08 Apr By Request: Making the First Big Leap
Back in March, I recorded an episode about Making the Price Leap, which is when your business is surviving and you want to kick it up to thriving. I received some requests to discuss the first big leap, i.e., leaving your corporate job in order to step fully into your business or freelancing career.
✔️ Full disclosure: there is no one way to make the leap. Everyone’s situation is different. This is simply my experience with what has worked for me and what has not.
✔️ Testing and beta testing are crucial. If you can suss out ahead of time that your business idea or business model is not gonna work, it is so much better than going into debt or blowing up your corporate career.
✔️ Know thyself. Some people respond well to financial pressure. Others fold. Some people like a hard-driving environment and others loathe it. Which are you?
✔️ Even if you hate your day job, once it’s time to resign and move on, you will be nervous. There will some part of you that is anxious and scared half to death. It’s normal and it has happened to all of us.
Need more? Email me: https://causeyconsultingllc.com/contact-causey/
Transcription by Otter.ai. Please forgive any typos!
Hello, hello and welcome to today’s episode of the Causey Consulting podcast. I’m your host Sara Causey and I’m also the owner of Causey Consulting, which you can find online anytime. At Causey Consulting llc.com. beginning of March, I recorded an episode about making the price leap. I talked about how the first big leap is transitioning from a corporate employee into a full time self employed business owner or solopreneur. The next thing that comes is when your business is surviving, but you want to take it to thriving. And I got some viewer mail from that episode asking, Hey, we understand that you don’t work with Warner printers, people that are pre revenue. But would you be willing to at least record a podcast episode with your thoughts on that first big leap? So the answer to that question is yes. Again, I don’t personally as a coach, work with people that are pre revenue, or that are daydreaming at their cubicle thinking that they might someday want to open a business. But I’m happy to provide some insight on the podcast. Full disclosure and disclaimer here. There are a lot of different pathways to successful entrepreneurship, I do not claim in any way shape, or form that my thoughts and my experiences on how to go from point A to point B, how to go from being a corporate employee into being full time self employed, it’s the only way it’s the best way, I make no claims in that direction whatsoever. All I can do is tell you about my opinions and experiences, what worked for me and what didn’t take as much of it or as little of it as you see fit and use it or file it away in your memory for later if you think it will be helpful. If you’re a frequent listener, then I’m sure you already know the basics of my story. I had a first iteration of self employment that did not go as planned. But I did everything right, I’m using air quotes here, I did everything right. I saved up a bunch of money, I made sure that I had a line of credit, I did all kinds of research and preparation, I got as ready as I possibly could, before I jumped off the cliff. And even with all of that preparation and due diligence, my parachute still did not open. And one of the things that I’ve learned is that everybody handles financial stress and financial pressure a bit differently. I mean, I have friends who are entrepreneurs and business owners, that will tell you quite candidly, if they had saved up a bunch of money and had a robust line of credit, they would have been worthless, they would have sat on the couch binge watching Netflix, or playing video games or sleeping until the money ran out. And then they would get motivated to get out there and sell to get out there and hustle to get out there and close deals or to test and beta test and whatever. But like while they had financial security, while there was money in the bank to pay the bills, they wouldn’t have wanted to do any work, they would have just wanted to have like a paid vacation on their own dime. I’m not natured that way. For me that the financial stress and the financial pressure of dammit, this has to work like I’ve only got X number of dollars in savings, and it can only float me for X amount of time. And I don’t want all of it to dry up and blow away which unfortunately, in my case is exactly what happened. Now, one thing I’ve never publicly said before is my expectation was that I wouldn’t really have to float myself for very long. So yes, I had this pot of money saved up and I had this line of credit. But deep down I just really didn’t think that I would need to use very much of it. In my mind, I going into it leaving the corporate job and jumping off the cliff. I thought okay, realistically, I will probably have to float myself for two, maybe three months at most, then I’ll have deals that close I’ll have checks coming in, I’ll be getting paid, I can pay myself back whatever I’ve deducted out of savings or anything that I’ve had to charge up on a on a business credit card. I’ll pay all that back and then I’ll have some leftover and the business will become a little more profitable with each passing quarter and I’ll be fine. Like in my mind deep deep down. I never expected that I would have to float myself for any prolonged period of time. And then when I finally did get my first deal to close, it was something that was lower level for not a lot of money. And I will never forget driving to the bank to put the check in. And I felt so hollow. You know, it was like this very strange dichotomy of feeling relief that finally a cheque had come in. I knew that it was possible to get a deal closed in this business, and I knew that I would at least have some