This Facebook memory popped up today.
Not only did I quit my job, I quit a job sought after by many young sports enthusiasts. I loved my job, but — after 10 years — it was time to move on. I gave my two weeks’ notice and dreaded the act of leaving. Packing up my office was like moving out of my childhood home. I had been with the Lions since I was 22 years old and — in many ways — I grew up there. It was scary stuff.
What I know now …
I could say I wish I hadn’t experienced trials these last four years, but I would be lying. Without all of the twists and turns, I wouldn’t be standing on the firm foundation I’m on right now. I’ve built a business that supports my family, helped buy us a house, and provides immense fulfillment.
But that isn’t the entire story. The entire story is a lot messier and includes things I’d much rather leave out of the “fairy tale” depiction of building and sustaining a business. The mess, though, is what makes it real and what has taught me how to be successful.
Maybe your mess looks a lot like mine.
1. I was terrified.
When all you’ve known for 10 years is the structure of being told where to be, what to do, and how to perform, the sudden free-fall of owning your own business is a major shock to the system. I needed things to do and there was no one there to tell me what to do. The initial shift into this new world was a big one.
It took me awhile to figure out how to own my newfound freedom. I bought a lot of office supplies and drank a lot of coffee.
2. My first try failed.
When I left the Lions, I had a plan. One year later, that plan had completely dissolved and I was back to square one, trying to figure out what I wanted to do. If you’ve never owned your own business, here’s something you should know: it is a vulnerable, soul-searching process.
You find yourself knowing what you’re good at, but not knowing how to articulate it. It’s really humbling to price your professional worth and then ask people to pay you. Trust me, it’s not the same as asking for a raise or interviewing for a 9-5. You feel like you’re “playing job” when you first start.
Someone asks you how much your services cost and you tell them … while praying and cringing all at the same time. Then, after you’ve inevitably priced yourself way too low, you’re cursing the fact that you didn’t set your bar higher.
3. There is guilt.
As I looked to reinvent my business, I felt so much (self-inflicted) pressure and guilt. I tried to continue with what I thought I wanted to do with my business, but — though I didn’t know it then — I had to hit a professional bottom. I got to a point of feeling so guilty for draining my family’s funds that I began applying for full-time jobs.
I was awarded interview after interview, but never landed anything. It may have been because it wasn’t meant to be or because I didn’t want a full-time job … or a combination of both. But the end result was my husband looking at me and saying, “No, I think you’d be great at owning your own business!”
My guilt had blinded me to my incredible support system (and I recognize not everyone has that). After that moment — nearly two years in — I decided there was no turning back. I resolved that I would never work another 9-5.
4. Feedback is essential.
I have iterated so many times it’s hysterical. Between being deep in my own business and hearing constant feedback from experts about what I “should” be doing, I lost my own vision in the noise.
Epiphanies happened for me when I allowed others I trusted (see one of my very close friends Danielle Liss in the picture) to reflect back to me what they saw in me. And when I say epiphanies, I mean angels were singing.
I would not be where I am today without the love and support of people I didn’t even know when I started this journey (Tara Humphrey, I’m also looking at you).
5. Success is pretty damn awesome.
I don’t think I even recognized “success” until recently. It’s definitely in the eye of the beholder but — for me — success has been the ability to support my family while being fulfilled in my work.
I am someone who has to love my job. I want to make a difference with my work, whether that’s through a nonprofit or by helping other passionate entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground.
It’s why — four years later, when I really look back — I can see the success. I’ve made a difference along the way and I’ve loved what I’m doing. I can also see how far I have to go, but I know it’s the journey that will shape me even further.
Entrepreneurs, see the truth below.
Embrace it, or you’ll never make it.
About Chrissie Wywrot
Chrissie Wywrot is a B2B lead generator and personal brand strategist who works with passionate entrepreneurs and professional athletes. To learn more about her services, visit her LinkedIn profile or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.