I’m sick of pretty stories (often code for “selectively edited” stories). I’m also sick of the trite rags-to-riches stories. My path to entrepreneurship was ugly. Hell, most days it’s still ugly (though for totally different reasons now…), but it’s MY story. My hope is this helps you think about and be ok with YOUR story.
I wanted to be an entrepreneur from the age of 6 on. My first foray was a greeting card company. I stood in the greeting card aisle with my mom as she picked out cards, and I counted up how many there were of different types of cards. I noticed that there were far more Happy Birthday cards than Get Well cards (and thought, “I should make Get Well cards! There’s not much competition here!”). I flipped all the cards over to check their prices.
When I got home, I made a series of cards (5? 6?). I wrote the price on the back and included a mark-up because, hey, this was handmade, one-of-a-kind shit. I tried to sell my grandma one, and she promptly paid me in that imaginary, “I’m going to press a few pennies into your hand” kinda way, to which I responded, “No, I want real money.”
I spent the next *ahem* 22 (TWENTY TWO) years trying to get something off the ground. In the summer, I planned grocery store take-overs with my 4×4 backyard garden. In the winter, I picked out vending machines from classified ads. I always had a plan, but, for a variety of reasons, never had much action. And so, when I was done with college, I did the smart-but-soul-crushing-thing and got a job.
I spent my corporate life as a technical writer. For an English major (<– which is often code for “over-educated barista”), it was an amazing job. I was well-paid; my husband and I bought our nice home in the suburbs at the ripe old age of 24 and 26; when my kids came along, they let me work from home all but one day each week; I worked with pretty cool people in a company with flexible hours & good benefits.
And I was miiiiiiiissssssssssserable. Like “cry on the way to work” miserable. The job was menial (a well-trained monkey could have done what I did). I hated cubicles and not being able to spontaneously take off for whatever place had last caught my attention on Trip Advisor. I didn’t give two shits about the work I was doing. I knew I wasn’t cut out for corporate life about two days into it.
But I knew SO many people would have happily traded places with me. I heard all the time how “lucky” I was to be home with my kids while keeping my job (they clearly had never tried to entertain/feed/diaper/nap two kids while ACTUALLY WORKING!). I felt bad about my discontent. I felt guilty for not just accepting what I had, like the rest of my suburban neighbors who were living roughly the same life.
WHY COULDN’T I JUST LEAD A “NORMAL” LIFE AND BE OK WITH THAT?!
But that itch… you know what I’m talking about. The one that says, “There’s something better. This isn’t right for you, and you need to be doing your own thing.” I was constantly torn between that itch and thinking I should just be “content” and “grateful” and “ok.”
And so I spent 5 freakin’ years wanting to quit my job. When I was pregnant with my oldest kiddo, I started dabbling. Blogs. Etsy shops. Even grad school. And a lot of other stuff I can’t even really remember anymore.
I kept saying I wanted it BAD… but deep down inside, I was SCARED. Like SCARED SCARED. (I really had no clue how scared I actually was.)
I was scared of failing. Scared of changing my mind. Scared of succeeding. Scared of who knows what all else. And for me, that showed up in the form of constantly learning.
I listened to podcasts and audio books. I watched webinars and Gary Vaynerchuk videos. I was signing up for freebies on how to optimize my sales funnels when I didn’t have a freakin’ clue what I even wanted my business to be. I made blogs which sent me down the rabbit hole of learning WordPress and Mailchimp (and then, because Aweber allowed more segmentation of the 20 people I had on my list, I had to learn that… obviously).
My priorities were so jacked up and I was procrastinating by “learning” (everyone does it in a different way, but I was a procrasti-learner) because I was scared of actually doing anything legit.
And then, in May of 2015, I took a road trip by myself. Fifteen hours in the car each way of just me listening to David Neagle tell me things like, “If you want to change your life, you have to CHANGE YOUR LIFE.”
I came home, and without a plan, any contacts, or any freakin’ clue what to do next, I quit my job. I was done done.
When I quit my job, none of the crap I had convinced myself was so important before mattered. I didn’t need a website. I needed SALES! I took the skills I had (copywriting from the corporate job) and I sold the bejeezus out of it. I was a copywriter that didn’t even have her own copy. But I was doing it, because now there was urgency. I had removed all the opportunities to avoid taking meaningful action because I had mouths to feed, and wouldn’t you know it, I FIGURED IT OUT (and then I pivoted OUT of copywriting because, well, that was one of the points of leaving my corporate job).
Two weeks later, I hired my first coach. A mindset coach. I had been doing a lot of mindset work on my own for months (years?) prior, but I knew that I was still my own worst enemy and that I would make much faster progress with someone shining light on my own BS.
The changes I made in my life in the course of 6 months were incredible. I (mostly) ditched the overwhelm, the procrasti-learning, the perfectionism, and I finally started living the life I wanted.
My mission (which I’ve finally chosen to accept), is to help as many other people as humanly possible stop going to bed at night having just lived another “same shit, different day” kind of life. It doesn’t have to be pretty (it might be downright ugly), but you can spend your life doing the stuff you really care about.
Want to know what 3 things kept me stuck for five years and why? I dig into that in a pseudo-Part 2 of my story here.