I have never been happier since leaving my so-called corporate life and becoming an entrepreneur. I have also never been hungrier.
Going through some photos, I found this one taken on the Saturday after I got laid off back in June 2009. It's amazing how happy and calm I look considering I had just finished packing up my belongings from the cubicle where I practically lived for the last year and half. I actually loved working there - the thrill of the job pushed me learn new skills and work harder than I ever had.
Moments before this picture was taken, my hands were shaking and I had tears in my eyes. Frantic and resentful, I was packing every last file and office supply into boxes as fast as I could. I knew I'd need to hustle to keep the beach apartment I had just moved into right before the lay-off and had madly fallen in love with. I felt frantic yet assured I could get new work before August rent was due. Sadly peeling the picture of my new place off my padded cubicle wall, I vowed to work hard to keep that apartment throughout the rapidly shifting employment situation (ha, nice euphemism, eh?). Snap, picture - the camera must have caught me in that thought.
I had severance to last me for the next month and half, and I used part of it to buy a computer and desk for my new home office (you gotta spend money to make money, I believe that). I was committed to trying out my own thing and knew I had to take a leap of faith and commit 100%. Being an entrepreneur is downright scary, especially first starting out. The hardest part is consistently having money in the bank. When my steady retainer-based income didn't cover expenses (which was the case for three months) I had to rely on multiple freelance projects to make up the difference. As a result I couldn't go grocery shopping until I got paid, and I was hungry sometimes. I put my student loans on hold, used my credit cards to pay bills and ate every free meal I could at my parents' houses (thanks Mom and Dad!).
But, the hard work and uncertainty is paying off. I am meeting amazing people, going to incredible events and am really living my dream. I have three new clients I just started working with and another one likely to sign next week. I'm interviewing my first potential hire tomorrow. Since I last wrote, I entered a business plan competition, organized a panel I'm moderating next month, traveled to San Jose for a conference and wrote a bylined article for Environmental Leader. I also choreographed and performed a modern dance piece to "System of a Down" (which I will share once I have the good version) and recorded this (admittedly cheesy) video about CraterCom. When I say all that it sounds like a lot, but for some reason I almost constantly feel like I'm not doing enough and I should be working more. The vicious guilt complex - never helpful. Some of the best advice is to get out of your own way.
By just having two clients in the beginning, I was able to focus on doing a quality job and building up a base of work. I also got to apply my marketing and PR strategies to my own business. I had work samples to show my new prospects and have built great relationships so far that are really helping my business. Now I am frankly scared again about the new workload, but I'm meeting with someone tomorrow who I may hire to help me manage it. This is my update and I will keep you posted - pun intended:) I wonder what the story is for other entrepreneurs, especially those that started their businesses after being laid off. Thoughts?