When I started writing for Rocket City Mom four years ago, I had no idea I would be planting the seed for a business of my own. I was just thrilled to have the opportunity to share my voice and my unique take on motherhood, and RCM provided me with the creative outlet I was looking for.
The fact is, I’ve always been a writer, and although it wasn’t my chosen profession, writing permeated everything I’d ever done. Listen, you don’t get a degree in Philosophy or go to grad school (twice) because you shy away from the written word. And in my professional life, writing, whether it was a press release, volunteer newsletter, diversity report, or Facebook post was always the part of my job I enjoyed the most. It only made sense, that one day, my secret lover would demand to be my #1 boo.
So, about a year ago, I decided to try my hand at a little freelance writing on the side, just to see if I could actually make some money… and I did. Then came the process of researching exactly how to make this work full-time. By the end of 2015, I knew I’d have to make the scariest leap of my life… and quit my job. And about two and half months ago, that’s exactly what I did.
So, I thought I’d share a few of the lessons I’ve learned on my journey so far, in the form of some humble advice.
Know Thyself, and Thy Situation
Before starting any new venture, you should be really clear on why you want to do it because you’ll need the motivation when the going gets tough. My “why” really centered around my daughter: I wanted more flexibility and control over both my time and my income potential for her sake. Plus, I really wanted her to see me pursue something I’d always dreamed about.
As a single parent, financially, I knew it would be risky, but I also knew I had the support of my parents, should things get really dicey. That said, I timed my departure with a few bills that I knew would be paid off and made some initial investments in my business while I was still working at my previous job. And I also gave myself a deadline for finding a part-time gig to make ends meet in the interim and had some very frank conversations with my daughter about what we would and would not be spending money on.
So, I’m not referring here to literally owning your business, but taking ownership of your decision to start your business, new career, etc. You need to own whatever it is you want to do, call yourself by your “new” name, and start before you’ve even made your official transition.
Full disclosure: I often feel like a phony referring to myself as a freelance writer, in part because I’m afraid of failing, but also because that’s not how most of the people in my professional circles see me. The only way to change that, though, is to own it for yourself first. The more you say it and reinforce it by promoting yourself, the more comfortable you’ll become. Hey, you know what they say… “Fake it ’til you make it!”
Change Your Mind
One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced during this transition is changing my day-to-day mindset about running my business. When it was just a side hustle, I typically worked early in the morning or late at night during the week and on the weekends. After taking a month off after leaving my day job, I thought I was ready jump right into my business. I was not.
Sure, I’d laid all the groundwork, set up my home office, secured some regular clients, and oh yeah, spent an entire year obsessing about it, but I still needed to get my mind right. I was so used to thinking of my business as a side-hustle, I wasn’t 100% committed.
Working for yourself means you’re the boss, and that means you set the goals, the deadlines, and the work schedule. But you have to actually show up for work, i.e., for show up for yourself.
For me, that means, setting monthly goals, categorizing and scheduling time for them each week, And since I’m a one-woman shop and don’t report to anyone, I recruited one of my besties to be my accountability partner. I have to check in with her each week to let her know what I did (or didn’t do.)
Call For Backup
Starting your own business can certainly be daunting, so it’s important to establish a network you can rely on for professional help and emotional support. My little tribe includes an accountability partner (see above), fellow writers and entrepreneurs, online freelance groups, and a personal cheerleading squad comprised of a few close friends and family members.
Here’s the secret, though… Your network means nothing if you don’t reach out and take advantage of what they have to offer. I’ll admit this is a constant struggle for me because I often try to figure out things all on my own, but there’s just no reason for that.
Time will tell if this little freelance business of mine will last a season or a lifetime, but I must say I’m quite proud of myself for taking the leap, and the lessons I’ve learned so far will likely stay with me forever. I’m just getting started.
Got a business brewing in your head? Tell me about it and then join RCM at The Mompreneur Event on Thursday, September 8th to learn how to make your dream a reality.
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