One of the stories I tell about my business (Sheldrake Consulting) is: “After 18 years, I quit my stable job in higher ed and took my business full-time.” Technically, this is true. But it’s not the whole story. It took me five years to build my business and muster the courage (kick in the behind, really) to give it a go. Five. years.
I started writing resumes in 2012. Students were advising themselves on all things career- not a good idea. I saw a gap and I volunteered to fill it. I started helping them write their resumes and cover letters. I did this- for free- eek! for almost a year. Finally, I started asking for LinkedIn recommendations in exchange for my time and expertise. About a year after that I charged non-student clients a very small fee. Very small.
In 2015, I finally chose a name for my company and became an LLC. I increased my fee. Then, I increased it again.
My former “career” started to unravel in 2016. I was being bullied and abused by upper management and it became clear that there was no future in that role. Then, in 2017, “after 18 years, I quit my stable job in higher ed and took my business full-time.” In June I will celebrate one full year as an n of 1. While terrifying (it still is), it wasn’t that big of a stretch to go full-time. I had been doing it for years. I had practice. I was getting referrals. I had saved enough money to hire a graphic designer to create a real logo. And my business is what I have always done- helping others be better versions of themselves.
Don’t be wooed by “overnight success stories.” There’s no such thing. Starting a business is more than a tagline. You have to want it and you have to work for it. Entrepreneurs, solo-preneurs, side-hustlers, small business owners got where we are because we put in the time, money, blood, sweat, tears, self-doubt, and sleepless nights to make our ideas reality. You can, too! I believe that. Everyone has something to offer. If your next adventure involves setting out on your own- go for it! The self-employed/small business community is awesome and supportive. Be smart and strategic. Keep doing the next right thing. Take small steps each day and that will take you all the way home. Good luck!