First Startup, New Career? Let’s Talk Money, Attitude, and Patience
Someone asked me the other day:
“In shifting from job to passion, what is the single biggest challenge, frustration or problem that you have been struggling with?”
First off: There is no “OR.” It’s challenges AND frustrations AND problems.
That is why I unpacked the question and shared my Number One in each category.
My Biggest Struggle:
A constant stream of income.
There’s no point in dancing around it: When you build a business or drastically change careers, you will face some very dry months before money starts to trickle in.
If you take the plunge when you aren’t ready yet
I fled the corporate scene practically overnight. No business plan, no contacts in the new industry, no clients and just a vague idea of what I wanted to do. Worst-practice.
A few months in and some trial and error later, I have now narrowed down my services, identified my clients, and so on.
But without money in the bank and a supportive spouse, I’d be withering away in my cubicle right now.
So before you jump ship or drop out of college, pause for a moment:
- Do you have the means to pay the rent, groceries, and your phone bill?
- Is there anyone you can fall back on if you have to?
- What sources can you tap into until your business fully supports you?
If you can, take the low-risk-best-practice approach: Map out your venture well before you take the plunge.
Write the business plan, get like-minded people on board, and — most importantly — analyze your financial situation. Be clear how will you support yourself for the next 6 to 12 months.
- Cash in the bank?
- A partner (willing and able)?
- Government funds/VCs?
- Tutoring or flipping products on eBay?
If you lose sleep over an impending eviction because you’re behind on rent, your business will never take off. Cover your basics.
My Biggest Challenge:
Shaking the employee mentality and put on my boss pants, 24/7.
Let me elaborate:
The longer you work 9 to 5, the longer it takes to change this ingrained perception of what a “work day” is. How decisions are made and in which ways you can contribute (or not).
Don’t panic — an internship or two won’t taint you much. What I’m talking about is years in Corporate Land. Ten years in my case.
See, I always considered myself a driven, ownership-type of person.
- Team members need software training? Sure, I’ll organize and run the sessions.
- Lunchbox forum to polish my professional skills? Great, I’m going.
- Longer hours to submit the end-of-month reporting in time? Bring it on.
Running my own business, however, has taught me this:
If you think your product or service solves someone’s pain points (and you want them to buy your solution), it requires a whole different level of proactivity and following through.
Every day, on your own. And no skipping what wrecks your nerves or bores you brainless.
Identifying your clients, refining your services, shaping your online presence, engaging actively and consistently with people in your niche, delivering superb services — it’s a lot of work. Surprise, I know.
I underestimated that, and it keeps challenging me because no one makes decisions or carries part of the load with me.
My Biggest Frustration:
My lack of patience.
I used to believe that I’m a patient person.
Long lines at the checkout don’t bother me. And I won’t harass you if you don’t reply to my email within the hour. I know that you have a life, too.
But when something really, really matters to me, I’m not a patient person, I’ve noticed.
- Building a network of fantastic people to collaborate with and learn from takes time. (It should.)
- From initial quote to signed contract? Weeks pass! When I’m itching to sit down and edit this eBook already.
- Refining my writing and editing skills — don’t even get me started. It’s one post, one book at a time. Painfully slow, that’s what it is.
I’m frustrated and impatient because I fiercely love what I do. I want to learn and improve and share. Now.
But I keep forgetting that I can’t expect to take off as a writer/editor where I left after ten years in finance.
I can’t rush it.
Neither can you.
You improve and progress one day at a time, over months and months and months. Keep at it, be persistent.