I have a friend who’s creating a business.
Actually, I have lots of friends who are creating businesses. And this is a story that reflects many of their journeys. One person inspired this particular story, but her story is the story of many people I know.
She got an idea she was passionate about. She collected great advice. She worked out a plan. She dreamed big. She found her courage. She leapt.
You know that expression “leap and the net will appear?” The net didn’t appear. In fact, it looked like it was the floor that was going to appear. Quickly.
She thought fast, she adjusted course, and she reconfigured the plan with a new component: continuing to work some hours at her day job.
”I guess I’m just not a badass”
I sensed that my friend was second-guessing herself. Maybe even feeling like a bit of a wimp.
And I realized that I had played a part in her perceptions. Not just me, but all the folks who do what I do. The cheerleaders for self employment. The champions of solopreneurship. The ones who work hard to give you tools to make the leap on your own.
She was comparing herself to our “fearlessness,” our battle cries.
Sometimes we forget to acknowledge something.
Some days, it’s hard
The whole reason we have battle cries is because sometimes it’s hard. You notice there’s no such thing as a battle cry for enjoying an ice cream sundae.
When you’re on your own, cash flow can be insanely tricky, even if you’re doing well. The 10 things you were sure would work don’t work. The next 10 things do work, but not as well as you wished they would.
And it’s taking a lot of time and energy to refine them. And just when you’re feeling good, you pay estimated taxes and suddenly you’re broke again. And your COBRA provider drops you for a bogus reason right in the middle of your insane busiest week.
It’s fun, too. It’s exhilarating and you feel amazingly alive. The rewards are real. But some days it’s hard. And some days it’s scary.
It’s your journey
I’m reading Chris Brogan’s Trust Agents right now, which is terrific. One of things that resonates for me is his idea of treating your life as a game.
You create the game. And you make the rules.
When folks like me exhort you to get way outside your comfort zone, we’re trying to liberate you from your fears. But not all fear is unhealthy. One of my favorite Naomi sayings is, “Absence of fear is not courage. Absence of fear is mental illness.”
Make your own rules. Build your own safety net. Build quadruple safety nets if you want to. I’m the sole breadwinner in my family and I have a mortgage and a four-year-old. You’d better believe I had a whole bunch of contingency plans before I went out on my own.
And yeah, I felt wimpy for taking so long. But looking behind me, I’m very glad I did it the way I did.
It’s not lame to have a day job
I loved many things about my day job, one of the nicest being that I knew exactly how my mortgage and health insurance were going to get paid for.
But the longer I was there, the harder it was to ignore some key facts.
- I’m really not cut out to work in a company bigger than about five people.
- My job looked like it was going to disappear in the next round of layoffs, so I was very in tune with the reality that day jobs don’t equal security.
- Working harder and putting more passion in didn’t get me any greater results. In fact, it just got on the nerves of many of the senior executives.
- I’d built a strong foundation to go solo, with the blog, the email newsletter, and the wonderful professional relationships I’d nurtured.
- The economy was in a perfect place to support the kind of work I wanted to do on my own. That meant that I would be able to help a lot more people by devoting more time to my own thing.
None of that means I think day jobs are evil. That one I had just stopped being suitable for me.
The biggest issue when you transition from employment to entrepreneurship is that you make all of your own decisions.
That’s the part you can start doing today. You can decide how big a role (if any) you want your business to play in your life. You can decide that making $300 a month is just perfect for you right now, and enjoy building that success.
If it takes you 5 years to get there, who cares? It’s your game. It’s your vision. You get to build it the way you want to.
You can make up the rules of your game. You can define what it means to win. And if the rules aren’t working for you, you can change them.
That’s the fun part of all this, and any of us can do it. You’re wise enough to make wonderful decisions for your own life. So go for it. I’m cheering you on.
Let us know in the comments what rules you’re writing these days for your own game. How are they working for you?