I believe the greatest things can come from times when we’re most scared and uncomfortable. I had to endure months of uncertainty before forming a business I feel confident calling my own. It took me months on end before I felt comfortable even claiming that I was indeed starting a business.
I endured several months of being unemployed, job searching, starting a program to gain coaching skills, resorting back to the corporate world out of fear and insecurity, before eventually hitting a breaking point.
I realized I needed to be on my own. I wasn’t fit for the corporate world anymore. But I was so lost and unsure how to proceed. It was so scary to “go out on my own.” I knew there were problems I was solving. I knew I had something to offer. But I had no clue how to deliver that value to the world. I had no clue where to begin. I had no clue how to start a business.
Eventually, I embraced the fact that I’d be on my own and I simply kept trying to fight my way through this swamp-like jungle, cutting down all the branches in my way until I could see a clear path. I embraced the unknown. I made a home office for myself and got a business coach. I took baby steps to figure out how I could continue to deliver my value to the world. The service and vision of what I’d create and offer have evolved immensely, as I knew it would, but in the end, I realized I simply had to start somewhere.
Once I was accepted into the NYU Stern Tech MBA, it also made me feel much more comfortable to go try this crazy thing of starting my own business. I had always wanted this degree and it seemed to make sense at this point: I’d learn everything about business so that I could create and run my own. In the end, the environment I was in helped me gain momentum, traction, progress, key relationships and a lot of critical knowledge about business, but boy was I busy.
Luckily, I found a great accelerator that also helped me go from idea to laying the foundation to build the business (shoutout @Tacklebox). I ended up participating in a startup sprint, two competitions, and two summer startup programs. All of these added resources, structure, mentorship and more to help ensure we set goals to push our progress forward.
Mind you, I had spent five months avoiding and not embracing this fear, and another two months trying to fit into the corporate world. But once I did, it took me about 1.5 years to transition from this feeling of complete instability to a semblance of stability. I now have created a new 9–5 for myself — we have set enough of the early groundwork of our business to give me enough to do throughout the week to help keep us growing. It took time to lay that initial foundation but slowly but surely, my clarity around our goals, our product, our vision, our strategy, our team, and our path forward became clearer and easier to pursue with each coming day. It took two years until I felt confident enough to truly pursue this path wholeheartedly. It took two years until a job I created felt like a job I could’ve been hired to do.
The experience of creating my job has been strange. It is the one job that isn’t offered or handed to you — it is created, and if you plan on pursuing this path, you must have the affinity, the passion, and the wherewithal to start and endure a journey that is never clear. It is a journey where you have to create your priorities and to-do list. It is not an easy road to endure such uncertainty daily.
For potential entrepreneurs:
- Try to understand what entrepreneurship truly entails before you dive in, but if you feel it’s right for you, do not let the fear of not knowing how to start stop you.
- Simply spend a little bit of time learning about how to start and resources available to you (including other entrepreneurs)
- Figure out what it would take for you to rip the bandaid off and start, even if its baby steps at first
- Here’s a hint: your early steps should be as follows:
- Spend time figuring out what problem areas you care about
- Learn a ton about that industry
- Brainstorm and test early solutions
- Take baby steps to start laying the groundwork for something that can and will grow much bigger (if you believe in it)
- Explore startup programs. They can also be a helpful way at the beginning of your journey to add structure as you are exploring the initial phases.
I always say that starting is the hardest part. Not just embracing the unknown but knowing what is the first step to take? So, whether it’s an MBA, a startup program (incubator/accelerator), a mentor, or even a part-time gig that gives you security and comfort to simply start to pursue your ideas, find the thing that will make you feel comfortable to take just the first step. I assure you, the hardest part is the early days of swimming in swampy waters. With every coming day, the pool clears up.