Disclaimer: This seemed a better place to share my experience than blasting it all over Facebook, I’m not back to posting all the time, but maybe….only time will tell!
Today I’m quitting my day job. A year ago my life was in a frenzy, but not the good kind. For some of you the last time we talked I just got back from my Honeymoon, so a lot has changed since then. For others, friends, relatives, co-workers, you might have been following my adventure closely, or from afar, on social media, etc, but given the HUGE leap I feel like I’m taking today, I thought it was appropriate to put it all out there. A) for myself, as a kind of reminder of this time in my life, when i need it down the road, and B) because as we all know, inquiring minds want to know!
Rewind: Like I said, a year ago my life was in a frenzy. I wasn’t happy/satisfied/excited, etc about the work aspect of my life, which is pretty sad, since most people I had close contact with know that my work was BASICALLY my life. I was working full time and spending the other hours of my life as a slave to the business I was so desperately trying to build. In an effort to make a change, or find an alternative to not sleeping and running myself ragged, I started looking for other job opportunities to leave my current position (if you’re currently looking for a job, you know is ALSO a job in itself!!) After a few phone interviews, and no solid leads, this bullet train of an opportunity came barreling into my station. I needed change and this job had change written all over it. It was work from home, I was getting TONS of opportunities and responsibilities to get in on the ground floor on, what sounded like, an amazing local opportunity, AND I would be working for someone who seemed to have the same mindset as me when it came to the type of workI wanted to do. We had similar interests, he was super smart, and knew all his shit. So, after SEVERAL interviews that lasted a few hours each, I was excited to take the opportunity when it was offered. As the role was part of a start up, my involvement was going to grow over time, which seemed great, it didn’t require me to make any sudden changes (ie. no risks). I could phase out of my current job as the role grew (I had already dabbled with the idea of becoming part time at my office job, so that was on their radar) and it seemed like I was holding all the cards, unfortunately it was because I was about to fold.
After a week of delving into this new opportunity I realized I couldn’t even answer some of the easy questions about the job “What will you be doing?” — Im not sure… “So whats the pay structure?”– uuuhh?? Its based on ROI?? “What are your responsibilities?” — I would always fumble through some confusing response as I thumbed through pages and pages of notes about what EXACTLY I was responsible for. As the weight of the uncertainty and the responsibility of my presumed new role started weighing on me mentally, it took a physical toll on me as well. A few days after accepting the job I ended up in the hospital with severe stomach pains, nausea, the shakes, etc. The people at the ER were convinced I had appendicitis (I did not) and then it was finger pointing at a slew of other weird medical problems (for which I tested negatively), so, then it was all chalked up to an anxiety attack. Cool. And they told me that my body was basically doing anything it could to get me to stop and slow down. Noted. So I spent a lot of time the following weekend trying to pinpoint the cause of my stress. I decided to reneg. on the opportunity for this new job. At the time, I wrestled with a lot of regret. I knew it had the potential to be something great, to give me a lot of great experience, to do a lot of cool shit, but what about what I was doing? I was already trying to build something I could stamp my name on, to do something that would give me tons of experience, something I could be proud of, AND I had put an expiration date on my project. I hit a hard reset that weekend and went back to the drawing board.
The point of that backstory is so that you realize this RISK, or change, or opportunity, or whatever you want to call it, this new adventure that I’m starting today, has been a long time in the making, and definitely wasn’t with out its bumps and potholes and flat tires on the road to get here.
When I started my business It was a side gig to make some extra spending money. After my first month I was so excited I made something now comical like $100 designing invitations and selling them on Etsy. “Yay me,” I thought. Well, after our wedding my “little side venture” exploded I was spending oodles of time adding new designs, picking up new projects and hammering out BUTTONS as fast as I could. It was kind of comical, because I had never intended for it to get to that point, but, since it had, I was excited to see where it went. In the back of my mind I thought, “gah, how cool if I could just do this all the time!?!” After a year or so of late nights, sacrificed social life, and free time, I was in the previuosly detailed position, and after spending days and days running through numbers and scenarios in my head I took the “mini-risk” to approach my current job about assuming a part time role with them. (side note: my position had initially been part time, and then I picked up a few extra projects, like blogging and social media marketing to come on full time). Because of that, it was pretty easy to scale back to my previous position, so I did, with little push back or arguments. Cool! Now I had something like 15-20 extra hours a week to work on my business. Expiration Date: I’m doing this thing by 30 or I’m not doing it at all. Like 100% supporting myself on business that I curate from my site and other networking/promotion activities. That gives me about 4 years and a month or so to pull it all together. And I think I’m doing a damn good job. We shall see.
In fall of 2014 I went part time with my current job. My new life in “mini risk” mode was great! I pumped up my offerings, took on more freelance/contract based work and for a while it seemed like things were settling.
Enter 2015. The year I vowed to make myself a priority, to listen to my body, AND to grow my business.
1) We’re on this health kick, I’m totally digging it and feel awesome – so that’s the part about me being a priority- since I wasn’t slaving over my work during all my available waking hours, I had time to focus on myself, which was nice for a change.
2) I was FORCED to focus on my business when I realized I had no idea how to even run a business (not to worry— I’ve had no choice but to figure it out!)