money, which was better than no money. But I thought, why has it taken so long? Why does it feel like a Pyrrhic victory like this is not at all going the way that I thought it was going to go. But yet I know other entrepreneurs that they just started with a wing and a prayer, they jumped off the cliff and the parachute open and it worked out for them. Or they didn’t have two nickels to rub together when they started their business. And they got up and they hustled, and they did what they needed to do. And they became a success story. I’ve known other people that did what I did, they saved up money, they did their research, they got a line of credit, and they made it. So it’s like for any potential scenario you can look at in making that first leap. There are people that can say they did it this way or that way. And they succeeded. And likewise, they’re probably for you. I hate to be dismal here. But for every one person that made the dream come true doing it some particular way. There’s probably 10 or 12 others that failed and had to go back to the drawing board, or had to go back to corporate America. After I came out of my depression, and my funk and my dark night of the soul, and I started thinking like, Okay, if it’s a big scary, hairy, if, if I ever wanted to try this again, what might that look like? What could I do differently? What what things worked well, and what things didn’t? Like, just hypothetically speaking, if I were to want to maybe sort of kind of do this again, how could it play out differently. And for me, that financial stress and financial pressure component of it was huge. I knew that I did not want to have a repeat of that scenario happen in my life, I knew that piece of the puzzle had to be different. So I kept my corporate job for a while, even though there were days when I wanted to just like bang my head against the wall. And I was like, what, what am what am I even doing? I kept the corporate job, and I strategized, I really thought about things. And I move the puzzle pieces around in my mind, I didn’t just say, Alright, I’m miserable. So To hell with it, I’m just going to jump off the cliff again and hope the parachute opens, I was strategic. Now I did not do as much like planning and pre planning this time around, I did some planning. And then I worked up my courage and went into testing and beta testing. And you may have heard me tell you guys before, not to skip that phase. See, the first time around, I didn’t do that, I felt like there would be too much of a conflict of interest, I was essentially going to do for myself, that same type of work, I had been doing it staffing agencies like I was going to go from working at third party staffing agencies where I was not happy and didn’t feel like a good cultural fit. And just essentially start my own staffing company where I could be a cultural fit, I could be happy, I could work with flexibility, there was just too much potential conflict of interest there. And I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to really test that without potentially getting myself into hot water. So I didn’t. And this time around, I thought, No, you’re going to have to come up with something different. You need to look at your skill set, think about what are some other things that you could do to make a living, and that you could test and beta test with no conflict of interest, no drama, no worries about the corporate job coming back and saying, Well, you know, in your spare time, what kind of little hobby job do you have here? Well, none of your business is not anything that affects you. And during that time of testing and beta testing, even though there were days when it was easier said than done, I really worked on not taking it personally, if something didn’t work out. If I had a training module that I was testing out, and it didn’t, it didn’t really hit the right notes, or it wasn’t helping the client in the way that I thought it should have. It was getting misinterpreted in some way, then I would go back to the drawing board and make changes to it until it was right and it was conveying the correct message. It was of help to the person. And I’m really grateful that I didn’t skip that step this time around. But also, you know, in conjunction with that I had the job I had the paycheck I had the corporate benefits. And even though I won’t lie to you and say that it was a big sexy paycheck, it certainly was not it was enough that I was getting by. So I didn’t have this like sort of damage. CLES hanging over my head about money. Again, some people need that they need that pressure, they feel driven by it, it excites them, it motivates them and keeps them from laying on the couch all day having a Netflix Bender, but like, I’m not wired that way. I’m a recovering type A personality and a recovering perfectionist, I’m much better than I used to be. But there is still that, you know, edge to my personality that’s driven, that’s motivated, that wants to make sure that the client has a job well done that makes sure that you know, I stay active, and I keep my mind sharp I, I cannot imagine sitting in front of the idiot box 20 473 65 like, your brain would turn into such mush from all the nonsense and propaganda and so called reality TV that’s on there. That’s just not for me. So in other words, I don’t need financial stress hanging over my head in order to keep me motivated to work. I enjoy working because I enjoy working and I enjoy staying active. I like problem solving. I like moving the chess pieces around in my mind. And I feel like not only is your physical health and well being important, as you think about your longevity, you think about what your what you want your elderly or twilight years to look like you want to still be healthy and, and be able to do what you want to do in those later years. Like your mental health is also