Saturday Reflection: On Milestones and Jumping

Happy Birthday Sprout New Media

Have you ever had one of those moments when you suddenly realize that you’ve hit a big milestone in your life, and you didn’t even see it coming? I had one of those “wow” moments yesterday when it hit me that:

  • My son turned 20 (!) over the summer and started his junior year of college. He’s paving his way to a bright future, and he’s more than halfway to graduation.
  • My daughter will turn 18 (!) in a few weeks, and she’ll graduate from high school in the spring. Needless to say, we’re deep in the throes of the college application process right now. Her future is as bright as her brother’s.
  • My husband and I have now been married 21 years (half my life!), as of yesterday. We’ve grown together, raised two children, and been through our share of ups and downs. It’s kind of cool to look back and remember all the stuff we’ve packed into the last 21 years. (Where does the time go?)

And my business turns two today

I can’t believe that I almost forgot! Two years ago today I stepped out as a self-employed professional. I left a job that was pretty stable and paid OK, but I was bored, frustrated, and wanted more out of life. I wanted the freedom to set my own schedule and make my own rules. I wanted to be able to make the decisions when I knew things could be done a better way. And I knew I could eventually make more money to help support my family.

Plenty of people told me I was crazy to start my business in the midst of the stock market crash and the collapse of the US economy. (I routinely heard “Don’t you know it takes businesses 3-4 years to be successful?” and “90% of all small businesses fail in the first two years”) But I knew I could make it work. I had laid the groundwork, met with small business counselors, lined up a few potential clients, etc. And I couldn’t afford to fail. It simply wasn’t an option.

So I closed my eyes, held my breath, and jumped

I was fortunate to have the support of my husband, who never questioned what I was doing. We already had discussed the pros and cons, and he never suggested that I go back out and “get a job”. He just trusted that whatever I was doing would work.

And two years later, I’m still here

Over the past two years I’ve learned tons about what I’ve done right and what I could have done better, I’ve met lots of people and made some amazing friends. I’ll always be learning and growing. There’s no looking back now (not that I ever planned on looking back to begin with).

How do you know when it’s the right time?

I get asked that a lot. And it’s not an easy question to answer, because everyone’s situation is different. When I left my job on October 2, 2008 I had three months worth of savings in the bank and exactly one paying client. Not exactly ideal situation, but there was no question in my mind that this was what I was supposed to do.

I don’t think that there really ever IS a “right” time. It’s like any life-changing event, really. There never is a perfect time. You’re never quite ready. There’s always risk involved, and sure, things could get completely screwed up. But if it’s what you want, you eventually have to jump.

But what is your potential compared to what you’re doing now?

Your potential productivity, your potential for happiness, your potential income, etc. For example: if you’re making $10/hour at your 40-hour/week day job, but you can charge $50/hour working on your own, you’re essentially losing money at that $10/hr job. Or if you make quilts, for example, that sell for $1,000 each (or more), how many more quilts could you make and sell if you could devote more time and energy to it?

I realize it’s not always that simple, but that’s the way I had to look at it.

By keeping my day job I was holding back my progress.

And sure, there are challenges. I won’t say there aren’t. Working for yourself requires a different level of focus and discipline. I have good days and bad days. I have those “what-the-hell-am-I-doing” days and I have days when I miss the weekly paycheck. But I have lots of great days, too, and even my worst days are still way better than my best days at a J-O-B. I’ve also realized that I work way harder for myself than I ever did for any boss. 😉

And here’s the thing – when you get a sense of fulfillment from what you do, it doesn’t feel like work. I love helping small businesses stay afloat by marketing on the web. I like teaching people the value of the internet, and all the different ways they can grow their businesses online. Its incredibly satisfying.

So Happy Anniversary to my little biz, and here’s to many more. *clink*

Oh, and here’s where I’m supposed to tell you about all the awesome things I can do for you, so if you’re looking for some help with your marketing, let’s talk.

Image Credit: ADoseofShipBoy

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