You may be familiar of my decision to pursue entrepreneurship despite being in a comfortable six figure paying career in a Fortune 100 institution.
I am obviously not the only one. Marlee is one such individual, who gave up a career as an in-house legal counsel in a company to pursue her true passion. The following is a guest post by her.
I used to sit in my corner office, of my uber-cush job, as in-house counsel for a bank and cry. I cried because every day that I sat in that office not pursuing my passion a little piece of me felt like it was dying.
I felt sad, but what was truly sad about it is that most people would have given up A LOT to have the opportunity that I was simply squandering. Don’t get me wrong. I did my job, and I did it well, but I was never going to reach my maximum potential in that place. I was never going to live my purpose or unlock my passion as an attorney. No matter how hard I tried to love being a lawyer, deep down inside I knew I never would.
This was a harsh reality for me. I had spent so much time, energy, and money obtaining an education and pursuing a profession that matched the picture of success I had created in mind, only to find myself feeling everything but successful.
My desire to pursue entrepreneurship didn’t jump out at me. I didn’t grow up knowing that I wanted to build businesses. I had to evolve before I understood that my calling was in entrepreneurship.
Maybe it’s because I’m a woman entrepreneur (and we can be sensitive like that ;)), or maybe it’s because it’s just hard. But deciding to pursue the dreams of your heart is no easy task. It’s emotional. It’s unnerving. And, it’s exhilarating.
I wouldn’t change my journey into entrepreneurship because the experience was so rich that it enabled me to help other people, and build a business based on that experience alone. But, if there were one area that I wish I had more clarity about during the process it would have been how to mentally embrace the transition from full-time employee to full-time entrepreneur.
Before you brush this article off as inapplicable to you because you’re happy with your job, career, or part-time passive income let me share an important truth about the marketplace today. If you want real job satisfaction, “job security,” and job advancement you must cultivate the entrepreneur within.
The advent of social media has changed the face of the marketplace forever. The power has shifted from the advertisers to the audience. Never before has an individual had so much power to effectuate change, spread a message, or build a worldwide community.
The ripples in the pond of social marketing and online entrepreneurship are far and wide. The Internet has practically incinerated all barriers to entry in the marketplace. Today, if you have a valuable product or service that you can provide online, you can start a business. And what’s even more astounding is that you can start a business based on your personal passion and succeed. With the right resources, any one (who really wants to) can become an entrepreneur.
But the reason this fact is so important is because if you truly want “job security,” professional freedom, a more flexible lifestyle, and better tax breaks you HAVE TO embrace entrepreneurship. Remember the catastrophic global financial crisis that spiraled out of control beginning in 2008? The one many people are still feeling.
Many people lost their jobs with companies they thought they were going to retire with only to find themselves completely unemployable and facing financial disaster. What if some of these people had been cultivating the entrepreneur within while maintaining their full-time jobs?
I’d venture to say they would have been better equipped to handle the challenges presented to them. I did, so I was. The truth is job security is merely a feel-good notion that is false. And this is one critical reason you must cultivate the entrepreneur within, whether or not you ever plan to have your own business.
The second reason you must cultivate the entrepreneur within is because even if you are happily employed, or have a successful professional career, your job can often smother that tiny spark of entrepreneurial passion inside.
You see, when you are committed to working a set number of hours for someone else, believe in the notion of “job security”, and live with the expectation of a regular paycheck you can actually UNKNOWLING suppress the entrepreneur within.
When we get comfortable in our 9-to-5 routine, our occasional bonuses, and our regular time off, the creative and innovative entrepreneur within shuts down because the Lizard brain kicks in. And, as with any knowledge, skill or talent you fail to use – you lose.
So, unless you’re already working in an area that you’re incredibly passionate about (which is rare), you have to cultivate your creative entrepreneurial abilities if you ever hope to develop financial independence. Otherwise, those entrepreneurial assets WILL slowly fade away.
So now that I’ve hammered you with the importance of embracing an entrepreneurial perspective in your professional life, it’s time to get practical. What follows are three essential steps to mentally preparing for the transition from employee to entrepreneur.
It’s no secret that more and more people are moving towards the idea of creating their own lifestyle through entrepreneurship. Books like The Four Hour Workweek, Escape from Cubicle Nation, and Crush It! are helping people create their own opportunities in droves.
