The Change from Employee to Entrepreneur

 
 
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What changed?  EVERYTHING that was normal for almost half of my life!  WOW!

As I awoke the day after I left the company - my home-away-from-home for over a decade, I had dreams of relaxing the entire summer - doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! I was looking forward to my mini retirement before fully embracing my new change!  For nothing more than...I deserved it!! But who was I really fooling? I am an engineer by trade, a manager of people for over 15 years and live for creating a process, seeing it come to fruition and witnessing people improve as a result of it.  Nevertheless, it had not yet dawned on me that, like every other change in my life, there was a process to fully embrace my new normal.  Despite the freedom I felt when leaving and the desire to scream it from the mountaintops, there were deeper emotions that were stirring.  The feelings of no control, anxiousness and bit of sadness were present.  I had to remind myself that yes I am independent, yes I am happy to be free of the mounting dislikes I had come to notice, yes I was happy to spend more time with my son....but yes, there were also transitional feelings that were real!  

I knew it, lived it and coached it, so of course the feelings were normal in a state of transition!  Though true, I had not yet accepted that this change was permanent.  I did not have a game plan beyond "do nothing."  I had definitely not let go of my vested emotions, commitment and years of service that were tied to my previous employer. I found myself in Phase 1 of my Transition:  The Ending.  As William Bridges said in the 1991, you must accept that something is ending before you can accept that something new is beginning.

Leaping from everything I had known for over 17 years, (including a steady paycheck) I stood staring at myself in the mirror when I finally crawled out of bed.  Would my of Sunday meal preps to tackle the week of swim, karate, and bedtime routines remain the same? What would I do without jumping on a conference call on the way to work? or getting so much done, yet nothing on the to-do list?  My normal was shaken at its core!  It was up to me to create a plan, lean on my support system and move forward to my new normal--- my renewed reality of entrepreneurship!

If you have made this leap of faith into your passion, gift and talent, then you can relate!  Change is not easy, but what we do know, is that once transitioned, we may get a momentary breather, but another bout of change is rounding the corner! This is important to check yourself on so that you do not remain in that first phase too long!  

The great news is that if you are planning your exit strategy while still gainfully employed, you have time to do a good amount of preparation, saving and networking.  If the change was unexpected, the first thing to do is to acknowledge that the change is real, then take a few moments to pause, reflect and craft a game-plan.

A few things to remember if, and when you take the leap:  Prepare, Plan & Pamper.

Prepare

  1. Maintain your strong network!  Move phone numbers to your personal phone and email.
  2. Draft a note of thanks for when you say good-bye.  
  3. Connect with those who have taken the same path and learn as much as you can from them on what pitfalls they encountered.
  4. Reconnect yourself with you strengths.  Ask those around you for two strengths and 1 opportunity area. Remember to ask them for examples so that you have a bit of context.
  5. Touch base with you financial planner to get a clear trigger date for when you must resume collecting a paycheck.
  6. Embrace the notion that you are taking a leap!  A leap on faith and your skills to hold you up as you follow your passion. 

Plan

  1. Research local assistance for the field you plan to pursue.  There are a great number of resources available including the Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Association, your affiliation groups such as professional, minority, community, etc.
  2. Declare a goal and assign yourself actions to achieve your goal.
    • Be specific:  What, when, who will support you and how.
    • Set  plans:  Quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily.  Always start broad, yet clear and narrow down to achievable nuggets.
  3. Find an accountability partner.  Not simply a friend.  You are seeking someone who is responsible, honest, has your best interest in mind.  You need someone who cuts to the chase without worrying about your feelings.  You want someone who can hold you accountable despite the excuses you will make every now and again!

Pamper

You deserve it! 

  1. Reflect on what you doing when you are at your best?  When you are smiling and in a free and clear place?  Then Do It!   Whether it is sitting on your deck, going to a bed and breakfast, getting a massage, going on a date night, having a solo night out on the town, or simply taking a walk - get it on the calendar NOW.

At the end of the day, the change from employee to entrepreneur is different for everyone who is brave enough to make the shift.  I applaud you and wish you the best in your endeavors!!  There will be twists and turns, but you got this!!!!  Take a deep breath and leap!  You are jumping by faith for a gift that you are passionate about.  You are armed with your skills, your personality, your years of experience and your support system.  Prepare what you can, learn as you go, and have fun in the process.  Change is never easy! AND if you are looking for a partner to help you navigate your transition, Call Me!    


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Lolita E. Walker is the founder of Walker & Walker Enterprises. She is a mother, process improvement specialist and change management expert.  She is the change management consultant who will partner with you, personally stepping through how to free your mind, manage your transitions, and embrace your change through acceptance and renewal. Her change management program results in self-discovery of the strengths that will drive your success, coaching that translates into increased communications with those depending on you, and a sustainable change map that drives clarity, confidence, ownership and action.  Learn more about her program by visiting https://www.lolitawalker.com