Becoming an Entrepreneur: The Reality Check

Eight weeks ago, I quit my high paying job as a Manager. 

Five weeks ago, I officially launched DNP Talent. 

I am on a learning journey as a new entrepreneur.   I thought it would be interesting to begin to document the journey.  The things people don’t talk about.  Everyone is out here looking confident and successful.  Bunch of fakers!  I won’t be specifically talking about the work – that is second nature to me – but the journey going from employee to working for yourself.    

All of us, at some point, have wondered what it would be like to be our own boss.  What it would be like to manage your own schedule, your own strategy, and your own workload.  Well, my dream came true and it was not what I expected.   

I called it “Office PTSD” my first couple weeks.  I woke up that first Monday morning, got ready for work like I normally would, and sat at my desk chair in my new office from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM.  I even took a standard lunch from Noon – 1:00 PM.  I didn’t even walk outside to grab the mail.  I made calls, wrote emails, interviewed 3 candidates, published a blog, did my social media for the day and started sourcing.  The very first day. I did a weeks’ worth of work in one day. 

I was waiting for my boss to text me at 6:00 AM to vent or my coworkers to tell me they were running late.  I was waiting for someone to ask me why I wasn’t sitting in my desk chair all 8-hours of the day.  I was waiting for someone to tell me I took too long of a lunch.  Or that I left too early for the day.  

It was quiet.  Really quiet. 

There was guilt.  I was able to plan my days the way I felt worked.  I could have a second cup of coffee in the morning and start working at 9 and end at 3 if I wanted to.   I could run my own show.  That caused guilt.  Everyone else around me was working jobs they hated. Jobs they had to get up for every morning, commute into work, get told what to do all day, manage office politics, and then rinse and repeat the next day.  It took weeks to get over this feeling.  It took me weeks to feel comfortable going to get the mail in the middle of the day or sit outside to read a chapter in a book or work outside.   How dare I get sun while everyone else is chained to their desk chair? 

There was empowerment.  For over a decade I worked for organizations where I was their salesperson. I was selling their brand, their vision, their values and their sales pitch.  I could now be me.  Say what I felt was right.  Say what I believed was best practice.  Create a different type of relationship with candidates with deeper conversations and less transaction. Sounds great, right?  It’s almost daunting at first. It’s so empowering that you almost lose your breath and can’t speak. Do I have an actual voice?  Will what I say matter?    

I just started writing.  Wrote what I believed not what the industry was telling was “hot”.  Wrote what I thought candidates and hiring managers needed to hear.  Wrote things that I was never able to say when I was the internal recruiter.  Writing is freeing and empowering and as a new entrepreneur its critical to be a part of the conversation. I am not the greatest writer.  My grammar is not perfect.  You can’t allow everything to stop you.  No more fear.  

The work part came easy thanks to how strong my network was.  I had candidate interviews my first week. I submitted candidates on day 2! Client calls every week since.  Consulting contracts being worked for interview training and clients signing up for resume assessments.  The work was the easy part!   

Understanding what goes into working for yourself has been interesting.  I am learning every single day.  Biggest lessons so far:

  1. Social Media Content Calendar:  All of your marketing gurus are nodding your heads violently. When you start out growing a business the amount of social media portals is overwhelming.   I think I have done pretty good on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin but there is always room for improvement. My next step is a monthly content calendar for blog posts, social updates and strategy.  Goal is to grow my following and network base.  Improve my reach and increase engagement!   
  2. Allow for the Roller-Coaster.  Managing your own business and brand is a roller-coaster.  You will have great days and not so great days.  There are never bad days.  Every day is a learning experience.  Every day is an opportunity to grow.  Some days are busy, some days are slow.  I am learning to expect that.  Every day is not going to feel like a race.  I had a previous leader tell me to block my calendar to think.  Have days where I think, where I strategize, where I write.  Being my own boss allows me to do that, with no guilt.  Expect the slowness. Expect the quiet.  Expect the busy days.  Expect the unexpected and just go with the flow. 
  3. Be Consistent.  Being consistent with my messaging, blogging, posting, candidate follow-up, client follow-up is critical to my success. Creating a to-do list every single day to stick to my goals for the day. Being consistent in my engagement, especially on Linkedin.  Joining the conversations and commenting!  Not being afraid.  Being consistent with my network.  It creates stronger engagement and helps to push my brand forward.  As an entrepreneur it is critical that you be engaged and allow your network to engage with you! 
  4. Sounds cliché but remember to have fun!  The entire reason I quit my job to start my own business was because my passion was lost.  I was burned out by the corporate way. I was burned out by the culture of working. I knew there had to be a better way! I love the days that I stop at a new coffee house to source candidates or blog for the day.  Or sit outside to read a book – right now I am reading “Writing to Persuade: How to bring people over to your side” (https://www.amazon.com/Writing-Persuade-Bring-People-Over-ebook/dp/B07JR2DN9S).  Is it working?!   It is ok to take a break during the day. Have that second (or third) cup of coffee, play with the dog, go get the mail, or even empty the dishwasher!  Its ok!   

I am learning every day. I have wonderful people surrounding me, cheering me along the way. I have a wonderful network within recruitment/HR whom has reached out to schedule calls with me just to tell me their stories. How they started, what they experienced, and to offer advice. We need to share the reality. Our stories. We need to use our network.

We are all here to learn from each other. 

Here we are:  Week 5.  I made a great decision.   Onto Week 6!