What I Learned from Quitting My Job to Start a Business

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The thought of starting your own business may be a captivating idea, but turning that dream into a reality may be one leap you are hesitant to take- especially if you have a corporate job with good pay and other benefits. I spent a while daydreaming about what it would be like to build and run my own business before I had the guts to finally do it.

Now, I’m in my sixth successful year as a business coach and trainer.

Though starting a new business can seem very intimidating, being your own boss is so worth the effort ( I promise). Yet at the same time, I realize that it’s nothing like what I thought it would be. Throughout my journey, I had to learn how to shift my mindset and create new behaviors in order to overcome the many obstacles that would have prevented me from achieving my business goals.

Here are some lessons I’ve learned along the way as well as some things I wished I had known before I decided to be a business owner.

Embrace Your Fear

I remember waking up that first Monday morning after I had left my job to embark on my new quest to be my own boss. The waves of anxiety threatened to knock me over the minute I got out of bed. I’m a person who enjoys routines and knowing what to expect- the very things that come with working for an established company or organization. But there I was, unsure how I was going to earn my next paycheck or fill up my open schedule.

Then all the doubts started to creep in. Did I really have something that businesses would buy? Did I really know what I was getting myself into? Would I really see this through till the end?

It was only until I identified and embraced the things that were holding me back, that I began to make progress. As a woman and a minority, I’ve faced my share of hardships along the way. To succeed, I had to find ways to overcome those obstacles and make a commitment to seize the opportunities that were right in front of me even if doing so pushed me out of my comfort zone. Through hard work, determination and focus, I grew my business and made it past the 5-year fail point.

Do Your Homework

One of the things I wished I had done differently was to develop a more thought-out plan of action before I left my job. It would have made the transition from employed to an entrepreneur so much easier. Don’t make the same mistake I did!

Have a heart-to-heart talk with yourself. What is it that you know and are passionate about that people will buy? Why do you want to be an entrepreneur in the first place? Do you have the time, the resources, the skills, and the determination it takes to be successful?

Starting your own business will take a lot of work and resilience. Can you grind it out when you hit a roadblock? Are you willing to invest in yourself and learn what it takes to be successful?

Manage Your Time and Energy Well

When you work for someone else, the company’s schedule is your schedule. The corporate goals and calendar determines how and when jobs are started and finished. The continuous flow of deadlines also means that even someone who is time-management challenged can still get work done.

When you run your own business, you’ll learn pretty quickly that nobody’s going to be looking over your shoulder to make sure you deliver the results you said you would. It’s up to you to figure out the best use of your time and energy and to pick the best goals for your business.

Ask for Help

If you are lacking in a particular skill or are struggling with something, then you’ve got to ask for help. One of the ways I learned to embrace my fears and expand my capabilities was by connecting with other entrepreneurs through collaboration and partnerships.

You should also think about hiring a business coach. A coach is someone who not only understands your business idea and where you are coming from, but who will ask the hard questions that help you get clear on about the things that are holding you back and your motivation for starting a business.

Just Do It!

Nothing will be perfect, and you will make plenty of mistakes along the way. But if you continually stay on the sideline fearing to take your first step, you are missing out on opportunities to jump-start your business. So, get out there! And if you fall, just pick yourself up, figure out what you could have done better or different and get moving again.

I don’t regret leaving the comfort of my job to start my own business. But while owning your own business is rewarding, it’s is also one of the hardest jobs you will ever have. My advice: do your homework, learn the lessons that other entrepreneurs have to teach and connect with the people who have the skills and tools you need to help you out of the starting block.

Next Steps

If you want help with taking this step, complete the form below and ask for our “Is Entrepreneurship For You” survey. One of our coaches will provide you with feedback about your results.

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It’s the 3rd Quarter: Three Tips for Increasing Your Win Probability

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Whether you are a newcomer or an experience federal contractor, the third quarter is like a fitness and endurance test to get as many wins before 9/30.  The biggest mistake many federal contractors make is getting into the game too late or thinking they have a lot of time win before the seconds tick down to 00:00.

If you are a government contractor, one of your business development strategies should be taking advantage of government spending in the third quarter (April-May-June), which should be devoted to building relationships, responding to RFPs and scheduling briefing meetings. Hopefully, you are starting planning for this period in the previous quarter to win big! Here are some tips to increase your win probability:

  • Create a blitz by increasing your capture and proposal resources. Having the capacity and capability to respond to sources sought, RFIs, RFQs, and RFPs quickly is the difference between a strong finish or coming in the last If you are a small business, think about how you outsource this need, team or collaborate to share resources to create a blitz.  
  • Do outreach campaigns for set-aside, sole source, and year-end. As contracting officers are trying to meet their year-end goals, think about how you can help using a campaign strategy. OSDBUs and SBOs can assist you by hosting a conference call or web meeting to showcase your solutions. It’s a golden opportunity to make sure your pitch is on point.
  • Use contract vehicles to influence opportunities in your favor. Responding to sources sought and RFIs are great opportunities to pitch your company as the best solution, but take it a step further. Use these opportunities to influence the government to use contract vehicles (GSA Schedule, SAP, HUBZone, BPA, IDIQs) to save money, but are also in your favor. Limiting the competition is a winning strategy.

Winning contracts is highly probable.  Using these three tips will improve your winning strategies. Get on your mark: ready – set – go!

About the Author:

Renzie Richardson leads the capture and proposal management strategies for BHFL GOV.  She trains, coaches and provides capture and proposal writing services for federal contractors. To learn more about her winning strategies, contact her at renzier@bhflgroup.com

Renzie RichardsonIt’s the 3rd Quarter: Three Tips for Increasing Your Win Probability
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