That Important First Step…
I’m on the verge of taking a big step and one that is very scary. Dear mum and dad, I’m not sure how to say this but, I’m going to become an entrepreneur. Big gasp of breath.
The decision is barely spoken and I can already hear the voices of self-doubt and criticism circling, questioning whether I’m capable of doing this and asking if I have the necessary skills or experience. What do I really have to offer the world? Surely I have something of value. Hmmm. Long pause. Do I?
Enter TurnPoint and their ‘9-to-Thrive’ business coaching retreat held in Ubud, Bali.
I could have taken this step months or even years ago, like the people I admire did when they decided to leave a career to create something more fitting their passions or purpose. I’m one of those people that had great intentions two and a bit years ago but got lost in the phase of transition without knowing how to start again in a world unfamiliar to me. I didn’t know what the first step was, let alone how to take it.
This is what motivated me to recently seek help. Not from a therapist but to others that had successfully navigated the gap between their old life as an employee and a new life as their own boss doing their own thing.
Lydia Lee of Screw the Cubicle runs the TurnPoint ‘9-to-Thrive’ 6-day retreats throughout the year.
She is a friend of mine so I already knew firsthand she was a firecracker who would help work with my strengths to build a business I love. I was eager (and a little nervous) to sign up.
Back to why I had to seek help in the first place. It’s not that I don’t have any skills and experience to offer, it’s just I don’t know how to articulate and share them in a new world that is outside the setting I am familiar with – a university. And I want to do something I really love this time round, not just 80% love.
A few years ago I experienced a (big) inner shift and realised I can’t do something I don’t believe in. I never did. I was just better at faking it back then and more able to make it work when it didn’t ‘work’ for me.
Now I can only be motivated to do the boring or tedious stuff (like emails) or the scary stuff (like asking for help or doing something for the first time) if the subject gets my engine revving.
Doing something just for survival or professional advancement is not enough anymore.
So I needed feedback in 2 areas: to find a viable business idea I would love, and help with building up confidence with entering a completely new and unknown industry where I would have to ‘sell’ myself and my skills. Double gulp.
Entrepreneurship is a new deal for me. I’m used to working in the supportive (albeit sometimes stressful) environment of a university where I had a team of people to get stuff done. I was a specialist there but starting a new business involves getting messy in all the aspects of business, not just the ‘thinking , writing and speaking’ parts. This idea scared me (and still does a bit) but I know the rewards are worth it.
Being my own boss holds the golden allure of getting to decide what work I do or don’t do, and getting to decide how I want to run my life and business. A worthy tradeoff to keep myself among palm trees.
My friends are all doing it, so why can’t I?
First I had to understand a bit more about myself and what I wanted to do next. My extended period of sabbatical did this for me. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Bali trying new activities, writing, reading, chatting and exploring the big ‘What Next?’ question. It has helped me understand what I’m passionate about, what I value, and has brought me to meet the people who inspire a sense of possibility that I too can create a business that meets my personal passions and a sense of bigger purpose in the world and makes a profit to sustain me doing it.
But exploring and hanging out in Bali was wearing thin, even for me. My feet and brain were itching to move again.
I was starting to get entrepreneur envy.
Envy is not a good look but it is incredibly useful. It comes to suggest we are ready to grow and whispers to us: ‘It’s ready to move on your goals’. The sabbatical of palm trees was boring my inner drive that wanted to achieve something ‘out there’ after all the ‘in here’ work I’d been doing’. When pools and palm trees get boring, you know it’s time to get to work.
Watching my friends all do it over the past couple of years, I had to conclude there was no good reason that I couldn’t also make this transition from employee to entrepreneur. I just need an injection of guidance and confidence to move into that new land.
That’s why signing up to a business course comes in handy. It takes you by the hand and (gently) forces the next step.
I’d been worrying that my previous work life as a university lecturer and researcher would be more of a burden than a strength, and couldn’t see how those skills could be used in the world of entrepreneurship.
All I needed to do was widen my perspective of what was possible and stop looking for reasons (excuses) to wait.
As our facilitator Lydia Lee guided us through brainstorming ideas together, I could start to see how my background and my innate personality actually positioned me very well to do something I love. Cue big sigh of relief!
I realised I wasn’t the only one that had doubts and moments (months) of confusion about what I was doing. These feelings are normal and not a reason to keep myself from starting.
9-to-Thrive helped me bring together the 3 threads – passion, purpose and strengths – that had been floating around separately in my head and through my plentiful notepads for the past few months. No more procrastinating. No more excuses. The time to act was now!
I was getting the distinct impression that I have been ready to do this for some time and now it all seemed possible (and practical) to bring my passions and previous experience together into a new business, palm trees included.
By the end of the course I was convinced: I can do this! And so can anyone else that wants it enough.
If you’re on the same path and have been flirting with the idea of moving into entrepreneurship, stay tuned because I’ll be documenting my journey each step of the way. If an introverted university boffin with too many ideas and notepads of excuses can do it, you certainly can!
9-to-Thrive course dates: 11-17 Oct & 13-19 Dec 2015. Contact TurnPoint for 2016 dates.