Cutting the corporate umbilical cord to pursue a new start-up is scary as much as it is liberating. For eight years I played the corporate game, managed to secure a senior role in a Fortune 500 company, and made a six- figure salary all before I was thirty. So what was I thinking, quitting my job to start my own business?
I always wanted to do it on my own. Passion and drive led me to early career success, however there always seemed to be something missing. I could never understand office politics nor could I play them well, and my vivacious, ambitious, six foot one personality didn’t always sit well in a male – dominated boardroom.
Forever craving the next project or challenge, it seemed to be a common theme throughout my career. Couple that with a self-fulfilling prophecy of ‘I can do it better than my boss’, and I was an overly confident go- getter, with a fundamental belief that something was wrong with her. I could never find the ideal job!
After eight short years as a corporate citizen, it dawned on me I wasn’t the bad soldier. I was simply not suited for service, and better positioned as an independent rebel –warrior, who would build her own allies on her quest for inspiration and success. So at age thirty I took the leap of faith, and was successfully running a new start-up.
Making the break has given me the intelligence and maturity to try anything in business, and also led me to accept a one- year Construction assignment in West Africa. The personal challenge associated with working in a third world country was just another step toward building my personal foundation, and quest for living powerfully.
There is no doubt many of you have been stuck just like I once was. You may even be there now – unsure whether adventure, and entrepreneurship is who and where you want to be. Well if you’re like me, and the story relates, it’s time to cut the cord! So here are some personal steps to help make it happen:
Trust Your Intuition
We often tend to make tough decisions based on a combination of our head, heart and gut. Too often we sit in one space more than the other, idling between the three indecisively. Trusting your intuition (gut feel) will allow the heart (your passion) and the head (logic – is this the right thing to do?) to follow. Start working on this alignment so you can make the break.
Keep Your Plan Simple
When you move from corporate to solo, your plan must be simple. Spending too many hours gruelling over a business plan (and all things associated), will muddle your mind and skew your intention. Answer these questions clearly and concisely:
Why have I made the decision?
What specific actions will I take in the first three months?
Who’s going to help me make it happen?
How will I know when I’m successful?
This will put you in good stead with a clear path. Follow these simple rules, and you won’t feel like your meddling in the abyss of uncertainty, with 1 million and forty nine things on your start-up ‘to do’ list.
Set up Your Network
You may be venturing solo, but you will never be successful on your own. If you’ve done your research in business, you’ll know making money when you first start out can be a real challenge. So you may as well accept it, and concentrate your efforts on how to make it happen. Don’t focus on the money, focus on building relationships!
If there was ever a time to social network, it’s during the early months. Utilize the entire social network series, expand yourself, engage and enrol people into your vision. Connect at a heart felt level, so they too can be inspired, and help you reach your goal.
Research groups, associations and similar projects that will accept you into their teams. Share your ideas with them, and others that are willing to collaborate. Similarly, don’t share your passion with people you know will bring you down. Choose your network and conversations wisely. Speak your vision, and walk your truth.
Control the Voice
Self -doubt will lead to self -destruction in entrepreneurship and start -ups. There’s no need to bash yourself with rambunctious motivational quotes, but it’s really important to monitor your voice. I refer to both your inner voice, and the one inside your head.
Steer, guide, serve and acknowledge the inner voice that allows you to flow your hearts desire. Meditation, Yoga and general health is integral here. By working on the subconscious mind and body, the mental chatter will naturally become more logical, giving you the ability to catch those negative thoughts nice and quick.
Celebrate Your First Win
When you’ve finally reached your first goal, pop that bottle of Moet and celebrate! Dip into your entertainment budget, and set up an event for those who helped along the way. Take the time to acknowledge your wins, and all those people that helped make it happen.
Buy people gifts, be specific with your feedback, and share with them a genuine exchange of your appreciation and gratitude. People naturally love being part of new beginnings. Publicly and privately commend your network, and you’ll have yourself a start- up team for life.
Setting yourself up to live and work your dream isn’t easy. If it were, everyone would do it. A great saying by Martin Luther King represents the courage required to take these great steps. ‘Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.’
The saying is pivotal in your journey toward start-up and entrepreneurship. Making a decision, pursuing a dream, creating change, whatever it is that pulls you forward to want to be better, greater, or more enriched requires you to take the leap of faith. Do it, and you’ll land right where you need to. Trust me…I did.
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you’ve imagined” Henry David Thoreau
Ana is a Coach, Consultant & Speaker. She works with individuals & groups to align consciousness with innovation, leadership and social responsibility. Also an athlete, Ana has played sport across most continents. She’s President/Co-Founder of a social impact program in Guinea West Africa, and is an advocate for young women and children aspiring to dream.