Tales of a Former Corporate Warrior“I hate my job!”

“I know I’m meant to do more.”

“I need to be the one calling the shots.”

“I will never be paid what I’m really worth. I make my company millions of dollars, but I only see a fraction of that.”

I’ve heard at least a couple of these statements from a number of people, as well as said a couple myself. It seems I hear this stuff more and more.

Perhaps you have made one of these comments yourself (even if only privately). On the surface, these sound like pretty strong statements. They sound like someone ready to take action to change their circumstances.

Hmm…

Not so fast.

I happen to know the passion for taking action does not always match the passion of the words. I know this because, although I never got to the point of hating the last job I had before becoming a full-time entrepreneur, I was someone thinking (and selectively saying) I was meant to do more and probably wouldn’t be paid what I was truly worth while working for someone else.  

I made those comments over a year prior to me leaving my corporate job. And even when I left, I did not have this solid, completely thought-out plan for entrepreneurial success.

I just knew I needed to make it work. I almost did not leave though. I almost applied for another job less than a month after I left. There were days during the early times after I quit, that I spent too much time on the couch (and not with my laptop).

I cannot tell you how many times I questioned whether I did the right thing. Hey, I’d hit six figures the year before I left my job. I had great benefits, an expense account, more flexibility than many (I was able to work from home at least once a week and could typically schedule client meetings that worked well for me as well as for them). I had an office with an impressive view. I was living the life…until I wasn’t.
The great recession of 2008 happened, and it especially hit financial services companies hard. The following year brought a number of layoffs. I was spared, but my boss who hired me and who I really liked, was not. That led to two more bosses in 2 ½ years.

During that time base salaries were cut throughout the entire company, some of which were considerable. Another unwelcomed change.

Friction and a growing disconnect between the sales and service teams developed. Travel demands increased. Expectations were questioned more (you want me to manage my $400M+ book of business, grow it, do unreasonable things to keep the peace with clients and advisors that generate more headaches than revenue, play nice with certain whiny colleagues, and do it with a big smile on my face…no problem).

This may sound pretty familiar to some of you. While this was the last couple of years of my corporate career, it has been the last 10, 15+ for many. To that, I say “wow!” Although I’m not surprised. Fascinated, but not surprised.

Here is the thing: that kind of stress, lack of appreciation, political shenanigans, often long hours, and dreaming of making your grand (perhaps even dramatic) departure does not have to continue being your reality.

I know it may not seem like it, but you DO have choices. You CAN forge a different path for yourself. You can create a new normal that’s actually not normal at all, but kind of amazing.
That is, if you understand amazing requires a lot of work.

Probably more work than you’re doing now for your job, but in a way that fuels and inspires you a whole hell of a lot more. Work, that if you’re strategic about, will build such a solid foundation, that you’ll be able to fly off to Hawaii or the Mediterranean whenever you like, while most of your colleagues are writing yet another report or going through mind-numbing email.

Of course that email thing doesn’t necessarily change once you are working for yourself. You may even get more email. Yes, that IS possible!

If amazing, successful, calling your own shots, playing bigger, and making a difference the way only you can make it all looks the same to you, it’s past time to take action – different action. And although it would be nice, understand that none of the following are required for you to take the entrepreneurial jump:

  • Hundreds or even tens of thousands of dollars earmarked for your business (unless you’re investing in a major franchise). It doesn’t always take money to make money. It takes action, especially strategic, consistent action.
  • A book…I mean business plan. Sure you need a plan, but plenty of businesses have launched or grown without a formal business plan. Facebook was not only launched without a business plan. The social media behemoth managed to get major investment without one. I tell my clients they need a marketing plan before a full-fledge business plan. Figure out how people will find you and why they should care once they do. Please!
  • Fearlessness. Contrary to popular belief, being fearless is really a myth. No one is truly fearless. Yeah I said it! It sounds good. The thought makes us feel invincible and like there is nothing we cannot do. However, even once we prove this to ourselves, rarely is fear completely absent. The most successful have figured out how to move forward despite their fear. If you’re waiting until you have absolutely no fear to embrace business ownership, you will still be working your job in 2035. 

If you’re ok with fear, understand imperfection can actually be a good thing, realize the first quarter of this year is already a memory, and are ready to create or grow something amazing of your own, we should chat. 

You see, I’ve been where many of you are now, i.e. grappling with the decision of when to leave the job (because it’s no longer about should you leave; it’s a matter of when), perhaps juggling a side gig that you’d really like to be your main gig if you could just get to the point of it replacing your job’s income (hint: it doesn’t have to replace 100% of your income for you to say adios), or dealing with the negative thoughts that say you may not have what it takes to make it as a full-time entrepreneur. 

Yes, often those negative thoughts are crap. Sure, you could opt to believe I’m full of crap, but really? I say if you’re going to doubt something, doubt your doubts. Repeat that slowly as needed. 

What if you apply all your “what ifs” to the amazing possibilities vs. your fears? That’s one of the first steps to that action taking thing.