really important to making sure that you stay sharp and alert and you challenge your brain and, and keep it plastic that’s so important. And sometimes people forget me, because we can’t see our brain. Sometimes we forget just how important it is to exercise your mental health as well. So I don’t I don’t need to worry that I’m not going to be able to pay a bill in order to work, I’m going to do that anyway. And not having that stress, not having that pressure not having that fear. This time around made a huge difference for me. So a couple of pieces of general advice that I would give again, just from my experiences, and my perspective, you need to know what your tolerance level for risk is? Are you the type of person that needs the financial stress? Do you feel like you need some kind of external pressure to get you motivated and get you energized? Or are you someone like me, that external financial pressure makes you want to poop your pants you feel anxious and immobile. When you’re in that situation, instead of being a good closer, you turn into a bad closer and you’re just freaked out all the time? Know thyself that that’s a very important thing that you need to suss out before you make the first big leap. The second thing, no matter how uncomfortable or impatient you may be feeling, don’t skip that testing and beta testing phase, that initial time to collect data and really determine Okay, is this business idea viable? Is it going to be able to sprout wings and fly? Or is it going to jump off the cliff and go into the Grand Canyon, and then you’re going to hear a splat. If you can know that ahead of time, and either move in a different direction, or make some needed modifications or just scrap it and decide to do something else altogether. That is such amazingly valuable Intel, having that Intel ahead of time so that you can do what you need to do or not do something not put your you know, tender little Paul into a bear trap and get it cut off. That that’s huge. I mean, there’s there’s no way for me to overstate the value of having that knowledge ahead of time, that that in and of itself could be the one thing that separates out people who succeed from people who go splat, having that data ahead of time to be able to make some type of coherent decision on whether your business model even makes sense. Are you going into a market that’s super crowded and bloated? Are you going to need some kind of degree or certification? Are you going to need to have some kind of you know, celebrity or or influencer endorsement to even get started, you know, depending upon what field you’re going into, it might be worth it to look into those things. Another thing that’s very important to me is being able to pick and choose who I work with and to make changes if necessary. If I get into a situation with someone, and I realize it’s not going to work out perhaps they gave me deceptive information during the intake call. Perhaps they’re not as motivated as they pretended to be or thought that they were at the beginning. You know what’s the best way to be able to amicably and peacefully part ways. You don’t want to go into any business expecting failure and getting your mindset calibrated towards flakes, weirdos, creepy zoids, etc. You just want to know that you have freedom to choose who you work with and who you don’t. That’s something that I hear across the board. It does not matter what industry or line of work, someone is coming from, whether they’re a creative, they’ve been in sales and marketing, they’ve been in staffing and recruiting, they’ve been in accounting and finance. When I talk to people who are solopreneurs, or freelancers, or they have a small business, they wanted more control, they wanted more control over their schedule over who they worked with over how they worked over their methodology. You don’t want to turn around and recreate your own personal hell, in your own business. Because that’s it a distinct experience. It’s one thing if you plug in, in a corporate job, and you’re like, Oh, God, I shouldn’t have come here this place, because it was misrepresented. versus when you create that environment, yourself and your own company, you know, when you’re working for yourself, and you’ve created an environment that you detest, it’s kind of like, no matter where I go, there I am. If you get sucked into a bad corporate job, you can stay there for a while, find another job that you hope is better, and then buzz out. But when you’ve started your own company, and it becomes a hell on earth for you, that’s a really distinct and unique set of problems. I don’t wish it on anybody having gone through it myself, you know, and so I want you to be thinking about these things before you ever even take the plunge. And that also, I believe, is another benefit to testing and beta testing. I know I’m extolling the virtues of that a lot. But as I told you before, I don’t think I can overstate how valuable it is, when you’re doing that testing, it helps you to understand your own work style, it helps you to get clarity over how you want to show up in your business who you want to invite in who you don’t want to invite in. And that knowledge is so powerful, because the way that you are working at your corporate job right now, some of that may be due to the way you’re forced to work by your boss or by the corporate structure by whatever hours you’re being made to keep. That’s like I have a web developer who does work for me, you know, very often at like two or three o’clock in the morning, I don’t care, it doesn’t matter to me in the slightest when she does the work. I know that she does exemplary work. And I know that anytime there’s an issue, it’s going to be taken care of quickly. And in a way that’s very professional and well done. But you know, in a corporate job, she might have to be sitting at a desk