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What I've Learned After One Year of Self Employment

 
  Photo Credit  Rich Altherr

Photo Credit Rich Altherr

 

One year ago I left the steady paycheck of Silicon Valley to start my own company. I have exactly one year’s worth of experiences and transitions under my belt- it feels good.  However, the first year is a wild ride.  Starting your own company or practice can be like taking 15 years worth of life’s experiences in one gulp.  Your strengths will shine and your opportunities for growth - well, they’ll shine too. What will make or break you is how honest you are with yourself throughout the process.  Ask yourself, "What do you want from this experience? Where do you need support? What are your biggest fears? What does success look like for you? What are you doing to maintain your health?" I’ve learned over the past year that it’s best to trust the process.  It means embracing a wild ride of self-discovery and finding the right strategy that works for your business.  Adapting is a strength. Clinging to the past is not.

Be free.

The more you practice looking at the spectrum of your emotions such as fear, joy, disappointment, and happiness with the lens of the mindful witness the more focused your energy becomes.  The mindful witness is the part of you that asks, “You didn’t get the response that you were looking for, what is coming up for you? Does this remind you of a previous experience?” The mindful witness coaches you to see things that bring fulfillment in your life.  “You feel good after you teach a client to do something new and see that it’s helpful for them. Let’s do more of that.”  Or if you’re an excellent listener you may hear, “It’s time to take a break. You’ve had enough screen time for now.”  Getting too attached to any emotion can distract us from our vision.  The best way to build a relationship with your mindful witness is to spend time being outdoors in Nature without being on your device.  Immerse yourself in the outdoors even if it’s just a walk in a park. The practice is finding a place outdoors where you can BE with little to no expectations of anyone, including yourself.

A word of caution: Don't confuse the shitty committee with the mindful witness.  The shitty committee says things like, "You're not good enough.  You don't belong here.  They won't like you."  When the shitty committee begins voicing their concerns, kindly thank them for trying to be protective and keep you safe, but you've got this one.  

reach out.

You reach your highest potential when you ask for help - counterintuitive, I know.  Outsource services that help you get comfortable with running parts of the business that you’ve never run before.  It’s straightforward to find marketing, social media, web design, coaching or graphic design services within your network.  Hiring someone full time or part time isn’t the only option to consider.  You have the freedom to hire someone on a project or short-term basis.  The best way to find these gems? Ask around. Ask people in your network that have had the experience of starting their own business. Build relationships with other business owners that allow for the exchange of helpful tips and being a sounding board for each other.

Make peace with the hustle.  

As I launched Follow the Sun, I often wondered how I was ever going to feel comfortable pitching my services without feeling like I was pushy or invasive. During numerous hikes, I contemplated this question. I realized the more clarity you have about WHY you are doing what you are doing, the better you become at communicating value to prospective clients. We are all just people talking to people.  We enjoy swapping stories. Keep reaching out with the right intentions and the right connections turn into the right clients.

Travel light.

Starting my own business has allowed me to travel more.  Whether I travel for clients, speaking engagements, or pop up workshops, I get to explore different areas of the world and create meaningful connections.  For now, I am a digital nomad.  My business has a permanent post office box, but I enjoy the freedom, flexibility, and bliss of not having a brick and mortar office.  I can freely connect with clients, communities, and local natural ecosystems while having the freedom to stay longer in an area if my work and personal interests warrant so. Whether you have your own company or you work for an organization flexibility is an option to explore.  Check out FlexJobs or Werk for options beyond the 9-5.

Are you interested in becoming a digital nomad or starting your own business?  Follow the Sun offers in-depth life and career coaching aimed to help you live your fullest life.  Check out our coaching packages here.

Erica Medina Stanulis