Episode #7 - Corporate Escape: From Side-Hustle to Entrepreneur
Hey Rebels! How are you today? I'm a bit excited about this topic today because it's one that near and dear to my heart. We’re talking about making the leap from employee to entrepreneur. I made that pivot seven years and have never looked back. In fact, I just celebrated my 7th year in business last month, and that's pretty amazing considering about 20% of small businesses fail in the first year, and 51% do not survive beyond five years!
But this business venture wasn't my first attempt at entrepreneurial life. I've had at least 3 or 4 side-hustles throughout my career, testing the waters to see if it was something I could do. So I guess the writing was on the wall to eventually run my own business.
The outside work I did was exciting, and I loved being able to do work I enjoyed the way I wanted. I ventured into mediation, consulting, coaching, and even retail sales. It was easy to try new things while in my employer's safe, warm, and predictable-income arms. And with each venture out into the entrepreneurial space, I learned something new about doing business, but what was most eye-opening was what I learned about myself. Eventually, I decided to leap without the safety net of a steady income, retirement plan, or even health insurance, but I did it at a time when it felt right to me mentally and emotionally. I would have been panicked any other time, but this time, it felt right, which made me believe in myself and what I was doing even though I had a kid who had just graduated high school and was heading to college and another two years out from college.
I definitely had some nervous moments but Eminem's song "Lose Yourself," which is one of my favorites, kept playing in my mind, particularly the refrain. It goes, ”you better lose yourself in the music, the moment, you own it, you better never let it go, you only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow, this opportunity comes once in a lifetime!" Whenever I need a push or pick-me-up, I still blast that song and use it as a reminder that "success is my only option, failure's not!”
By the way, I think everyone needs to have a song that pumps them up and get’s them going. Music is a powerful thing.
2021 has been a record-breaking year for new entrepreneurs.
I recently saw a report that said, this year alone, 38.6 million people have voluntarily quit their jobs as a result of the Great Resignation. During that same timeframe, 1.4 million people have started new businesses. That's a new record! The new businesses were overwhelmingly created by women and people of color, maybe not surprising considering women and people of color were also the most impacted by the pandemic.
Midlife women are becoming the new "entrepreneurial superpower," as one Forbes article proclaimed. Research shows that 50+-year-old entrepreneurs are 2x as likely to be successful as those in their 20s. I believe there are two compelling reasons, resiliency, and experience.
That's why I always talk about the power of the midlife pivot. At this stage in our lives, we've honed our skills and expertise, grew our networks, developed leadership skills (whether directly in the workplace or indirectly by managing up or managing our homes), and understand how to connect and build relationships, all skills that can serve us well in growing a business.
For many women, we're also in a powerful economic position because we're managing the purchasing and spending choices of our family, our parents, and our kiddos. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Journal, women now drive the world economy, influencing 70 to 80% of all buying decisions. However, worldwide, women are still only making 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.
It's no wonder women are quitting their jobs at higher rates than men, taking their intellectual property with them and creating their economy. And I am 100% here for it.
Now for those who aren't ready to make that leap, that means employment opportunities abound. Even though employers are doing more to woe people back to their companies, they're also doing more due diligence to ensure a good and lasting fit. That means if you're in the market to make a career pivot, you're going to have to do a LOT more than just brush up your resume.
But, for those who are toying with the idea of taking their side hustle to full-time status or have already made their corporate escape, there are some key things you need to know to make sure you get past that 20% who fail in their first year and the over 50% who fail in five!
Yes, you have the expertise, experience, connections, and know-how, but that's just about half the battle. Actually, it may be only a quarter of the battle.
Over the years of coaching new entrepreneurs and building my own successful business, I've found that there are six critical pathways to a profitable business. They're my 6M's to a sustainable business.
Mindset: It should come as no surprise to you that the first, and arguably the most important, is mindset. The pathway from employee to entrepreneur requires a different way of thinking, one that you were never taught or had to utilize. It's a set of beliefs, values, and thought processes that will help propel you forward to success. Running your own business brings up a LOT of stuff. No matter how much of a power player you were as the VP of your company, the vulnerability required of entrepreneurialism will send your brain into overdrive! Our brains freak out any time we venture into something new or unknown, so expect to question whether you're good enough, if you'll ever make money, if people like you, are you worth what you're charging, etc. And when things don't go as planned or go completely wrong (and trust me, they will), your brain will give you a loud, "I told you so," and you're going to want to quit. That's why as a new entrepreneur, you'll want to become infinitely more familiar with your thoughts and how they're creating your reality in your business at every turn. Like I always say Rebels, it's an inner and outer game you have to play to achieve the success you want.
