As I sat down at my desk this morning and looked at my to-do list, I couldn't believe two things: how lucky I am to have full days of client work, and that I've already been pursuing my creative business full-time for a whole month.
If feels like just yesterday that I walked out of my office for the last time, just standing there for an idle moment in the parking lot muttering to myself, "Soak this little moment in. This is the moment you've waited for. Now, get in the car, turn up 'Roll Out (My Business)' by Ludacris on full blast and kick off the rest of your career."
(Yes, that really happened).
Over the last month I've learned a ton of valuable lessons about myself and my creative business, and today I want to share these lessons openly with you. These are honest words for my dear friends who are on the edge of taking the leap and need to know that it'll be OK; for my readers who aren't so sure if climbing the corporate ladder is for them; for fellow creative business owners who often feel isolated and overwhelmed by the journey.
01. At times, I'm my own worst boss.
Have you ever had one of those bosses who was Miranda-Priestly-dragon-lady levels of domineering, constantly barking demands, throwing bits of criticism your way and picking your work apart on a daily basis?
No? Good, me neither. Not until I began working for me, at least.
Almost immediately, I noticed that my inner dialogue of harsh and negative self-talk escalated ten-fold when it came to my client work and getting things done. I believe in setting the bar high, meeting deadlines and providing quality work, which are all wonderful things, but I lost sight of what realistic goals were for any given workday. I wanted to be perfect. I wanted to work 12-hour days without growing weary.
Since realizing this, I'm working on giving myself grace and starting fresh each workday. I'm working hard to silence my inner critic and talk her down with logic and reason. I'm continually reminding myself that I'm allowed to feel successful, happy and grateful for each little accomplishment along the way. I'm re-reading Jen Sincero's "You Are a Badass" to bolster my confidence and remember that I'm a human who needs to be kind to herself.
02. Digital nomadism is not for me.
In my first 4 weeks of full-time creative business ownership, I've been traveling 3 out of those 4 weeks. These were trips that had been planned since I was still working in my corporate role, and I told myself that I'd easily be able to transition to working remotely like a pro.
Working from a bachelorette party in Nashville was hard. Working from the car en route to Colorado was hard. Working from my father-in-law's house was hard. Working from my parent's house in Atlanta was the hardest.
As much as I admire and respect digital nomads for their ability to travel the world while looking awesome on Instagram and rocking their business, I've quickly learned that in order for me to produce my best work I need an established home base. And for me? That's in my cozy office with my trusty desktop and laptop here to help me out.
In time I'm confident that I'll acclimate better to working while on the go, but for now, I'm reserving hardcore travel for when I'm able to take a true vacation day or two.
03. Dress for success.
I'm not going to lie: I was really looking forward to the life of yoga pants and comfy clothes day in and day out, and for my first week or two, I was rocking that life hard.
And then I had a meeting scheduled one day, and got dressed and ready early in the morning and began one of the most productive workdays I've ever had. The next day, I tried the same thing: hair and makeup done, full outfit on and shoes on before settling into my home office. Bam – more productivity.
While I still opt for my go-to leggings from time to time, I've personally found that getting up and getting dressed and ready as I used to currently works best for me in terms of establishing a morning routine and feeling good about myself. Knowing that I could be ready to run out to an impromptu coffee meeting at the drop of a hat is a great feeling!
04. Be yourself, focus on you, and business will come.
This is the biggest one for me. Prior to my last day at my corporate job, I was in a constant state of panic trying to figure out who I would be once I was pursuing my own business full-time. "What would I look like on social media now that I'm full-time? Should I blog differently? Do I need to redo my website?"
It was pure craziness.
Thankfully, I let all of those questions fall to the wayside and continued to carry on exactly the way that I had been on social media, serving my audience to the best of my ability while refraining from screaming, "HELLO, I'M A FULL-TIME CREATIVE BUSINESS OWNER NOW, HIRE ME PLEASE!"
And you know what? New business came in abundance, and I feel so blessed because of it. In the last month I've taken on three new clients who I adore dearly and can't wait to serve, all of which are definitely who I would call an ideal client.
I firmly believe that this would not have happened if I had deviated from who I truly am on social media, on this website and beyond. So, if you're out there and find yourself comparing your business to others in the industry and are wondering if you need to conform to look or sound more like them, the answer is a resounding no. Stay in your own lane, hone your brand voice and brand identity, and you will attract your people – people who you'll love working with.
Thank you to everyone who has been so kind to me in this last month of change, growth and lessons learned. I truly appreciate the comments, Instagram messages and emails – and I've kept all of them! If you're about to take the leap into your own creative business and have any questions, I want to hear from you and cheer you on.