Today’s guest post is courtesy of Jessica Oman, one of the most fabulous guests from the Start Something Telesummit who has so graciously decided to share her story here. She tells the true story of how scary it was for her to start her business, to commit to doing the one thing she does well, and shows off her storytelling chops in the process. Read on!
How I Overcame Commitment-Phobia to Launch My Entrepreneurial Journey
Here’s a little-known fact about me: I’m a commitment-phobe.
Actually, maybe it’s a totally obvious fact. Having a party on Saturday? I’ll respond “maybe” on your Facebook event page. Want me on your dragonboat team? Sure, but only as a spare paddler. Thirty day fitness challenge? Yeah, right. I’m lucky if I get through the first week (where’s my wine?).
So when I decided to start my own business, you can probably guess that I wasn’t all in.
The story goes like this: I was in a job I sort of enjoyed, but couldn’t make progress in. I was being paid way below market value. I felt under-appreciated. I had no power to create or improve systems to deliver a better product to the customers. And, I couldn’t use all of the skills I’d spent six years and $40,000 in university tuition (for three degrees) acquiring. It was frustrating, and I had to do something.
I’d thought about starting a business for a while – something that combined my business education with my strong writing skills and allowed me to have complete control over my work while only working with the clients I wanted. But there were two problems: 1) I couldn’t commit to what I specifically wanted to do, and 2) I only had $170 to fund this new venture, whatever it was going to be.
So I did what one who can’t commit to something does: I started advertising on Craigslist for gigs as a “writer and editor for individuals and small businesses”. I didn’t quit my job, of course. I used my $170 to register my business name, get a set of $5 business cards and buy a piece of software that I don’t even use anymore.
It didn’t take long to get my first gig – and it was a big, nasty one. A $3000 project that I thought was my ticket to entrepreneurial freedom. But I let the client take advantage of my willingness to be helpful, and in the end neither of us were happy. I waffled. Should I keep going? Do I suck at this?
In the story you read when you sign up for my newsletter, you read about how I “never looked back” after launching my business. That’s true – but the official launch didn’t happen until three months after this first hairy, difficult project. That’s right; I spent three months going back and forth about whether I should start a business that, today, does nothing else but teach other people how to start businesses!
So believe me, if you’re thinking about starting a new company and you’re scared to commit, I get it. That was me, too. The thing that ultimately pushed me into entrepreneurship was simply this: the pain of staying at my job or looking for another one was greater than the pain of just quitting and getting on with what I really wanted to do.
When The Pain is Too Great, You Must Commit
This is what I always tell my clients now. When they’re unfocused, indecisive, or scared, I ask them to visualize the new bliss. What is life going to be like when you become an entrepreneur? If your business fails, is that worse than staying in your current situation? If it’s not – then do it. Start something.
It’s not that you can’t pivot once you’re in the throes of owning a business. It’s not that you can’t go back to a regular job if you want to or need to. It’s that while you’re doing this thing, you need to be all in if you want to experience all the success you envision today.
I used those Craigslist ads to learn more about the types of clients I wanted, so I could more clearly define them for myself and refine my business to serve them better. I’m no longer a “writer and editor for individuals and small businesses”. I’m a business planner who trains new entrepreneurs in health care, food, or service-based specialties to plan and launch successful and profitable small companies.
And you can guarantee I’m committed to that.