Last year, I resigned from my comfortable and well paying corporate job to become a stay-at-home mom turned “mompreneur”. Which really means I take care of my daughter during the day and am an entrepreneur in the evenings, early mornings, and occasionally nap time. My first year as a mompreneur has been full of ups and downs but today I will focus on the good, the bad, and the Jesus Take the Wheel moments.
My immediate thought was to write “freedom” or “autonomy”, which are all good things about being self-employed, but that’s not it. For me, the best thing about being an entrepreneur is feeling ALIVE every single day because not one day goes by that I am not learning or implementing something new. I don’t have that awful feeling on Sunday evening before the work week starts and I am absorbing knowledge in ways I never dreamt possible even a year ago.
For example, many of you know that I created and published The Philly Baby Bump Guide earlier this year. When I randomly decided to create this guide, because why not?, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I thought, how hard can it be to create a guide?
I literally googled “How To Create A Magazine” and Adobe Indesign popped up in the results. Wait? What is Indesign? I know Adobe Acrobat that I use to view PDF’s but this…That’s when I knew I was in trouble. HOWEVER, I was also intrigued and eager to learn something new that didn’t involve Excel or Powerpoint.
By the grace of God, Google, and YouTube, I was able to design and write a guide from scratch. No team. No assistants. No prior experience. Just me, a lot of work, and a couple of near all-nighters. While I have pulled all-nighters before (hello consulting and investment banking!), working on this guide was completely different.
Yes, it was incredibly tedious at some points but I had energy and felt pride that I had NEVER experienced before in the work I did in my corporate career.
I will never forget the way I felt when a huge box of printed copies arrived at my house. I pulled out one copy of the guide, put in on my kitchen counter, and immediately took a picture to send to friends. I remember thinking, whoa this actually looks legit and I can’t believe I did this!
Now when I wake up in the morning, I’m tired because I have a 17 month old but I am also bursting with so many ideas. To the point that my husband has found jotted notes and ideas written on the back of my daughter’s books because I just couldn’t wait to get my thoughts down.
I feel like I am not just going through the daily motions but am actively working to figure out my purpose in life while getting to raise my daughter the way I want to.
Being an entrepreneur is incredibly hard and for me, it’s NOT natural. In fact, I still remember when my husband and I were in the early stages of dating during my MBA program and he asked if I would ever consider being an entrepreneur. I basically said hell to the no without a second thought. There was (and still is) nothing about me that really says entrepreneur.
Personally but even more so professionally, I am extremely risk averse. I hate selling, I stay in my lane with what I know, I follow rules and procedures without questioning why, I love structure, and I hate when things are unpredictable. See what I mean? Gary Vaynerchuk, I am not.
What I have learned however, from Gary, Marie Forleo, Goalcast, and other motivational resources that I read or listen to daily is that I have been reinforcing this narrative and way of thinking without anyone challenging me. After I left my corporate role, I began to strongly challenge these assumptions and ask some of the assumptions that It’s only been since I left my corporate role that I have begun to strongly challenge these assumptions that I have told myself.
We have all heard the argument about whether entrepreneurs are born or “made”. But frankly, I don’t think either best reflects a new wave of people like me. What I call “reluctant mompreneurs”: educated, hard working, new moms with young children that are leaving their traditional careers out of a desire for more flexibility to raise their families.
So what does this mean? It means that as a reluctant mompreneur, I am constantly being pushed outside of my comfort zone while trying to balance motherhood.
Sending an email to a potential clients still makes my stomach churn (don’t even get me started on sending follow-up emails), not knowing what I am going to be doing work-wise next month let alone next year is terrifying, and the constantly having to create my own rules and family time boundaries is oddly overwhelming. But I’m doing it.
Case in point, I recently attended the A Child Grows Baby & Family expo as an exhibitor in Philadelphia and I was super nervous in the days leading up to the expo. I have attended numerous expos and conferences in my life but never in a million years did I think I was going to be on the other side of one.
I was terrified of putting myself out there but my friends, the fantastic vendors and attendees, and the always supportive group of women who make up the Philadelphia maternity and parenting network made me feel so much better. It was a coming out party of sorts and a big milestone for me so mission accomplished.
Jesus Take The Wheel…
The single worst thing about being an entrepreneur for me is ironically the same thing that was preventing me from leaving my job in the first place, the FEAR. I didn’t realize that taking the leap into entrepreneurship would actually heighten the fear. I went from fear or having regrets if I didn’t leave to fear of rejection and judgement.
When well-intentioned people tell me that I “shouldn’t care what other people think”, I always roll my eyes because I have never actually met anyone that doesn’t care what other people think. You may say you don’t care but…
The point is, I care. I want people to like me or at the very least respect me. And the fear of having people not like me, or judge me, or think I’m not smart, or wonder why I am doing a random maternity website can be debilitating.
For example, my LinkedIn profile remained untouched for 6 months after I left my job. The truth is I didn’t know what the people that I respected and admired in my professional network were going to say when I updated my profile to say “Maternity Lifestyle & Services Expert” for Philly Baby Bump.
Because, “what is that and what is Philly Baby Bump?”, “why did she leave her job?”,”is she seriously blogging for a living?”, “did she get fired?”, “what a loser!”.
These were all the thoughts I imagined people saying so I simply didn’t update my profile. Problem solved!
I decided enough was enough and realized that no one but ME gets to define who I am. So I updated my profile and pressed submit even though I was completely terrified and doubting my new found confidence.
And you know what? The world didn’t end. Funny how that happens…
So why Jesus Take The Wheel? Because I don’t think this will ever go away and I’m sure it will probably get worse as I take on bigger things. The only thing that helps me in these moments is to have faith, work hard, believe that I am worthy of something more, and seize opportunities that come way.
Whether I fail or succeed, I will not let fear get to me.