Mission: The second "M" is mission. This is about being crystal clear on why you're starting a business and the impact you want your business to make on the world. You don't have to have an altruistic reason; it just has to be highly and deeply meaningful for you. Enough to sustain you and motivate you when the going gets tough. Think of it as your guiding north star that will always lead you in the right direction when you feel stuck or frustrated. In addition, your mission may be what attracts your market to you. Now, the one thing I want to note is that your mission is not the same thing as your passion. You can be passionate about cupcakes and champagne (God knows I am), but that doesn't mean it's what's driving your mission. Also, we often fall in and out of love with our passions, and as we grow and age through the lifespan, what held our passion 10 or 15 years may have dwindled over the years. And, just because you're excited about something doesn't mean you want to generate an income from it. So, there's a difference. Your mission is more about your guiding vision for your business.
Market: A business is not a business without customers. Who are you going to sell to? The biggest mistake I see new entrepreneurs make is failing to niche down and clarify who they want to sell to. They initially want to sell to everyone, believing incorrectly that everyone wants and can use what they offer. When you try to sell to everyone, you often end up selling to no one, so you want to spend some time thinking about who your peeps are, where they are and why they want what you have to offer. It's soo easy to believe your own hype when you get started. I surely did. You believe so strongly in your mission, and what you want to offer the world that you think as soon as you tell folks, you won't be able to handle the rush of clients and customers. This is often followed by ego-crushing disappointment. It's not pretty; believe me, I've been there. Sometimes it takes a little trial and error before you can nail down your market, but the work you'll do to find your people will pay off significantly in the end for you.
Method: Now that you know the business you want to run and who your customers and clients are, you’ll want to get even more precise on what you want to offer them. Many midlife professional women will consider going into coaching or consulting because they have so much expertise and knowledge they can share with the next generation. In fact, I wrote a blog post about becoming a coach. Coaching is one of the fastest-growing business sectors in the US, it's also one of the least regulated, so it's pretty easy to throw up your shingle and call yourself a coach. I have thoughts about that, so I'll refer you back to my blog post, which I'll post a link to in the show notes. Regardless of what business you launch, you want to map out services you'll deliver and how you'll provide them. When figuring out your method, you'll want to consider three things: what your client wants and needs, what you want to deliver, and it is your delivery method sustainable. While I've coached people on various business models, I'm most familiar with service-based businesses. When you're in a field or industry where there's a lot of competition, you want to make sure your signature program and method stand out in the hearts and minds of your market.
Message: This is why it's essential to know your market because if your message is muddled, your people won't understand why they should buy from you instead of your competitor. On my team, we call this "your milkshake." You know, like the song? Your milkshake has got to bring all your people to the yard! You must have a solid and compelling message about what you do, why you do it, and who you do it for, so people can determine if they want your milkshake or not. This is called your brand, and a lot goes into creating a compelling brand. In addition, to the actual message, you want to be clear on where and how you'll share it. It's often quite alarming to new entrepreneurs when I tell them how much they need to get the message out about who they are and what they do. If you've not had to promote yourself, talk about yourself, or share much about what you do outside of your organization, the occasional networking meeting, or your family, brace yourself and prepare to be exposed!
Monetize: The sixth and final "M" is all about money. You may have wondered when I was going to talk about money; after all, isn't that what business is about. Yes, if you're not making money, you have more of a hobby than a business. However, if you haven't worked through the first five M's, particularly your mindset issues around money, you're going to have big problems. In the last podcast episode, I talked about money and your mindset. Pricing is the thing that scares most new entrepreneurs. "What should I charge?" is the second most popular question after, "What should I do?" Pricing, however, isn't purely objective. It's as much about your personal revenue goals as your clear understanding of your market. There really are no hard and fast rules when it comes to pricing. It’s not based on your worth, but it’s based on the value you bring to your clients and customers. And it’s critical that you see the value in what you offer. If you don’t you’re likely to undercharge which may sully the perception others have in the value of your offering. Your message and method should support the value perception in the mind of your intended client or customer.
And there you have it. My pathway to entrepreneurial success. Whether you’re just starting out or making over $1 million, you’ll find that you’ll be fine tuning and applying these success principles throughout the life your business. I surely do!
Well, that’s it for me today Rebels!
I dropped a link to a workbook you can refer to that outlines what I talked about in this podcast. Be sure to grab that link in the show notes.
Also, if you've been listening and loving this podcast, I would love it if you would share it with a friend, a colleague, anyone who you think would get a lot out of it. The topics have a broad application and could prove to be insightful to others in the same situation as you.
Thanks for tuning in!! Until next time have an amazingly rebellious week.