GUEST POST BY EMILY CRETELLA
“So, would you like my two weeks notice now, or should I put it in writing?”
And with those words, I began my journey as an entrepreneur.
At the time, I was working as the Director of Strategy for a marketing agency, pulling four long, stress-heavy days in the office and one from home each week, trying to balance my ambition with my role as mama to a baby girl who was about to turn 1.
AND I WAS FALTERING.
So when my agency bosses scheduled an HR meeting for the first thing on a Friday morning, I knew what was up.
“I know they’re going to tell me I can’t work from home one day anymore!” I cried to my husband the night before the meeting. “I just know it!” I could not fathom spending one more minute away from my little girl. The guilt was already so heavy.
As my poor husband tried and failed to calm me down, I added: “And I think I’m pregnant!”
Fast-forward a few hours and not one but two stops to the local drugstore to test the merits of various pregnancy tests, and it was confirmed: I was pregnant.
I had a one year old. A brand new house. And no clue what to do.
The next morning, my other hunch was confirmed: office policies were changing. No more working from home. In the meeting, I nodded, smiled. And then, with early pregnancy, mama- bear hormones raging …
Looking back at that moment now, it seems inevitable, and serendipitous, and sound. But at the time, it was terrifying. When you’re in a moment, there is no gift of hindsight. No relief of reflection. There’s just the overwhelming presence of now. And you either have to live in it, or run from it.
So, scary as it was, I jumped in.
When I first started my entrepreneurship free fall, there was no way I could have dreamed up the business(es) I have today. Instead, I dreamed up what I wanted to be. Who I wanted to help. How I wanted to spend my time.
So if you, like me, find yourself accidentally thrust into entrepreneurship -- or if you, like me, had not thought about business ownership as a possibility until it was your only one -- don’t panic.
YOU DON'T NEED TO HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS. You don’t need to know what that business will look like in five years, or one year, or even six months. You just need to start moving in a direction that feels right at the moment. And you can do that by asking yourself these three questions:
1 / what am I good at?
Even if you are working a corporate job right now, you have business skills that can transfer into creative entrepreneurship.
Think about any praise you get in your current job. What about you makes your clients and coworkers rave? What would they tell someone else about your work? Make a list of all of the services and tactics at which you excel.
2 / what do I love to do?
When I first started my business, I made the mistake of offering every single service I could offer. But just because you know how to do something doesn’t mean you should do it. It took me years to focus my services on exactly what I actually wanted to spend my days doing.
So after you write down all of the things you’re really good at, circle the things you would want to fill your days with. Be selective. You can always add to this list later. Offering additional services or products is usually easier than taking them away.
3 / what do my clients or customers need?
One thing that has never failed me during this journey is putting my audience first.
Understanding their challenges and hesitations, and knowing how my skills can help ease those pains has transformed my business into its current state.
Look at your narrowed-down list and see if the things you love to do align with the things your audience needs. If not, you may have to expand it to include some of your good-at tasks, or you may have to rethink the audience you will target.
Understanding those three things about yourself and the people you will serve will begin to weave the fibers of a safety net that will keep your business buoyed as you build it.
Today, years after that infamous HR meeting, I can reflect on my fall into entrepreneurship and see the other pieces of my safety net in place: my years of hard work, my supportive husband and family, my drive to succeed, my desire to show my daughters an alternate path to leadership.
It all came together and allowed me to build a business that I love that fits in the spaces left by nap time and school drop-off and sports sidelines. I have been able to pursue my deep-rooted passions, while slowly reshaping my personal definition of success. I have accepted more deeply that creativity and self-expression and success matter to me -- not in spite of motherhood, but because of it.
It took a leap to make it happen, but in the end that free fall was just as important as the jump.
Emily Cretella is a content marketing strategist, copywriter and the founder of MotherHustle.com, a publication that empowers creative mompreneurs to define their success and explore personal fulfillment in motherhood and business (relaunch coming June 2017!). She loves being mom to her two little ladies and drinking obscene amounts of coffee from mugs with pithy sayings.
Read her business writing at cursivecontent.com.