somewhere from nine to five, or she may have to be trapped at her desk at home during core business hours so that she can hop on a zoom call. Now she’s free to work at whatever time that she wants. And and nobody cares, because she’s really good at what she does. And so it doesn’t matter to most of her customers, whether she’s working at 2pm, or 2am. So you may find as you’re building your business, and you’re doing this testing phase that left to your own devices, you may not want to work in the same style, or the same manner that you have been at your corporate job. And you don’t want to paint yourself into a corner where you have to. So like if you’re not a morning person, you’ve been having to get up early so that you can commute and drive into the job. Or they want you to start working at 730 in the morning, dammit, I gotta be sitting there ready to go but in seat because I’m going to have a damn zoom call at eight in the morning. You know, if that’s not your thing, then you may want to be able to push your schedule back so that instead of starting work at 8am, maybe you don’t start work till noon, you’re going to have more options. Again, depending to some degree on what kind of business you’re thinking of running, you’re going to have more flexibility by and large than you would at a company. And by testing, getting to know yourself better, you’ll be able to hone in on the way that you want to work so that you’re not if you’re not a morning person, and you don’t want to work with other people that are you don’t want to have clients that are going to start harassing you at 8am sharp every day, you can begin to attract other people that are flexible and repel the morning people that are going to start hounding you, you know, at eight or nine o’clock in the morning if you’d rather be asleep at that time. The final thing I will say about this is no matter how prepared or unprepared you are, how much research you’ve done, how much testing you’ve performed, how many sales that you’ve closed, how many clients you’ve acquired, how many checks that you’ve cashed during your initial ramp up phase, mark my words on this when The day comes that it’s time for you to say goodbye to the corporate job and step full time into your business freelancing gigging career solopreneur ship well, however you’re structuring it. When that day comes that you have to tender your resignation and say goodbye, you are going to be scared, shitless and nervous, you may have a panic attack, you may have sweaty palms, you may be fidgety, you may have a knot in your stomach and feel like you’re gonna barf everywhere. It’s normal. Everybody has experienced that, if anybody tries to play it cool. I would bet money that they were lying. You know, even if you were tremendously relieved, like you felt a tidal wave of happiness after it was over, just that act of having to go into the boss’s office or you know, with everything being digital, and in quarantine, now having to call him or her on the phone, send them an email, whatever the case may be. When you’re having to do the actual act of resigning from the corporate job to go fully 100% on your own. You are going to be scared, anxious and nervous. That is completely normal. Again, I would caution you against listening to somebody who’s like, Oh, very easily for me, I was just so calm, cool and collected bullshit. More than likely that person is lying and just trying to play trying to play the hard role. Like I’m just so bad ass. No, we we’ve all been there. And we’ve been scared to death when when the day came. My friend Ryan has a great analogy. Like he said, it’s like leaving a cruise ship. Like even though you didn’t like the cruise, you felt like the trip sucked. The cruise ship still had, you know, functioning plumbing, it had beds, it had food, it had water, everything was functional. And you knew that the cruise ship was doing just fine. And so you’re going to leave the cruise ship to get into a rowboat or a canoe and pray to God that you can navigate through the waters and survive it. And and that’s a terrific analogy. I couldn’t come up with anything better. I mean, that that is so spot on to exactly how it feels. So even if you had an A hole boss that didn’t treat you well, you didn’t like the company, you were not a cultural fit. It’s you’re still going to feel nervous. And even if you liked everybody, if it’s like, hey, it’s nothing personal. This place was great. The job was great. My boss is awesome. Everyone is supportive and cool. I just I’m ready to take the plunge and go out on my own. Or I’m tired of a restrictive schedule, you know nothing against you guys. But I need a more flexible schedule. I want to work at two in the morning, not two in the afternoon, and nothing personal, but I gotta go, you’re still gonna feel nervous. You may still have a panic attack. Like this last time, when I was getting close. And I knew I’m like, man, I got maybe a week, two weeks left in me tops before I’m gonna have to roll. I started to sweat. I started to feel like my heart was gonna beat out of my chest. I mean, I was super nervous. And so I called my best friend. His nickname, by the way is Johnny favorite. The only reason that I haven’t brought that up before is because I so often use like john doe or john q public as pseudonyms for people in podcast episodes and be like, Dude, come on, what is it with you in that name, but that that is his nickname. So I’m just putting that out there. So when I talk about my best friend, Johnny, you’ll have some frame of reference. So I call Johnny up. And I’m like, man, I think I think the times drawing nigh, I think I’m about to the point where I’m gonna have to blow this popsicle stand and go full time into my business. And I’m starting to freak the EFF out. And he was like, Okay, well, you you knew this was coming. I mean, this is