data right now. I engaged on social media and in a private Slack group by Lean Luxe. I started contextualizing my knowledge for panels at innovation festivals and guest lectures all around the world. Most importantly, I asked many questions, from heads of digital at major luxury conglomerates to underground menswear labels. Moreover, we started co-creating proposals to work together immediately. Early on, I took a business course mixed with one-on-one coaching, which was a real game changer. I did not have to plan around leaving a job per se - proposals out before I had a lawyer, public speaking before I was selling anything, and connecting with people over curiosity for their needs - everything happened organically,” says Jessica Graves.

Fully committing to the jump, even though it is terrifying

It took more than trust to commit and land safely on the other side. Taking baby steps and validating some aspects of your idea and eliminating uncertainty can make the departure from your day job less scary, explains the founder of  License to Drift - a travel startup that helps consumers plan trips to events and experiences that match their interests - Alexandria Carroll.

"Your beliefs about yourself, the words you use internally and externally need to be aligned”

Jessica Graves

“We didn’t know much about coffee sourcing, roasting or retailing. That part was terrifying. But we knew what kind of brand and values we want to build it. That fueled our passion for learning about things we didn’t know and made the initial jump easier. Also, even though one part of our business is online, the rest is geographically deeply connected with our birth region. And we want to make a positive change in that region,” explains Jiri Duzar of Bohemian Coffee House.

Moreover, these founders understand that by being fully committed to the business it means that they are cutting off all other possibilities. “Early on, a lot of people might say, ‘You could always come work for me.’ As amazing as they are, instead, think of what would happen if you are going off on your own. Your beliefs about yourself, the words you use internally and externally need to be aligned,” says Jessica Graves.

Unplugging and recharging your mental health

These entrepreneurs found that the most effective method to recharge is by setting aside several hours per day for personal time. Jessica Graves use Headspace app to meditate, Jiri Duzar goes on a 50 miles bike ride and regularly go on holidays, and Alexandria Carroll finds cooking to be therapeutic.

Setting your phone to a Do Not Disturb mode helps too. “My phone automatically goes on Do Not Disturb mode from 8 p.m. to 10 a.m., which allows me to focus on winding down and waking up without notifications and interruptions,” explains Devon Loftus.

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