How my business really started
If you're a new business owner or have been in business for years, chances are you have an origin story that you've highly curated and delivered to the world with a bow on top. I bet it's a lot less messy than the real story about how you started out.
We think that in order to be inspiring we need to appear as though we were successful from the beginning. We package our failures as neat and tidy "lessons on growth" instead of the true hard slaps in the face that they are. We hide the chaos that ensues after we fail at something we were utterly convinced was the best thing we could be doing.
I get it, because I've done it.
There is absolutely nothing wrong about putting a positive spin on things. I think it's a wonderful way to manifest change and move on. But let's not forget that to be vulnerable is a sign of strength. Sometimes we need to share our messy moments with others who are going through their own (and drowning in doubt because of it).
Now it's story time.
Over the past few months I've had multiple women reach out to me for advice. Whether they're running a side business or figuring out when to leave their current 9-5, one question is always the same.
"How do I know I'm ready?"
So, I broke the illusion of having my sh*t together all the time and I answered them vulnerably and honestly. Those emails led me to post this on instagram, facebook, and now I'm putting in on my blog for the whole world to see.
I'm entering into my third year of running my business full time & here's the story I don't tell people about how it started.
I was stuck.
I was working at a company where my boss made it clear to me that there was no way for me to grow professionally beyond my initial entry level position. Maintaining hope that all was NOT lost, I had a year-end review with the Vice President of Marketing. I entered with notes on what I wanted to discuss: doing extra training, attending local business conferences, taking on more responsibilities... you get the idea.
In the end, this is what she told me: I needed to decide if I was going to stay at the company or go and do hair and makeup somewhere.
Shocked, I left my review and cried in the bathroom. I drove home shaking. The next day I put in my two weeks with no backup plan.
All I knew was that I had more to give than to simply put up and shut up.
The following two years were spent living in my childhood home. Ultimately, I wouldn't have been able to get to where I am now without my parents letting me move back in and lock myself away in the basement office.
Taking my when-I-have-time freelance business and transforming it into my full-time job was something I wasn't ready for. Before that I had thought "maybe, someday" or "wouldn't it be nice if..." whenever I thought of full-time business ownership. All of the sudden I was completely responsible for getting clients, figuring out how to get health care, doing my business taxes. To be honest, it was terrifying in the beginning. I masked it with excitement and no one asked any questions... phew!!
I spent those first two years working hard. Failing. Working more. Failing more. Succeeding. Working harder... the cycle continues but I'm getting better at it.
It’s been three years since my last and final corporate year end review. Now, I get to review myself.
I look back and appreciate the fact that I get to work with amazing clients every day. I help my clients reach (and exceed!) their business goals. I see that the work I do makes a big impact and I help business owners achieve things that they couldn’t do on their own. Getting to partner with other women to create things for their business give me so much joy and satisfaction.
Are things as perfect as my curated instagram feed might seem? No way! I'm still learning how to deal with stress. I still have periods of time where I doubt myself and need to eat an entire bag of BBQ chips in one sitting to make myself feel better. Sometimes I take a random day off, because #YOLO. No matter what I do I'm always thinking about work, and I don't quite understand how "work-life balance" actually translates to real life.
Messy moments will always be a part of our story.
Whether we share them or not, don't you dare think you're alone.
So, let me circle back.
Is my real story as inspiring as saying that I always knew I wanted to work for myself, so I "took the leap"? I didn't think so, but now I'm changing my mind.
In the end, how do you know you're ready?
But you make it work.
MY CHALLENGE FOR YOU
I would love for you to share your real stories in the comments or on instagram!
If you post on instagram, please use the hashtag #messybizstory so I can follow you and your biz.