not a surprise to you. You’ve been planning and doing your testing and feathering your nest, like, You’re, you’re prepared for this. It’s not like you’re just ripping a band aid off all of a sudden. And I said, Yeah, that’s true. But like now that it’s here. I can feel in my bones that the time is getting close. I’m scared, like, I’m starting to freak out. And he said, Is it because it’s all getting real? And I said, Yeah, it’s it’s getting really real. And I’m just like, I’ve got the sweats. I feel panicky, I know this is normal. I just like I need a safe space to freak out. I just I need somebody that I know, cares about me and loves me unconditionally, to just kind of sit on the other end of the phone. And let me have a panic attack about it so that I can just, you know, be in a comforting presence until the panic subsides. And he said something to me, that was very insightful, but also unexpected, particularly in the direction that it turned in. And I recommend just as a slight digression here. You know, it’s good in your life, if you can have a friend who kind of challenges you a little bit, they support you, they love you, they care about you. But they’re also willing to challenge you a little bit, they give you some stuff to think about. They’re they’re not sycophantic in the way they support you, you know, they, they want to really see you do better, and grow as a person. And I’m, I feel very lucky to have Gianni in my life, because he’s very much that type of friend. So he says to me, you know, that that phrase that people will say, if only I had known, I’m like, yeah, and so, in my mind, I’m thinking that he’s about to say something, you know, critical of entrepreneurship, like, if only I had known, I would have stayed at the job a little bit longer. And he said, here’s the thing, Sarah, like, you do know, you’re not in a position where you can say, if only I had known, you know exactly what your life is going to be like, if you stay at that corporate job. Three months from now, six months from now, a year from now, you already know, you don’t have to sit there with your head and your hands, you know, rubbing your temples going, Oh, God, if only I had known like you do know, you might be taking a step in the unknown, by going full time into your business and allowing that to be the primary way that you make your money. But if you stay at that corporate job, you literally do already know what your life is going to be like into the foreseeable future. And that helped my panic to start to decrease because I’m like, dammit, as usual, he’s right. Like, he he’s very insightful about things like that. He’s pretty damn insightful in general. And I was like, yeah, that’s that’s it, man. If I if I stay, I know exactly what things are gonna be like, and it’s gonna be like, same do two different day if I if I stay in this job. And that really helped me when the time did come about a week or two later after that phone call. You know, yes, I was nervous. And it was uncomfortable. But I did it. I felt the fear. And I did it anyway. And I knew that I was making the right decision. And after it was over with and the dust settle, and I was just free. Like, I felt so good. In fact, I played that song, I’m free to do what I want any old time. Like I loved it. I was like, Yes, I’m so glad that I didn’t chicken out. I’m so glad that I didn’t just keep like trying to push myself to stay there past the sell by date, like I did the right thing at the right time. So even though you may feel nervous, you may feel scared. And in fact, what am I saying you’re gonna feel nervous, you’re gonna feel scared, when the time is right. Like, you can feel the fear and do it anyway. I guess maybe the only caveat I will give you around that is, if you feel like you’re rushing it. If you feel like it isn’t, like down deep in your gut, you feel like it isn’t the right time, maybe you need to stay at the job for another month or two and stack some more cash. That’s okay. There’s no reason to rush the decision. When the time is right, and you need to go on to a greener pasture, I really think you’ll know and you can get your ducks in a row and get everything lined up properly. So to wrap this up, and condense it down a bit. Know thyself. Before you ever ever, ever, ever, ever even get into this on a serious level? Do some thought and some meditation work about pressure, financial pressure and stress? And how much motivation do you need? Are you someone that needs external motivation applied to you? Or do you have internal motivation? You know, how much financial wiggle room do you have? Do you need to stay somewhere and make more money for a while and postpone entrepreneurship? Or are you setting pretty already. The second thing is for the love of God, do whatever testing and beta testing that you can. Don’t get yourself into any hot water where a non compete might be involved. If you need to talk to your attorney to make sure that you have good legal insight before you do it, then it’s time and money well spent to protect yourself. But if you are for sure in a situation where you can test and beta test and refine, really make sure that you’re doing appropriate market research that is beyond worth its weight in gold, that that in and of itself can be the thing that helps you succeed, or know if you’re about to fail so that you can make a course correction. And last but not least, if you know that the time is right to hit the escape hatch, you’re scared. You’re nervous, you know that you’re doing the right thing, but you’re just panicky and sweaty. We’ve all been there. It’s normal, and it’s by no means anything to beat yourself up about. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please share it. If you haven’t already. Take a quick second to subscribe to this podcast and leave a review for us on iTunes. Bye for now.