Last week I contributed to Dr Shannon Reece’s Weekly Question “What was the catalyst in your life that drove you onto the entrepreneurial path, and what keeps you on it?” Over 100 entrepreneurs shared their stories.
I loved my corporate career
I worked for good companies, starting my career in Human Resources before later becoming a Management Consultant. I’ve worked in about 40 organizations across a range of industry sectors. I had challenging and stretching development opportunities and promotions.
On the whole, I had really good bosses. In fact they were so good, I’m still personal friends with some despite not having worked for them for over 20 years!
I got to travel the world, experience life as an expat in Singapore, New York and London and I met amazing people from all around the world (long before social networking made it easy!). I even met my husband through my career! And of course, I earned a lot of money doing it.
So what was the catalyst that drove me onto the entrepreneurial path, despite such a great career?
Well, despite all of the upside, there was also a lot of downside. Many weekends on a plane, foregoing social events, missing my family, living an unhealthy lifestyle and feeling like a puppet – not in control of my own life. Work was my life.
After the birth of my son, I returned to corporate life in a part-time role thinking that would be the best of both worlds. It wasn’t. I know a lot of women manage it and I take my hat off to them.
I was torn between wanting to do a great job and wanting to be a great mother and have a life. I was miserable. I felt like I was failing at everything.
I had to work out how to put myself back in control.
I wanted to build a lifestyle that gave me the flexibility to spend time with my son when he was a toddler and as he progressed through the school years. I also wanted to do something intellectually challenging that allowed me to earn an income doing something that I love.
I’ve been running my own business now for nearly four years
But it hasn’t all been a straight path from Point A to Point B. In fact, far from it! I’ve meandered. I’ve headed down paths only to come to a dead end. I’ve hit the proverbial fork in the road and had to make a decision about which path to take. I’ve loved it and loathed it – often in the same hour!
Have I ever thought about giving it all up and going to get a J.O.B.? Sure! But the thought of having to go back to corporate world where I’d have to commute to an office, deal with office politics, be physically present between 8am and 6pm and work my butt off for a salary, just makes my stomach churn. Even just writing about it now, I can feel my anxiety level rising.
So, what is it about running a business that’s so appealing?
I recently asked on Twitter “what do you most like about running your own business?”
Here’s a summary of some of the responses that came back:
- For me, it’s the unique ability to create my own context
- Flexibility, control, freedom, ability to to listen to feedback & translate to action wherever possible
- Being able to create MY stuff MY way in a way that works for ME
- It serves my dream life
- (There’s) no real limit as to how successful I’ll be
- Freedom to be
- Being free to pursue my own goals & desired outcomes & not those of others. Being the chess player & not the piece is 4 me.
- My business works for me to provide the cash-flow AND the time-flow to enjoy life at its best. *It* is there to serve *me*.
Thanks Tweeps for your contribution
Sound appealing? To me it does.
But is entrepreneurship all it’s cracked up to be?
I can only answer that question from my own personal perspective and the answer for me is “yes, but…”
- You need to be realistic about your earning potential.
Chances are, you will take a drop in income when you first start out. Sure, there are lots of success stories out there where people managed to make more than they did in a corporate job but for most people it takes time to build a business and replace or exceed the income. Work out what financial reserves you have and how you’ll manage the cash flow.
- It’s important that you love your business idea because you will live it 24/7.
You will be reading, networking, learning, creating and immersed in your business. It’s hard to switch off. You need to create work/life balance and this can be even harder when you work for yourself, particularly if you’re a driven, motivated, high-achiever.
- Self-discipline is critical.
It’s easy to spend time doing things that have nothing to do with building your business. You can sleep in late. You can go for a run mid-morning. You can meet friends for lunch. You can get the washing, shopping, cleaning done. You can spend hours on Twitter, Google, YouTube and Facebook. Before you know it, the day, week, month is gone but your business is flailing. Having a structure to your day/week and systems in place helps.
- It can be an emotional rollercoaster.
Every business owner I’ve ever spoken to says that they experience emotional highs and lows, often in the same hour! You need to develop resilience and find coping mechanisms help you through. Don’t rely solely on friends or a partner and don’t try to deal with it alone. Get a good support network in place.
- It’s not for everyone.
If you want someone to tell you what to do, when to do it and how to do it, then stick with a job. If you can’t afford to or don’t want to take financial risks, then stick with a job where someone pays you a salary. If you’ve found a job that you’re excited about, that fits with your lifestyle, that is fulfilling, that ticks all your boxes, then hang on to it – you’re one of the lucky ones.
I’d love to hear your views about whether you think being an entrepreneur is all it’s cracked up to be or whether it’s all a bit over-rated.
If you’ve got a question for me about running a business, please ask it. I’m happy to share all that I know.
P.S. If you are ready to make the leap from corporate job holder to entrepreneur, then join my free webinar, where I’ll share the five keys to starting your own business, avoiding common start-up mistakes.