You could say it was a Perfect Storm that led me to the decision to leave my long and successful career as a corporate IT project manager and become an entrepreneur starting my own consultant business. Actually, it was a series of perfect storms during the record breaking snows in Boston in the winter of 2015. During one of them (I lost count!) I decided to start a consulting practice leveraging my years of experience as an IT project manager to serve nonprofit organizations.
I want to briefly explore my journey to entrepreneurship, hoping that these words may inspire others. It’s certainly been fun and exciting, with both ups and downs, doubts and successes. And it’s a decision that has challenged me to grow as a businesswoman, a leader and a person.
Not Regrets, but Lessons Learned
As someone who thinks deeply about all of life’s stuff I usually have a million thoughts running in all directions in my head, and yet, I’ve never carried around a lot of guilt or regrets about life. In every situation I strive to maintain my high standards by giving all that I can at the moment and consider it good enough.
Now, don’t for one minute think that I don’t reflect back on and draw conclusions from conversations and other human interactions; I do. It’s really important to analyze and process past experiences, and to adjust the future accordingly, and I do.
But it’s usually not helpful to retrospectively beat up on myself or anyone else.
Insight: Focus on what happened, what you’ve learned and try to figure out how to make the next time better.
I call myself a pragmatic optimist because I intuitively believe that I will successfully get through the hard times while fully understanding and accepting that it will be hard.
This brand of optimism is practical because it acknowledges that life won’t always go as planned and unforeseen things will happen. It’s optimistic because I have a strong belief in myself, my family and friends to rally round each other to get through the down times and come out better on the other side of them (remember lessons learned!)
My pragmatic optimism carries over to work situations where I not only tell my colleagues that we WILL fix this, but then work with them to figure out how to fix it.
Insight: Stay positive. Believe in yourself, keep your eye on the goal and work like hell.
You Are Not Alone
One of the smartest things that I did in becoming an entrepreneur was to hire Carole Copeland Thomas as my life coach and fully utilize the consulting services of Marcy Tannenbaum-Fox. Both of these women helped me tremendously on this journey by being a sounding board, providing constructive feedback, and bringing objectivity into the picture.
I must also thank my sister Gail Latimore, who eagerly listened and leveraged her many years as a nonprofit executive to give me advice and connections that got the ball rolling.
Insight: You don’t have to do everything yourself. There’s a big world of people out there willing and able to help you along the way. Take advantage.
Great entrepreneurs are inspiring leaders with high emotional intelligence. This means that they are good listeners and have strong empathy for people. They accurately read non-verbal cues and respond accordingly, and know when and how to ask the right questions.
Entrepreneurs who want to build successful long-term businesses must train themselves to develop strong emotional intelligence as it is a critical part of forging strong relationships based on trust. As business consultant Robert Middleton says, we “must offer (not talk about) … our attention, our expertise and our resources” to our clients.
Insight: Listen, listen and listen some more. This is not about you, it’s about your clients.
Confidence and Strong Work Ethic
Let’s be 100% real. Running your own successful business is really hard work. It can also be very rewarding, energizing and profitable.
To weather the down times and do all of the necessary work requires that entrepreneurs have a supreme amount of confidence in themselves, their products/services and the value that they offer. This isn’t a boastful arrogant type of confidence, but a confidence born of knowing and believing in your talents and abilities to make a positive difference in the world.
Insight: Yes, you can do it! It will take a lot of work, and when you’re ready … yes, you can!
It’s Time; The Right Time
I was lucky because the perfect storm happened for me, and I know that this is 100% the right time for me to launch my business.
But, the “perfect time” rarely happens for anything and I’m not suggesting that you sit around waiting for it. When it’s time for you to become an entrepreneur, do it with all your might, and you will find the resources and energy reserves necessary to carry you through the tough and trying times.
It’s been an incredible and exciting journey which I hope will inspire you to explore all of your options, to dream big and to seriously consider becoming your own boss.
Insight: The time is never “right.” Just do it!