I filed for my LLC in August of 2014 (so its been almost a year of official business!) So, that meant people other than my friends, family and etsy knew I existed. Then the obligations started rolling in: Taxes, Annual Reports, Sales and Use Tax payments, Book Keeping, Marketing, Quarterly Estimated Taxes, all of it. I got an attorney, and a CPA, and I was feeling somewhat more equipped to handle my shit, or at least knew I had people that would tell me if I was handling it wrong, so that was a comfort. Considering the number of “WHAT AM I DOING?” “I’M SO STUPID!” “I DON’T KNOW HOW TO RUN A BUSINESS” breakdowns I had AT my husband during the course of 5 or 6 months, it’s a wonder he still talks to me. I mean, after all the buttons he’s made, printer problems he’s fixed, stress milkshakes he purchased, and pennies he’s pinched to help me get to today, I feel pretty lucky!
Enter the bragging, I really am so SO lucky to have him. He’s about 1000% supportive of me chasing my goals and building my dream job. I even ask him all the time if he thinks I’m making the wrong choice, to which he always responds something along the lines of “If you’re happy, its the right choice, we will make it work” and we do. He’s the best. ((swoons!))
So my mini reward for my mini risk, I guess, is that I have gained more control of my life anddd in the free time I did manage to pick up, I built my business to the point that I now have… no more free time… again. Time for change.
I have spent a large amount of pondering how to grow and improve my business. I started a Seth Godin course on building a freelance business a few months ago, and within the first 30 minutes I had taken this golden little nugget of knowledge from it. He talks about the different types of freelancers (I believe there were 4 or 5). After some self-reflecting, I decided I most identified with #1 (some of my friends and family beg to differ, they say I’m a little higher up on the list, some even said as high as 4, but for the sake of the argument… I was a 1. Number 1 is basically a passive participant in their trade. A “cog in the machine,” he calls it. You are involved in transactions that just come to you (aka Etsy- the sales just come to me. I put my stuff out there, people buy it. If im rejected, I rarely know it, no risk, no reward). I didn’t feel like I was putting myself in positions to be on a level 2 or 3 or certainly a level 4 (where people seek you out because of your unique abilities and style of work) but I wanted to be there. So, I decided I had to start focusing more on what I could do to reach those more advanced levels. I contacted local stores, started talking with other people about their businesses, and working to find new outlets to promote my skills and my business. Soon I had landed a cool opportunity with a local retailer that was willing to help me promote my items and even carry some of my merchandise through a wholesale partnership. Pretty awesome! And all I had to do was be willing to take the chance and ask the question, the least she could say was no, but the best she could do was totally change my approach to my business. So, that happened and is still happening and it’s awesome and I’m excited! Then, I realized: more avenues of promotion, more business, more time… more more more of everything, except there was no more free time and definitely no more Kristin to go around! So, I guess, as we say at our house, “the time has come the walrus said…”
About a month ago I began toying with the idea of taking on a larger level of involvement with a contract position that afforded me the opportunity to work from home and drop my desk job all together. Again, I got down to crunching numbers, feeling generally stressed and anxious, and then finally I just bit the bullet. I put together a timeline and gave my notice. My mom has always said I don’t spend much time tiptoing around decisions, so I suppose by the time it came down to formulating a plan, I had already made a decision that I was going to do it, as soon as the logistics worked out.
So, what does that mean? It means that, as of today, at 5:30 PM, EST, I will be pretty much solely responsible for making my dream work. I’ll be working from home, giving up lots of my “for sures” and taking on a lot of “hope sos” and “fingers crossed.” I keep referring to this change as a risk, but someone at work told me earlier this week that a risk is something you do with out having any idea what will happen. He was pretty blunt with me when he said he knew I had planned and prepared for this change, and that I knew what I had to do to keep the wheels turning. It wasn’t an unknown, it was a calculated, progressive step towards my future. I’ve crunched the numbers, I’ve made my spreadsheets, and my lists and my goal is set in stone – 30 or bust! Let’s do this thing.
Now for my shameless “acceptance speech” portion of this post and a business plug (DUH):
Guys, I’m SO thankful to even have the opportunity to pursue my goals, to have a family that loves and supports me through all the crazy, who allow me to bring my bags of supplies to do projects during family time and vacation, and support me when the crazies find their way to my shop, who help make buttons when the demand is high, and go to bridal shows and craft shows and give me honest feedback, the whole shebang! They are honestly THE BEST and I love them all. To my friends who have been awesome and liked or shared or purchased from my business’ facebook page or instagram, or my etsy shop or my website (YES CLICK THEM ALL, LIKE THEM ALL, USE THEM ALL!) you guys are amazing. I wouldn’t be here without each of those shares and likes and comments, purchases, reviews, etc, and I’m so grateful you’ve entrusted me with your projects large, and small AND that you refer me to your friends. If you HAVEN’T had the chance to check out my work, or use my services, I would be eternally thankful if you would give me a chance to show you my stuff, so to speak! I truly love what I do and I am so fortunate to be able to spend all my days doing it! Here’s to my awesome family, my amazing friends, and of course ke design studio!