But before you begin putting together the technical aspects of building your own business, you’ve got to establish the right mindset. Making the transition from employee to entrepreneur is not easy, and your ability to succeed starts in your mind.
When you get stuck in the 9-5 rut this is the first area to suffer, especially if you have a job that is very routine. Continued learning and personal growth is a necessity if you have an entrepreneurial itch.
You cannot build a business in hopes of generating a full-time or passive income unless you can bring a product or service to the marketplace that adds value to others AND brings you satisfaction.
Essentially, you need to identify what I call your “sweet spot.” Your sweet spot is a place where your knowledge, skills, and talents intersect with your passion and your purpose. Once you have a clear picture of your knowledge, skills and talents.
You will be better able to come up with ideas on how to make a profitable business from them. I spent many hours each week truly soul-searching, analyzing my strengths, and cultivating my spiritual side to better understand myself and what I have to offer.
Being an entrepreneur is completely different from being an employee. Not only are there many administrative tasks that you must handle, but you’ll need strong time management, stress management, and productivity skills to really get to the top of your entrepreneurial game.
Thankfully, the web is chock-full of fantastic information to help educate you in this area. You’re reading this blog so you’re definitely headed in the right direction.
The more you educate yourself about entrepreneurship, the more confident you become in the idea of being an entrepreneur. Make sure that you learn as much as you can about the different aspects of entrepreneurship, which include but are not limited to, an appropriate attitude/mindset, marketing, finance, sales, taxes, copyright, trademark, employee relations, and so on.
The list is long and the subject matters are broad, but become as familiar as you can with all of them so that you will know where you will need to get help and what you can do yourself. Keep your day job, but prepare yourself for entrepreneurial success. Before I became a full-time entrepreneur, I spent every waking hour that I wasn’t dedicated to my 9 to 5 to learning how to build my own business.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but it is taking action despite being afraid. If you’re going to pursue entrepreneurship on any level you need lots and lots of courage. You’re going to feel afraid. It’s perfectly natural and normal. And if you’re totally fearless, it may be a sign that you’ve missed something.
The cool thing about fear is that you can convert it into confidence, because every time you do something that you fear, you no longer fear it as much. Confidence is critical to your transition from being an employee to becoming an entrepreneur, because your measure of confidence will dictate your measure of success.
I was very afraid of walking away from what I had worked so hard to attain as an attorney, but I felt the fear – and I did it anyway – and I have ZERO regrets.
Here’s the thing about becoming an entrepreneur, it’s more than just building a business. It’s building your own lifestyle. It’s making your own rules. It’s having a license to infuse all of who you are, and what you have to offer, into what you do while sharing it with the rest of the world for mutual benefit. But don’t be misled by the success stories. Its hard work and it doesn’t happen overnight.
Although there’s a lot of freedom of choice associated with becoming an entrepreneur, becoming an entrepreneur will not grant you freedom automatically. You will spend many, many hours working on your business.
Your friends and relatives will not understand why you have this obsessive desire to build your own business. Sometimes you will even wonder why you traded your punch card for a never-ending to-do list. But that’s the beauty of knowing you want for your life.
I suppose I could have chosen to be happy in my career as a lawyer, but my mind wouldn’t let me. My work as an attorney stifled my creative ability, and hindered me from operating in my sweet spot. Ironically, I had to become an attorney to recognize that fact.
Every single experience I had that led up to my journey into entrepreneurship helped prepare me for the experience. The same will be true for you. In hindsight, I’m incredibly grateful for the education and experience.
Most of all, I’m glad that I listened to that little voice inside that said “there is more to this life than living like the cookie-cutter lawyer – your passion requires more of you.” I cultivated the entrepreneur within, and when the chance came to step into full-time entrepreneurship I took it.
So let me ask you, is there a little voice inside of you? Is your spark being smothered by your 9-to-5 commitment? What can you start doing today to facilitate what may one day be your own business?
You don’t have to make the leap all at once, you don’t have to make the leap at all, but you should be prepared to leap at any given moment. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Marlee helps women entrepreneurs in the making find their passion monetize it online at Metamorphoself. Want to learn more? Snatch a copy of How to Become A Young, Sassy, & Smart Female Entrepreneur – Online or hang out with her on Twitter.