About a year and a half ago I quit a six-figure job, gave up a pretty sweet office space and a lot of perks, and decided to make it on my own.
At points it's been terrifying.
But I can say, without a doubt, that if I had to do it all over again there is only one thing I would change:
I would do it sooner.
And I would go back and share some of what I've learned with my past self.
Since I can't do that, I'll share it with you:
1. Don't panic--or at least let your panic motivate you.
I started my business with two large clients. One was my former employer, and the other was a business I had a longstanding consulting relationship with.
Then in the same month they both left me.
One was unexpectedly (at least to me) acquired, and the other decided to go a different direction and bring the marketing and public relations services I was providing in-house.
The result was that I was left, at that moment, without a dependable income--for the first time in my entire adult life. I grew up poor, and I know what government cheese tastes like. I've always managed my career with one overarching objective:
To make sure my kids never know what government cheese tastes like.
I panicked. I applied to be an Uber driver. I started contacting anyone I had previously worked with who might be a potential client. I became much more flexible in the type of clients I worked with.
Most people would tell you not to panic--but panic can be incredibly motivating. It was for me.
If you become an entrepreneur, you will have moments where panic is the only sane response.
Just make sure your next step after panic is action.
2. Focus on what you can control.
The entire lifespan of my company has occurred during the most tumultuous and uncertain presidential election in recent history.
Entrepreneurs and the economy in general do not like uncertainty--and regardless of your opinion on the outcome of the election, the one thing all of us can agree on is that we have entered an uncertain era.
But you know what?
Uncertainty is a part of life and existed long before this election.
And the future is always unknown.
Besides that, there is little I or you can personally do to unilaterally change the course of world events. We can vote. We can have a voice.
But ultimately the world is beyond our control.
However, we can control the decisions we make.
So rather than worrying about events that are beyond your control, start creating a business that can navigate--or even thrive in--uncertain times.
3. I could never, ever go back.
At one point during these 18 months I had an opportunity to leave my company and join another firm. They were and are a rapidly growing company, with a culture I like. This firm is also led by people I admire and respect, and they offered me a well-paid leadership position.
That offer came during one of those moments when I was a little nostalgic for a bit more economic security than entrepreneurship offers--particularly during the first 18 months of a new company.
In the end, I couldn't take it.
I love what I'm doing now too much.
I love that I get to decide the direction of our company.
I love signing my paycheck--and signing the paychecks of others.
I love that I get to plan our first company Christmas Party, for our tiny staff of three.
I love that there are some things I can control, even if there are a lot of things I can't.
And I could never, ever go back.