02 Apr How I Became a ‘Full-Time’ Entrepreneur
I’ve told you all before that alignment is key. I believe in omens. And I believe in the power of prayer. My journey to becoming a ‘full-time’ entrepreneur is not a story about me being brave enough to step away from a comfortable job with a decent salary to risk everything on my dream of finding better ways to communicate and connect brands and initiatives with the public.
Nope. That is not my story.
My story is one of prayer. It is one of fear. And certainly, it is one of determination. It is a story filled with omens and even a happy dance at my desk.
For months, I had been contemplating the idea of self employment. I had clients. I had money coming in. I had proposals waiting to be accepted. And I’d found success along the way while working my business in the wee hours before work, during my lunch breaks, and after work into the night. I had a grueling schedule. I stuck it out because I thought I had to. No one in my family or any of my friends had left their fulltime jobs that paid all of their bills and helped them live comfortably to pursue a dream. Who in the world did I think I was that I could do that?
Once I realized my job as a research analyst was not a good fit for me, the thoughts of becoming fully self-employed took over my mind. I thought about it constantly. The thoughts became so loud the only thing I could do to quiet them was to pray. So each time I dreamed of spending my time talking to media outlets or planning cool events instead of analyzing numbers and complex policy, I prayed. I asked Him to show me what to do. I asked whether I should stick it out at my current gig, find another job or become self-employed.
My dear friend Kamaria knew my struggle. She mentioned me to the owner of a public relations firm in Memphis. She gave the owner of the PR firm my resume and other important details about my work. At this time, I had just wrapped a yearlong education research project and my job had tasked me with doing research on the governor’s tax proposal. That tax policy project completely through me for a loop. I had spent 90 percent of my career learning, writing and researching public education – I didn’t know a thing about taxes or tax policy. I struggled with the research required for that report. Really struggled. That meant I prayed a lot more because I had to ask for strength and understanding, but most importantly, I had to do something to quiet my brain’s thoughts about entrepreneurship.
And then, one day it happened. The perfect culmination of events happened that led me to this point.
On Monday, April 8, 2013, I sat in my car for nearly 30 minutes and asked God to lead me in the right direction. The Friday before, I had just wrapped a very successful event and I was on a high. I asked for strength. I asked him to give me the knowledge and skills to do well at work. I asked him to allow others to receive me well. This was my usual morning prayer. Added to that was my typical prayer to quiet my brain: I asked him if I should stay, go, or step out on my own. On that day, I asked for a sign. I asked him to make it clear.
When I got to work that day, I had an awful meeting with my bosses about the governor’s tax proposal. At 10:30 a.m., I attended an Orleans Parish School Board Meeting. I got back to my desk around noon. Something told me to check the Times Picayune’s web site. I did. Gov. Bobby Jindal had just announced he was dropping his tax proposal. Yes! That meant the report I was working on would be canned. I did a happy dance at my desk. I sprinted to my boss’ office to share my good news. She seemed to be relieved too. I immediately thought this was a sign I was to stay at my job.
I got back to my desk. Something told me to check my personal e-mail. I did. The owner of the Memphis public relations firm wanted to fly me from New Orleans to Memphis to meet her staff. I knew this would lead to an employment offer. I thought, “Great! I’m not supposed to stay here; I’m supposed to go work in Memphis.” She asked for my information for flight and hotel accommodations. She also asked about my salary. I gave the appropriate information. I went on about my day as usual.
Around 4:30 p.m., I was called into my boss’ office. We had a heart to heart about my unhappiness and seemingly inability to focus on anything other than public education. She asked if I wanted to start on another research project. I declined. We made a decision in that meeting I would move on from the nonprofit. I decided it would be effective immediately. She decided to pay me for a month! What a blessing she was to me!
I hummed a song as I packed my desk. I had never been so happy to leave a place in my life. In fact, I knew the day I had to pack my desk was near – I had a printer paper box stashed underneath my desk. I put my belongings in it as I sang. I was overjoyed my time there had ended. I had agonized for months and months about this point. And it was finally over. I was free! In my mind, I was transitioning to Memphis and thinking about how I was going to work with my own clients knowing how demanding working for another public relations firm would be.
I checked my e-mail at 5:30 p.m. The owner of the public relations firm could not accommodate my salary requirements. She couldn’t even come close. It would have been a nearly $25,000 pay cut. There was no way in the world I was going to work that hard for that salary. It was at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, April 8, 2013, that I had received all my signs. It was at that exact moment I became a fulltime employee of myself.
It has NOT been easy. Some days I regret my decisions. I could have stayed at the nonprofit if I wanted. I could have agreed to work at a much lower salary. I second-guess myself all the time. I consider going back to working for others. And I sometimes think I’m crazy.
I hear that’s normal.
That’s my story, full of prayers, signs and a happy dance, just like I said. I’m not sure if I’m in the beginning, middle or end of my current chapter as an entrepreneur. I just know I’m supposed to be here right now. And I have to keep living to figure it all out.