I worked in corporate America for over 15 years before starting my company ezClocker. Making a decision to go all in has been one of the hardest and most rewarding experiences of my life.
I turned my side hustle into my full-time job.
Since leaving my corporate 9-5, I get up every morning excited to work and start my day, BUT don’t get me wrong… not every day is magical and I’ve had my share of panic attacks, especially when I started working on ezClocker full time without pay. I would be working one day and suddenly start thinking “OMG, I don’t have a stable job! What happens if this startup thing fails? What happens if I run out of money?” and my heart would start pounding so hard I could barely breath. I would take a deep breath, calm myself down and if that didn’t work I would give myself a pep talk about how I need to believe in myself and how I still have enough money to last me to X months so stop worrying and get back to work – and like that the panic attack would stop. Fun stuff!
We all have a romantic vision of leaving our 9-5 and working on our side hustle full-time.
Most of us also have a less romantic, fearful vision of what that might actually look like when it finally happens.
I remember John Lee Dumas on his daily podcast EOFire saying most people have this fear that if they don’t succeed in their venture, one day they might end up under a bridge homeless sitting next to a fire roasting a rat. It’s a funny statement but it’s true.
We all have a variation of that picture in our heads when thinking about quitting our jobs. In reality that’s not the case because you will find a way to survive and provide for you family. Fear is a normal human instinct, but it shouldn’t prevent you from achieving your dreams.
When you find the courage and finally make the jump to entrepreneurship there are a lot of adjustments you have to make when transitioning from employee to entrepreneur.
Here are the 3 things that will happen when you make your side hustle a full-time business.
#1. You’ll learn time management like never before.
I was attending a fireside chat event one day with broadcast journalist Soledad O’Brien and she was telling the audience how she had a hectic schedule when she worked at CNN. She’d wake up at 4 a.m. every day to be at the studio before 6 a.m. and wouldn’t be home until 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. After spending time with her family and doing chores, she got to bed around 11 p.m. Although that schedule was crazy, she told us, it was still a schedule which she followed and didn’t have to create or think about.
Now that she works on her own media production company, she can set her own rules, BUT she also has the responsibility to set her own priorities for the day and schedule. This, it turns out, is sometimes harder and quite overwhelming.
When I heard O’Brien make that statement, it was like she was talking directly to me. When I used to be an employee projects already had deadlines, team meetings were scheduled on my calendar, and every day I came in and left around a certain time.
In other words, I had a routine.
Working on my own company full-time, I have the flexibility to arrange my day as I wish but with it comes greater responsibility. Am I focusing on the right things? Are any of the 10 tasks I finished today moving my business forward?
To help me with these struggles, I picked up a book titled 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management by Kevin Kruse, it has some great tips that I started to implement, e.g., using my calendar to plan out goals and work on the most important tasks earlier in the day.
#2 You’ll feel lonely.
Being an entrepreneur can sometimes be lonely especially if you’ve worked most of your adult life as an employee. You don’t know many other entrepreneurs and most of your friends are still employees.
To solve this, you need to build your tribe, your support team of mentors and like-minded people who will support you through this journey and give you advice. You need to surround yourself with people who are experienced and have been on the path you inspire to take. To find these mentors/experts look for incubators or entrepreneur centers in your city.
One free valuable resource is SCORE! The SCORE organization is a network of volunteer business mentors providing free advice. For me, I joined the Dallas Entrepreneur Center where I meet with mentors on a regular basis.
In addition to great mentors, you need to surround yourself with the right people. When I was an employee I noticed every time I had lunch with co-workers that we ended up complaining about work or management which at the time may have made me feel better but it didn’t help me grow. So, I started networking at events outside of work where I met some fantastic people and got feedback on ideas I had. It was like discovering a whole new world I didn’t know existed and it was all in my local community, I just had to go out and find it.
#3. You’ll be stressed out! (but you’ll manage it).
When I worked my corporate 9-5, I didn’t have to worry about how the marketing ads were doing or who would handle support. We had teams that handled that work. I just had to worry about my own tasks and projects assigned to me.
n startup-land, especially in the beginning, you play ALL roles. You wear the support hat when talking to customers, the marketing hat when trying to figure out why your ads are not working and the CEO hat when talking to investors or potential partners… all in addition to juggling your personal and family life.
This of course can be stressful and overwhelming.
To help with my stress when I got started, I brought my monthly expenses down to the minimum so I could estimate how long my money will last before I needed to get a side job. I then put myself on a routine of waking up every day around the same time in the morning even on weekends so my body would be in a routine. This allowed me to focus on ezClocker. Then for my business, I would plan my goals for the week and create a list of what I wanted to accomplish every day. Having goals and a plan is essential. I also took breaks during the day where I either did a workout or walked in the park and listened to a podcast to de-stress and re-energize.
Transitioning from employee to entrepreneur is a huge challenge but with the right mindset and plan you will discover strengths and capabilities that you never thought you had. A great quote from David Viscott says “If you have the courage to begin, you have the courage to succeed.”
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