This Article Originally Published in FORBES on 3/23/2020
Why Now Is A Good Time To Be Your Own Boss—3 Tips To Get Started
These are uncertain times. Anxiety levels are up. People are nervous about layoffs, and how they will provide for themselves and their families in the future. Worry, coupled with having to stay home and isolate, can be a recipe for disaster. Knowledge workers with children and without school are doing two jobs at once. Unemployment claims last week were way up, and we don’t know exactly how much worse things could get, but it’s likely it will get much worse before it gets better. But here’s the upside, when one door closes, another one opens — even if it’s not obvious at the time. The challenge for all of us right now is making peace with uncertainty, and find out what this challenging moment is trying to teach us — or tell us. How can we come out of this experience stronger? Can we use these difficult days to dream up a better life?
I became my own boss when I was laid off from a Fortune 100 company. I cried and felt rejected for a while. But when the raw pain wore off, I realized I was now in a good enough position to start my own business, and that was the only way to have complete control of my future, forever. That was almost five years ago and I never looked back. Even with the world around us panicking, we try to keep a normal schedule at home, and continue to build the things we dreamed up years ago. Today I am eight months pregnant, and my entrepreneur husband and I are working at home with our three year old (whose school is closed), but we are making it work, on our terms. It’s not always easy, but we are trying to use this time to build rather than worry. We are professional speakers and all of my events I had already canceled months ago due to my own pregnancy travel restrictions, but Jacob has dozens of projects for his own business. We are all having to pivot, and keep our head up, but we keep going. Don’t let people tell you that a recession is a bad time to dream up a new business idea.
That said, when we have nothing to lose, and nothing but time, that can be a great time to dream, imagine and create a new vision for your future. With that in mind here are three tips to get your started on eventually becoming your own boss.
1. If you’re serious about your business idea, get feedback from successful people outside your family.
Many of our families, while being able to fulfill a lot of roles in our lives, do not have the business experience necessary to give us helpful feedback about business ideas. Something about being a relative can make it impossible to provide objective advice. I made decisions in my mid-twenties that completely shocked my family. I quit a job I had for five years and moved across the country to be with someone I met only one month prior (my husband Jacob, and that was ten years ago). I learned before that point to not ask my parents what they thought of my decisions, but simply tell them what I would be doing. Both of my parents have stayed in their professions their entire lives. My dad is a doctor that had one job and one employer for his 32 year career. My mother is an artist and art professor. Neither have any experience in business. One of the most important aspects in business is knowing when to take a risk, and having the gumption to do so. If you want to make any kind of impact on the world, you will need to take calculated risks.
2. Don’t Follow Your Passion, Bring It With You
This advice comes from Mike Rowe, formerly of the show “Dirty Jobs” who learned about passion from a pig farmer. He said the platitudes we post on our walls have little real business relevance. Passion fades as all businesses require a thick skin and strong stomach, and the romance – just like a new relationship – wears off. While I am passionate about customer experience, which was initially customer service, that is not what powers my business. Rather than me seeking jobs in customer experience, they found me. Eventually I realized the world wanted and needed more information on customer experience, and I simply kept saying yes. But I did not graduate college dancing and singing about customer experience. It was a marriage between what the market needed and what I was able to provide.
I’ve had three business ideas, and two businesses that actually made money. One of the businesses was a short-lived social media consultancy that I folded. One was the customer experience keynote speaking and content business I have now. But before these two business ideas I wanted to help empower girls and women with a business called “Project Enough.” The problem with this business idea was empowering girls and women is something I’m passionate about, but there was no viable business plan behind it. A friend I had met online gave me a business plan template, and I couldn’t finish filling it out. Eventually I realized the answer to my entrepreneurial future was right under my roof, literally. And it wasn’t “Project Enough.” My husband had been earning a living through speaking, advisory and content for years. He taught me how to get started, and even invested in it along the way. Now that I can pay my bills, I have more energy to simply give back to girls and women, and give advice or support where I can. I don’t need to make money from this, it’s just something I do because I enjoy it. I didn’t follow my passion, but I brought it with me.
3. Become Friends With Self-Accountability And See The Greatness It Brings Out In You
I prefer the stress of self-accountability to the stress of a full time job where you have to walk the tight-rope of politics, getting difficult personalities to like you and never knowing when you’ll be on the chopping block. Or worse having a boss that’s a jerk. When you build something yourself, work doesn’t always feel like work. You have to believe in yourself enough to get started, continually motivate yourself, and have good enough common sense when decisions need to be made. It requires discipline, just like anything worth having in life. While this moment is a bad time for many industries including the gig economy, we will get past this. After this storm passes, the freelance and gig worker economy will continue to boom, and it’s a wonderful time to be self-employed because there are so many resources to help you do so. Being self-employed brings out greatness in the individual. You might be surprised what you are capable of, and rise to the occasion when there is no parachute beneath you. Take calculated risks. When life gives you coronavirus lemons, make lemonade, and better yet, start your own lemonade stand. That said, I am launching a new podcast with my husband called the BYOB Podcast (Be Your Own Boss Podcast) in order to help struggling workers all over the world get started. Take your future back by becoming your own boss.
Blake Morgan is the co-host – alongside Jacob Morgan – of the brand new “Be Your Own Boss Podcast” (BYOB Podcast) that launches today. Listen here.