By: Caroline Vazzana
One year ago today, I made one of the scariest decisions thus far in my career. I left behind what most people would have considered my "dream job" to become my own boss. At the time I was nervous, I wouldn't say scared, because I didn't really doubt my decision. But, yes, I was nervous, very nervous, if I could really make it on my own and without a huge publication name behind me. I am happy to report that making this daunting decision was one of the best life choices I've ever made and has taught me so much about myself and about running a business. Below I'm reflecting on the past year and the many, many things I've learned along the way. Here's how I left my full-time job and followed my passion, and how you can too.
1. It won't be easy
Starting out on my own was definitely one of the hardest things I've ever done. Personally, I knew where I wanted to be in my career, and the kind of woman I wanted to become, but I had absolutely no idea how I would get there. Over the past year it's taken a lot of trial and error. I've learned a lot more than I thought I ever would, like how to say no to things I didn't necessarily want to do (which you now have the option to do when you're your own boss!). But, I also learned how to establish what my personal brand is and what really works for me. Which leads me to my next point...
2. What is your brand?
What is it that you have to say? What's different from what you're doing than what someone else is doing? When you figure out what you're adding to the conversation that someone else isn't, that is when you will be successful. This also applies if you're selling a product. Before you start, you must figure out what makes you different. Once you do, go for it, but until then keep working on figuring out what your brand message is.
3. It's ok to cry
Yes, you read that correctly. Crying is totally okay. In fact, it's in a way, very therapeutic. You are going to have bad days. Days when you question absolutely EVERYTHING. Days when you ask yourself, was this all worth it? Do I have what it takes to "Make It"? Spoiler Alert: the answer is YES. Yes, you have what it takes. Yes you are a badass for taking this risk, go you. And yes, the only person standing in your way of achieving these huge goals you've set for yourself is you. So, my point here is, on days when you just have an awful day, go home, pour yourself a large glass of wine and CRY. Let it all out and the very next day pick yourself up, move on, and work harder.
4. Sending emails becomes second nature
In the past year I've sent more emails than I ever have in my life. Why you ask? A big part of what I do personally, is growing brand awareness and getting the word out there. So emailing people about potential collaborations or even just asking if they'd want to get coffee has become a huge part of my day-to-day. Now, I don't always get responses right away, so it's important not to get discouraged.
5. Surround yourself with people that empower you
Now that you've gone out on your own, you will no longer have the traditional work "team" as I'm sure you already know. You won't have co-workers to speak to on a daily basis, vent to, or run ideas by. So, to make up for this lack of co-workers in your life, it's very important to surround yourself with friends that are going to empower you and support your dreams- no matter how crazy they may be. Also, it's important to surround yourself with practical people who will tell you when an idea you have isn't a good one. Those people who bring you back down are just as necessary as the people who tell you your ideas are the best thing since sliced bread; make sure you have a good mix of both.
6. Save your money
As a self-proclaimed shopaholic, yes, I did just write "save your money." Becoming your own boss does require a lot of responsibility so saving your money is a must. The first few months after leaving a traditional 9-to-5 are going to be hard because you won't have a steady income so being super conscious of what you're spending money on will make things and the overall transition easier. So yes, no more random splurges, at least not for a while.
7. If you work hard, work will come
At the end of the day, yes, if you work hard and put positive energy out into the world, great things will come your way. Work hard, don't give up, and good things will come to you. The more positive energy you radiate, the more you recieve.
Have a question about leaving the traditional 9 to 5 work space? Email me!
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