“Where do you see yourself in the next 3, 5, 10 years?”
Definitely inevitably older. But if you were to ask me this question 5-10 years ago I would’ve told you that climbing the corporate ladder into a Chief Marketing Officer role was my ultimate goal.
Fast forward to present day, this couldn’t be further from the truth and what makes me jump out of bed every day to chase my dreams.
I recently read an article about “why more one-person businesses are breaking $1M in revenue” and it really got me thinking – reflecting on my career path and where I believe the movement of the workforce is going.
When I graduated college, I remember many of the decision making power was mostly in the employers’ control. A common question I heard over and over again was, “Why should I hire you?”
Now, that’s not so much the case anymore. With the shortage of talent, it’s becoming harder and harder for companies to find and retain the unicorns and A-players. The tables have turned and it’s more about the employees asking, “Why should I choose to work for you?”
For years, I’ve followed “lifestyle entrepreneurs” that are doing what they love, on their own time without being at the mercy of someone else’s power and decisions.
And for years, I pushed hard to climb my way to the top of becoming a CMO… But it wasn’t until 2015, I remember pressing my foot hard on the break, asking myself: What am I really doing?
That itch for becoming my own boss has never left. Is now the time to take that leap? What’s stopping me from building my own dreams?
Needless to say, I took the leap. Here’s why…
As I ventured into my late 20s I realized a recurring theme, I was a job hopper chasing dollars, better opportunities, and what I thought was my taste of ‘happiness’. And it just didn’t matter – as my salary jumped higher and higher, my happiness began to dissipate.
Hence, the question: What am I really doing?
Never Be Satisfied
Highly self-critical and overly analytical, I was patient with my journey. I never made rash decisions because I had set goals of what I wanted to eventually become: the CEO of my life.
The crux of every work situation I encountered was entrenched with a ton of learnings. More specifically, what I shouldn’t do when I run my company and what I should do… but more so the things I knew I didn’t want. And paradoxically, it was in knowing what I didn’t want that what I did want surfaced so clearly.
Know Your ‘Why’
Because there was more to my life than just working every day. I knew I wanted to build a family, I wanted to spend time with my friends and family, and I wanted to have moments in life I could reminisce on with a smile. The purpose behind what you do and the mission for continuing on is what will push you to produce quality results for your business as well as those who work for/with you.
Trading time for dollars is great at the beginning, but it’s not feasible and scalable as you continue on the entrepreneurial journey. Inputting automation and outsourcing to subject matter experts while sustaining high margins is where the magic happens.
Be Smart with Your Finances
One thing I continued to do over the years is live below my means and as GaryVee says, “Saving up that cash to be on the offense.”
More importantly, when running your company, don’t spend everything you make. Put that money back into the business and then put money aside for the slow periods too.
Nothing will kill your business faster than not properly managing your cash flow. 82% of businesses fail because of cash flow problems. So be smart with what you spend and make sure you lay out a clear roadmap of what you expect in return.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Unknown
I’ll be the first to admit that I am a bit of a control freak. I like being in the driver seat and knowing the next turn in my life, especially when it comes to my work. What I love so much about entrepreneurship is that I do have the ability to work wherever I want, but it also comes with the challenges of uncertainty.
Landing a client today doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll be here tomorrow or even six months from now. Yes, things don’t always pan out the way I want but the point here is to not be afraid of the unknown because you can’t really control that.
Therefore, always being on the offense to build out a pipeline and create a path of opportunities is consistently top of mind for me.
Balance Working Hard With Mindful Resting
Being self-employed does have its perks; yet, on the other hand, you also have to make sure you are hustling every single day to bring in money. Truth is, it isn’t for everyone either and that’s okay.
But for those who are ready to take that jump into entrepreneurship, know that there will be times where the weekdays and weekends will begin to blend in together. In order to keep up, consider the following:
- Make time to disconnect every single day. This could be 1-2 hours for a workout, for lunch with a friend, or even for reading.
- Go to bed at a reasonable time. Be aware of what can wait until tomorrow vs. what has to be done today. Having a restful night of sleep will help you feel more refreshed the next day.
- Prioritize. Running your own business can feel like you have way too many things to do, not enough time or manpower. However, this is where the power of prioritization comes in. Focus on the important items that will help move the needle for you first – everything else should come in secondary.
- Outsource. You can’t be the expert in everything when it comes to running a business so outsource what you can (e.g. bookkeeping, taxes, copywriting, etc.)
Always Be Learning
Throughout the years, I’ve always pushed myself to step out of my comfort zone and never be content with the knowledge I’ve gained up-to-date.
The inspiration for my work comes with all of the new things I learn. This could come from taking a Udemy course, reading a book or blog post, to attending networking events.
What I try to focus on is to never stop learning. This fuels personal and work growth and in turn, the clients I work with also benefit because I’m teaching them new things too.
Let’s Wrap It Up
Building a business isn’t the only challenge you’ll encounter as an entrepreneur; it’s all in how you’ll keep the door open month after month and year after year.
Always have a clear game plan in mind of what you want to achieve and how you will go about making it happen.
Know that making mistakes is a part of the journey but don’t ever let that be the reason for why you give up on building a lifestyle and business doing what you love.