A year ago, I left a corporate job to try my hand at entrepreneurship. I spent over 60 days traveling or working remotely. I’m rarely stressed and am the strongest, healthiest I’ve ever been.
If you know my writing style, however, you know that I have no reservations about revealing the most raw and vulnerable details of my journey. In this reflection, I share the most memorable highs and lows from my first year as an entrepreneur-in-training.
It sounds kitschy but learning to fail fast is truly my proudest accomplishment. Originally, I felt stopping a project or letting a client go was a result of my own shortcomings as a project manager. Now, I’m learning to recognize red flags and stop muscling through something that’s not working. Doing so is saving me time, money, and head-ache.
I no longer feel ashamed to say I’m in consulting. When you believe in your heart that you can build something great, it feels lame and frustrating to make your living this way. Thanks to this Medium article, I now realize that consulting is an excellent way to bootstrap future businesses with no debt or investors.
Speaking of bootstrapping, I built and started selling an online product in six months. With scraps of time between consulting projects, I developed a series of online classes to teach others the art of grant writing. As I go into 2019, my primary focus is growing from 10 customers to 100 (and then 1,000!).
Thanks to End of Summer Camp, I learned I can still reach my goals and take myself less seriously. This perspective shift has been game-changing; I now wear wigs at any opportunity and make a point of being as lighthearted and inspirational to others as possible.
What about the lows? I couldn’t pay rent on time twice this year. The first time it happened, I accepted part-time work, but this only fueled my commitment to making it as an entrepreneur. The second time, I reflected (a lot) on how I was spending my time and resolved to make course corrections. I now rigorously vet if what I’m doing moves me towards my goals. I even have a list next to my desk with all the times I have said “No, but thanks!”
My biggest fear is not leveling up from freelancer to successful business owner. Intellectually, I understand that my fears come from pushing into uncharted territories and that growing a business takes time. I channel this anxiety into something more useful by focusing on building positive habits.
Do you remember that game as a kid of hot, warm, cold? If you were close to the object you were warm, warmer, and finally hot if right next to it. If you moved away from the selected object, you were told cool, cold, freeeezing! I feel like I’m warm. I haven’t “made it” yet, but I’m getting closer every day.
Thank you to everyone who believes in me (and any aspiring entrepreneur). Your regular doses of support are sincerely appreciated.
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Meredith Noble is a 5th generation cattle rancher from Wyoming, loving life in Alaska. She founded SenecaWorks — a boutique project management consulting firm to be every bit the stereotypical millennial. Her lifestyle affords lots of time in the mountains and opportunities to help develop interesting community projects. Her most recent project is www.learngrantwriting.org — a series of online classes to teach others how to become talented grant writers. Follow her bike and ski adventures here.