Many of my clients decide they want to leave corporate life.
They dream of driving their careers on their own terms.
They want to dictate their own schedules.
Choose their clients and collaborators.
But they fear making this move for a few main reasons…
The constant selling, of sounding fake or putting yourself out there. All. The. Time. And the possibility that you may be bad at it. Talk about a one-two punch.
Losing the camaraderie and energizing social interaction that’s baked into a corporate gig where you’re all focused on a common goal.
It’s all on you: the scheduling, the invoicing, the customer service, the marketing, the IT support—on top of the doing the actual thing you left your corporate job to do.
If you’ve already drawn definitive conclusions that these variables are not something you can figure out, you absolutely should stick with your corporate gig or find another one that’s better suited to you. There’s no reason to make a move to the solopreneur/freelance world only to continue to prove yourself wrong. Some self-awareness and self-acceptance goes a long way in making this choice.
On the other hand, if this is something you feel you’re meant to do—you’ve done the math as to how to make it possible and you’re open to being uncomfortable and making mistakes in the name of progress—I got you.
Here are a few ways to address each of these fears head on so you can create the career and the business that’s calling you:
When you’re selling something you believe with all your heart, something you’re proud to offer—I can tell you firsthand—it doesn’t feel like selling. That said, I recommend that anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable about their sales and marketing skills get some support. Choose a few books you will commit to reading from this list of 50 incredible books. Read anything Seth Godin including his blog. Know that sales need not be a skill you’re born with, but rather a muscle you can build. You’ll learn that when you pour over Carol Dweck’s Mindset. If you can be kind to yourself, acknowledge where you need to grow and make friends with the experts—this is all possible for you.
This was a tough one for me as it is for many of my extroverted clients. If you get energy from connecting and collaborating with others, you must build this into your days to stay afloat. I do this by working at co-working spaces via companies like Croissant, Spacious or Deskpass. Also, I work with affiliates—larger coaching organizations where I can find communities of other coaches to refer, to collaborate with on projects or to go out for happy hours. If you work from home, make sure you leave at least once to go for a walk or grab lunch with a friend. Instead of getting in that extra hour of emails, prioritize an energizing gathering that will leave you more productive for the rest of your day.
Here’s the good news: there’s never been a better time to start a business. Even if you’re a company of one employee, you don’t need to do everything yourself! There are apps and tools to get you up and running quickly for scheduling, accounting, email marketing—whatever you need. You can see my favorites here. Also, there are other entrepreneurs whose expertise matches squarely with the things you DO NOT want to do. Whether it’s technical support, social media marketing, copyediting or design—there are people who can help you by either bartering services or providing affordable packages for solopreneurs like you. You can find them on Upwork, Fiverr and by asking other entrepreneurs who already get the importance of delegation. This must all feel quite meta to my copyeditor of 2.5 years (thank you!).
The truth is, while starting my own business was the best decision I ever made and the right choice for me, it absolutely can be tough. That’s why the answer I come back to over and over again as challenges arise is my mission, my reason for doing the work that I do. Above all of the logistical solves I offer here to address the "how" of running a business; the "why" is what pulls my clients and me through the plateaus and through the depths. The possibility of gender equity and gender parity is my fuel. This isn’t just about me, it’s about the increasing number of lives I can impact if I keep going, so I always find a way to do so.