I liken my start as an entrepreneur to learning to ride a bike.
When I started out with my public relations company serving clients in Montgomery County and Bucks County, I had a full-time job – my training wheels – and knew little about the road ahead as a small business owner.
I peddled along for the next 18 months doing both simultaneously, slowly easing off those training wheels as my client base grew. For me, keeping the full-time job meant security. It was a safety net. I couldn’t fall – or fail – financially.
Since I had few startup costs, my business was profitable the first year. Yet, the salary was not adequate to support myself and my family. I needed to keep peddling.
By January 2015 it was as if a light had switched on. Without really seeking it, more client work began pouring in. I had spent the last 11 months or so wondering if I would be peddling forever, but now was beginning to put the brakes on my full-time gig.
In retrospect, with business income that tripled year-over-year from 2014 to 2015, I probably could have taken the training wheels off sooner. The reason I didn’t? I needed to make sure the transition would be seamless. I had been laid off the year before (and while on maternity leave in early 2010) and did not want to be without solid, consistent income again.
Confidence throughout my evolution as an entrepreneur has always been most difficult. Not only believing in myself, but also knowing that my clients would continue enlisting my help with public relations, brand awareness, graphic design, social media and fundraising.
As much as I could, I squirreled away every dollar possible. While I knew very little about running a company, I realized and saw firsthand that every business has its ups and downs. Being on the receiving end of the downs, I was saving for a time when business was slow.
Except (thankfully) that has not happened. Each month trends better than the month before, or at least a bit better than the month and year prior.
In August 2015, I was still a bit shaky, at least from a confidence standpoint, but I knew it was now or never. I let go of the security I had clutched the last 18 months and stepped out on my own.
For two whole weeks I ran my business and was able to make good on my goal of picking up my daughter each day when school let out.
A colleague from a previous job shared that a mutual connection was looking to hire a marketing director. I interviewed with the owner of two franchised food locations, was hired on the spot and suddenly – without planning it – had the training wheels back on. What just happened?
The position was part-time, meaning I had some leeway from my previous 8-4:30 job in terms of meeting with clients and completing business-related tasks and duties during normal working hours.
Yet, within weeks I was finding it difficult to peddle along doing both. How had I managed a full-time job and a business, I kept wondering.
I pushed along, kept networking and continued enjoying the luxury of two incomes. By the end of 2015, I had
swapped my old wheels for a brand-new car that I purchased with cash and the trade-in of my 2007 Saturn Ion.
By spring 2016, managing my business and my part-time role became increasingly challenging. I cut my hours in half at the part-time position, but still fell short on time. If only I could add an hour or two to each day …
As summer began, I made the leap (again) and quit my job. This time, hopefully, for good. It’s been roughly three months of me running my business without training wheels.
I still have much to learn, but feel as if I’m riding along a bit smoother.
My business revenues for 2016 have already surpassed 2015. I’m projecting a 50 percent increase year-over-year from 2015 to 2016.
Once again, I’m finding myself short on time (it seems to be a constant theme in my life). Not to the degree it was when I worked another job, but I’m seeing how precious time is and how quickly it goes. Similar to riding a bike. One minute you see your child peddling along with training wheels and herky jerky movements and the next they’re out-riding you on a trail.