Saying No as a New Entrepreneur

As I enter 2018, I can’t help but remember where I was a year ago. I was learning to say no as a new business owner, and to accept the consequences that go along with that powerful, scary word.

Status Quo or Something New?

In July 2016, I left a stable job to start a writing consulting business. I was a Senior Technical Writer at a Fortune 100 company, and I had colleagues that treated me like a family member. I could no longer deny that I wanted something new and different with more variety.

My work hadn’t fulfilled my desire to help people for several years. Many people asked, “Why would you walk away from a good salary, benefits and coworkers that respect you?”

Committing to a Change

By leaving my job, I said “no” to comfort and stability, and “yes” to ambiguity and flexibility. When I explained that I wanted to use my writing skills to help jobseekers and business owners, and be more available to my family, most people looked at me like — or blatantly told me — I was crazy.

I tried to ignore their negativity, and my own feelings of self-doubt. Between advertising, networking and learning how to operate a business, I often felt overwhelmed, but I haven’t even touched on my biggest problem as a new entrepreneur yet – cash flow.

Making Difficult Choices

Cash flow is a common concern for new business owners. From July to December 2016, I accepted projects that did not fulfill my business direction. I had a large group of contacts from my previous position, and experienced technical writers are tough to find, especially for projects with tight deadlines. These projects helped support my family, but they limited my ability to write documents for jobseekers and business owners.

By the end of 2016, I knew that my biggest mistake as a new entrepreneur was accepting assignments that did not support the direction of my business. Something had to change. In January 2017, I started saying “no.” The first time I said it, my voice was barely audible, and my hands shook as I gripped the phone. Every time I turned down an opportunity, I felt badly for disappointing someone; I worried that I would not have enough work to replace the income of a large project. What happened next surprised me.

Finding my Voice

My contacts were incredibly supportive of my desire to change my focus; they even referred me to family members and friends. My client base grew immensely. In 2017, I helped 67 clients find new jobs, and several new businesses with website content, editing and writing documents.

I am incredibly grateful for the lessons (especially the toughest one) that I learned in 2017. Saying no helped me realize that I really can stay true to my vision for my business. Reading “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek this spring helped me reaffirm why I do what I do.

Wherever you are in your journey, I wish you courage to commit to tough decisions, grace to forgive yourself when you fall and self-awareness to understand what you need to move forward.

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Overwhelmed by the transition to entrepreneurship?

I’ve been there. When I left the corporate and small business worlds to start my own business, I didn’t know what I was in for. I saw other women living lives that I wanted to be mine, and wondered, “How are they doing it?” Knowing something had to give, I totally changed the way I’m running and building my business.

As a mother, blogger, mentor, speaker and business owner, I am used to balancing the demands of many roles. It is hard to “do it all,” and I have learned how to adjust to those expectations. Stick with me and you’ll be diving into your business with fresh eyes and a growth-centered mindset faster than you ever imagined!

It all came to a head in the Fall of 2015. With my daughter’s autism diagnosis and my postpartum depression following my son’s birth, my Spring/Summer that year had been pretty rough. I was feeling pretty kicked around — to say the least. As I was crawling out of the dark and twisty places life had cornered me in that year, I knew that everything had changed.

For many reasons, I couldn’t go back to my corporate life. One of the biggest reasons was that my perspective on how I was going to live my life had changed. A shift had happened. My time away from my children was going to be spent doing things that I was passionate about. Doing things that got me pumped about life. In May of 2016, I went out on my own and started my business. It was great. I was finally doing things that had me pumped about my time away from my kids. I had the flexibility to spend more time with them. At the end of the day, I had the energy to work in my household and my marriage.

But, while I was living my passion and excited about my life again, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses. Previously, I was a teacher, a sales professional, marketing leader and client services manager. By setting clear objectives, I succeeded in each role, even though they were in different industries.

But being an entrepreneur was a whole new world. I felt the loneliness. I had self-doubt. I didn’t know where to start…and I wasn’t the only one in this boat.

Whether I’m out speaking to a room full of female entrepreneurs or leading a workshop, one of the things that I hear over and over again from these amazing women is how great it is to be out from behind their desks and surrounded by a group of like-minded women. And as our conversation continues, it becomes clear that they are looking for a tribe of women that they can connect and collaborate with regularly in an environment that is welcoming, encouraging and safe enough to let their walls down and share. I needed a community like this too. One that encourages fellow members as they conquer fears, overcome obstacles and achieve their dreams. A tribe that leaves me with a new comfort level and the confidence I’m craving to expand my growth and limits — both personally and professionally.

And most importantly, I wanted a place that would offer me more than inspiration. One that would give me the actionable advice, education and mentorship, support and accountability that we all need.

And from these conversations and my own needs, Fempire Builders was born.

You see, it’s not just me. And it’s not just you. We are not alone. And when we come together, it’s a powerful thing. With the Fempire Builders community supporting me and holding me accountable, I have experienced the business growth that previously I had only dreamed about.

Just as it has been for other Fempire Builders, it will be the same for you, too. Wait and see!