You've seen it: the promise of working remotely from a beach while you're perfectly organized business runs itself.
This is a reality for some, after an incredible amount of hard work, some sleepless nights, a lot of money, and in some cases not having to be the sole provider of their financial lives. I have a deep respect for full-time entrepreneurs. The reality is, it’s not for everyone.
Entrepreneurship is a brave journey for women (and men!). It forces you to deal with aspects of yourself you've never even considered. With so many self-proclaimed experts trying to sell you the perfect system, it can be confusing to know who to go to for mentorship.
My friend Jen Groover always says: “A mentor should be someone who has already accomplished what you want to accomplish, in any aspect of your life.”
(I only share parts of my story when it’s intention is to be of service to anyone, so here goes.)
For over 15 years I've been a part-time entrepreneur. In that same 15 years I’ve almost always had a full-time job. with flexibility built in, that was also rewarding. I've had several businesses — some that are still going since 2000. SoundChange Career Coaching was born out of one of my first coaching and consulting businesses, Executive Producer, started in 2007. In 2013 I added starting a small young women's leadership non-profit organization to list. After just two years, Get Smart Mentoring has united young women all over the world through our international leadership development intern program as well as provided in-school mentoring to young girls in need.
I did try my hand at full-time entrepreneurship while taking some time to do my graduate work. I was so excited. I thought “This is great. I’ll make all of my own hours, call the shots, and be able to work from anywhere!”
What I discovered was the following: It surprised me and taught me some things that I hope will make a difference for you, if part-time entrepreneurship might be calling your name.
- You are Everything. When you have your own business, you can be every role. While I did have an assistant and a web development team, I was still head of marketing, HR, accounting, content creation, technology, and yes, the mail room clerk. Yes, you can delegate, but without limitless funds to pay people to give work, this becomes difficult. I’m not saying it’s impossible — it’s just also situational, related to finances, relationship, and living situations.
- Free interns can’t run your business. As a person who runs an international intern program, I have worked with incredibly talented and reliable young women. I hear a lot of entrepreneurs say “I’ll get some free interns or college students who want credit.” Interns must be guided, developed, and managed. Without direction from you they cannot help you. They also must be well versed in your brand and have the correct expertise. If you have the time and talent to manage people like this, then by all means it can be a great resource. There are also new labor laws with regard to unpaid interns, and my integrity is of utmost important to me.
- Working alone is great for some, and not for others. I found myself getting increasingly depressed working from home. I am a very social person and went to a lot of networking events. I just LOVE professional collaboration and being part of a team in person. My graduate work was in social and organizational psychology. I learned during that time that I do my best work in groups and communities. As much as I am a natural leader, working solo was just not for me.
- It’s ok to not want to build an empire. I want to make a difference in many ways and am very fortunate to have a lot of outlets for that. I do not desire to build a giant company. Why? As the pressure mounted from full-time entrepreneurship, I lost part of my natural enthusiasm and energy. It was more than I could handle, and I was really NOT ashamed of that. Life took me on an unexpected journey. I thought I’d be married and have kids by now, but I don’t. At 39, I’ve supported myself, even at times in relationships, since I was 20. I’m my backup. I couldn’t afford to lose my center.
If entrepreneurship is for you, the first thing you will learn is to be true to your authentic self. It’s important to not feel pressured to join some imaginary race to the top (of an internet heap of landing pages that all look the same.) I feel humbled and grateful to have full-time work I love, and to be what I now call a mini-preneur. If you are seeking a career change, even if it doesn’t involve entrepreneurship, it’s always great to ask yourself some powerful questions. Grab my free career change assessment here. I wish everyone the exact professional fulfillment that they were meant to have. Make smart, bold, and sound changes.
Stephanie Licata is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.