First Year of Entrepreneurship - what does it REALLY look like?

Last week I celebrated my birthday.  I also celebrated exactly 1 year since I left my well-paid corporate job to be an entrepreneur.  It was the right next step in my heroine's journey.  I was finally ready to take the leap.  

Within the first month of official launch, I landed my first client.  In a short few months, I've under my belt a number of respectable corporate brands and wonderful individuals who came to work with me one-on-one, as clients.  My work has also been featured in a number of media, giving me valuable visibility boost.

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But what does it REALLY look like?  Especially for someone to transition after over 20 years of corporate career, to start from scratch?

The first year - has been tough!  Entrepreneurship, especially in the first year is challenging, overwhelming, at the same time exhilarating and filled with so much growth. 

Here are the 8 lessons I learned this past 1 year.  

Transition time is play time

After I left my job, the first few weeks were disorienting.  I tried to explain to my daughter what I was going through and she said to me, "Mama, transition time is play time!" At school, they play whenever they transition between two learning periods.  It was end November, so I decided to just play, enjoy the holidays & travels.  

It was not until 3 months later that I got my website up and officially launched my business.  I'm so glad I took the time to play.  Because I initiated this new chapter from a re-energized and happy place.  

Answering the question "what do you do?" is not that easy

Without the job title, the backing of a reputable company and a defined portfolio, the authority, perks, invitations to speak, interviews etc - disappeared too.

I'm no longer selling something on behalf of a big establishment, I'm offering me.  It took me a few months before I got comfortable in owning my answer to the question “so what do you do?”  While I'm clear on why I'm do what I do, I must also be my biggest fan first.

Relationship matters the most

What I miss the most about my corporate job was the people. The daily interactions with the people I care about and enjoy working with, having intellectual sparing, challenging, supporting one another.  The 'what' we accomplished together has faded in memory. The 'how' we showed up for one another, is what stays with me.  As the wise Maya Angelou put it beautifully:   

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Flexibility is powerful

I'm as busy as before but twice as productive.  I still travel regularly, and my calendar is pretty booked.  But I set my structure, choose who I want to work with and what I want to work on. Without the scheduled business reviews to explain scorecard results, means I've to be crystal clear on my priorities, direct my effort accordingly and execute with discipline. "Outcome-focused" is a natural way to plan my work.  Doing is to create the impact I envision.  Work is a daily solutioning creative process that I thoroughly enjoy.

Passion, Patience & Perseverance

Passion alone is not enough.  Most things are taking longer to materialize than I'd like.  And then there're unexpected hurdles along the way. While it's important to have sales & profit goals, those are lagging indicators and take time.  

Instead, be clear on my intention.  Focus my efforts on the right actions.  Dedicate myself to producing exceptionally high quality work. Commit to bringing as much value to as many people as I can reach.  Celebrate the lives I helped change for the better.  It takes passion, patience & perseverance to build a thriving business that stays true to its mission.

Feeling challenged and growing each day is priceless

I look forward to Mondays!  I can't wait to start another week of activities and engagements.  When I shifted my success measurement from achieving to growing - the business and the self, I welcome each day with anticipation, curiosity and excitement.  I love experimenting with different approaches and platforms.  I'm energized by the new possibilities. Entrepreneurship is the best personal development tool I've found so far!  

Living while making a living. 

I used to put my life on-hold.  Just after this quarter, I'd be able to get back to my workout, pick up golf again, play guitar with my daughter as I promised, spend more time with my parents...  I postponed living my full life.  

I set SMART goals at work, I achieved them - at the expense of my health & my family.  I planned my life around my work.  And when I got to my "life" part, I'd be rushing. Not so smart after all.

Now I organize my day to reflect my priorities - and work happens to be one of them.  I'm not just making a living.  I'm LIVING. I'm PRESENT. 

Be grateful, always

No matter how bad the day is going or how many issues are there to address, I know I'm incredible fortunate to be dealing with first-world problems.  Instead of stressing about the risks we have to take and decisions we've to make, I'm grateful for the abundance, options and choices.  There's so much to be grateful for.  The time, help, trust, support from family, friends, acquaintances. When I'm grateful, whatever I do next, will be from a place of love and service.

I'm deeply grateful for the joy to be on this journey of making this world a better place by increasing the supply of good leaders!