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How I Did It – Taking the Leap into Self-Employment

June 14, 2014
How I Did It – Taking the Leap into Self-Employment

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Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 52 seconds. Contains 774 words

When you’re a child, you dream about what you’ll be when you grow up and there are no limitations.  “I’m going to be the President!” or “I’m going to be an astronaut and go to Mars!” seem like plausible career goals to a five-year-old.  But then somewhere along the way, we get a little jaded or maybe just desperate, and we sometimes find ourselves in jobs that involve more Excel spreadsheets than lunar missions.

My career path wasn’t too bad… I always had fairly easy jobs, usually with friendly coworkers (minus one very long year at a doctor’s office) and even landed a couple jobs that were pretty stellar.  I mean how many twenty-year-olds do you know that have a gold American Express, a corporate car and get to travel all the time in their first job out of college?

But then, like so many people, I found myself “falling” into office job after office job, none of which thrilled me.  Sure I could do the work but none of them lit any kind of fire within me and I certainly wasn’t doing a jig in the morning when I got out of bed to go to work.

So when my mother (and best friend) passed away in September 2013, I decided it was time to make a change.  See my mother and I have always been very alike in our personalities and behaviors, and there ended up being a lot of things she didn’t get to do in her life because she ran out of time.  I knew I didn’t want the same fate.

It’s not like I had to take one of those personality tests or read “What Color is Your Parachute?” to figure out what my passions were.  I’ve known for quite a long time… animals (especially dogs) and writing.

In 2007, I sent some MySpace blogs I had written to the local newspaper and actually landed a freelance gig that I’ve held on the side ever since.  But I had never made writing my full time profession.  Then, in 2012, I also started boarding dogs in my home.  But again, only as a side gig.  So when I had my little epiphany in September of 2013, I knew what I had to do.  I had to take THE LEAP.

Jump off the cliff into financial uncertainty and hope there’d be a cushy landing and not a huge SPLAT.  I had been working as a personal assistant for an entrepreneur for about six months, so I was already used to having no health benefits or taxes taken out of my pay.  It wouldn’t be a huge change in those ways, but kissing my direct deposits goodbye would be a whole other story.  I prayed about it, thought about it, worried about it and dreamt about it, until finally it was just time to do it.  So…

I leapt.

I put up flyers and passed out business cards for my dog boarding business and spruced up my online profile a bit.  I went onto the freelancing websites I used for writing and after some more profile sprucing, applied to a bunch of open projects.  I got new business cards made for both businesses and I reorganized my workspace.  Fake it til you make it, right?  I got a project planner (to keep track of the many writing projects I’d be juggling), set up a system for tracking expenses and made goodie bags for my dog boarding customers.  And you know what?

It happened.

New writing projects and dog boarding/walking customers came out of the woodwork!  Almost immediately, I got a call out of the blue from the editor of a small, local newspaper who had carried one of my stories from the large city paper I already write for.  He offered me a position to string with them as well.  I picked up several regular blogging clients.  I was offered a ghostwriting opportunity.  I got three new regular dog walking clients.  If my life was a giant jigsaw puzzle, it was going click click click!  I had the confirmation that I needed that I had made the right decision and my leap of faith was a good one.

Sure every day there’s still a little element of “will I still have enough work?”  But every day I do and every day, I thank my lucky stars that I get to do what I love and call it my job.  Now that’s enough to make you do a little jig.

Career, entrepreneur, job, leap of faith, self employment, work,

Jenn

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