starting your own business


If you had asked me a few years ago if I ever saw myself running my own business, I probably would have said something along the lines of:

“Are you crazy? No way! I’m not cut out for running my own business. That’s for other people, not me.”

For six years, I worked in nonprofits in DC. I even worked at one nonprofit, where I ran and taught a small business training program for immigrant and refugee women in the DC metro area. I was always inspired and in awe of the work they were doing and the sacrifices they made to follow their dreams. I loved teaching the weekly business classes and helping them brainstorm and launch their ideas. Yet, I never saw myself in the entrepreneurship roll.

At that point, I was five years into my nonprofit career, I had co-founded a nonprofit, and at 27 years of age, I was BURNED-OUT beyond belief. At the time, I didn’t even recognize it as burnout.

To top it all off, my fiancé (then boyfriend) was traveling for work more often then not, while I stayed in DC working myself into a frenzy. While he was away on a job in Australia, we realized we no longer wanted to live this way. We wanted to travel together, and I wanted to be able to go with him when he had long-term jobs in other countries.

The next 20 years of our life started unfolding before our eyes. Both of us knew, if we didn’t make a change soon, we’d end up unhappy and resenting each other.

So I started looking into teaching English overseas (again, still not thinking about starting my own business). It was in my Google searching that I came across several websites for life coaches and business coaches. As I was clicking from site to site, getting sucked into a Google vortex, it suddenly hit me, “This is it! This is what I do already. I’ve just been doing it at a nonprofit. I can start my own business doing what I already know how to do!”

The answer seemed so simple. So why I hadn’t I realized that before?

Probably because I had convinced myself that starting a business wasn’t for me.

As soon as I mentioned the idea to Eric, he excitedly proclaimed, “Yes! This is what you were meant to do. Let’s make it happen.”

It was a like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I had found the answer I was looking for, but I didn’t know how to get from point A to B. I felt like I was drowning in a sea of information, where all I wanted to do was compare myself to others out there already doing the work and running their own business. So I hired my own life coach to help me get over some of the self-doubt I had, get an outside perspective, and hold me accountable.

9-5 commute.

The very last time I ever commuted home from my 9-5. Don’t miss those long commutes at all!

It’s now been more than two years since my realization. I’m still a long way from where I want to be with my business goals, which are constantly evolving, but I could never go back to a traditional 9-5. Through all the ups and downs, sacrifices, hard work, blood, sweat, and tears – it’s been worth it. Other than my relationship with Eric and hiking the Camino de Santiago, it’s the hardest, but one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in life.

So whether you’ve thought about starting a business before or you are just surfing the web searching for answers, here are 10 clues on why I think you might be ready to start your own business:

1.) You are sick and tired of living the 9-5 life. You don’t want to plan your life around your work anymore. Sure, running a business doesn’t mean working just four hours a week, but it does give you the ability to set a lot of your own hours. There are some weeks where I work 10 hours a week and some where I work 40+. But, I love having the freedom to schedule my own week.

2.) You got fired and/or you’ve been turned down from countless “dream” positions. When I lived in DC, I applied for job after job after job. Sometimes I’d go on six interviews at one organization and be told, “that’s it, you are our top pick”, and then they’d give the job to someone else- someone who was slightly more connected than I was. Or I’d be told, “we love you, but we feel you are overqualified.” I started to feel like I’d never be able to move into a position that would allow me to do things I really wanted to do.

3.) You are ready to work harder than you ever have before – as long as you are passionate about your work. Since starting my own business, I have worked harder than I ever have before. I’m not going to lie, it has been a huge responsibility and undertaking that impacts every aspect of my life.

4.) You are miserable at your current job and/or burned-out. Even though I work harder than I ever have before, I’m finally starting to get over my burnout. I personally believe, that it has a lot to do with how fulfilled I feel. I think under-fufillment leads to long lasting burnout.

5.) You are looking for some financial freedom, but you’ve capped out within your field or at your current job. This was always a struggle for me working in the nonprofit world. In two different jobs, I was hired as the Project Director, but because each time was at a nonprofit, my salary was always capped at the mid-$30,000 range. There was no room for me to move up in title or salary. I wanted to do good in the world, but I also wanted financial freedom. I’ve had to bootstrap my business, but as it grows, I’m able to do more and more, and I can see how with more financial freedom and a business model that fosters social good, you can support amazing change in the world. I love nonprofits, there is a need for them, but I now see there is also a need for businesses that do good.

6.) You have at least one supportive person in your life who believes in you, and/or you are willing to go out and find a mentor or someone to support you along the way. I’m lucky. I have some incredibly supportive friends, family, and the best fiancé in the world. What I’ve learned is, that in starting a business, support is vital. If you don’t already have at least one supportive person in your life, that is there for you during your darkest hour, and believes in you no matter what, go out and find someone, hire a coach, or get a mentor.

7.) You want to be able to live in any city, state, or country you feel like. You don’t want your job to determine where you live!

8.) You look at other people who have their own businesses, and you are inspired by them. You think it would be awesome to be able to do the same.

9.) You are ready for a roller coaster ride. You realize starting a business is no walk in the park. You know there will be days you want to quit, or that you don’t believe in your ability to build a successful business, and you are prepared to work through them.

10.) You have something you are super passionate about, and/or you see a gap or need in the market. You are ready to make time to researching and exploring the idea.

Starting a business is a huge risk. But I believe it is one worth taking.

If you think it’s something you even remotely want, I challenge you to let yourself believe it is possible. The idea of possibility inspires ideas, and once you let your mind go there, you will discover ideas you didn’t even know were there.

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