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Many people wonder how I was able to quit my 9-5 to work for myself. It was one of the best decisions I made in my life. The journey to get to where I am not wasn’t the smoothest ride but everything was well worth it. So, how did I do it? Lets go on a mini blog journey…
MY EX 9-5:
I went to Hampton University and majored in nursing. Some people are probably like “Well how the hell did she end up doing what she is doing? And why would you leave a secure job for a risky one?”. I had a few nursing jobs which were great, with benefits, making good money BUT I was not fully satisfied with my jobs. I always told people that I felt my personality was too big to be confined in the walls of a hospital. I would wake up and I had the same routine: get up at 6am- shower- get dressed- eat- pack a lunch- get on the 2 train to get to work- walk though Manhattan to my job- work- leave work- go home- eat dinner- maybe hangout with friends- go to sleep and do it again the next morning. I see you shaking your head because you feel me lol. Thats your current routine probably! Well, I was tired of the routine. I was tired of asking if I could have a longer break. I was tired of asking if I could have off for certain days to go on vacation. I was just tired of it all. Mostly, I was tired of working my butt off to fuel someone else’s dreams. I too had a lot of ideas and I felt like I could pull them off.
THE BIG DECISION:
I started my jewelry business (Melanie Marie) in 2009, and that was my side hustle at the time. I used to sneak and work on Melanie Marie while I was at my real job. I was constantly researching how to perfect my craft. I was looking up how to trademark my name, market research, best shipping techniques, custom packaging and anything else you can think of to make sure I was doing the damn thing. I was trying to make sure I was on point, even if it was just my side hustle. At the time when I was really ready to leave my job, someone presented me with an idea I felt was major and I couldn’t pass up. It was to open a Greek paraphernalia boutique in an area where one did not exist but had a huge Greek community. I thought of adding an extra element to the store by making it half Greek merchandise, half regular boutique items. This seemed like such a hit to me!
Me and my boutique grand opening (2012)
I am the type of person that gets an idea and immediately acts on it. I am a dreamer AND a doer! I immediately got to work on this idea. The more and more I got done and the deeper and deeper I got, I was positive I wanted to quit my job and pursue my entrepreneurial endeavors full time. It was just a matter of when and how. People often ask me how did I know when it was the right time to quit. One of the main things I made sure was that I had money saved up. I feel like its safe to quit your job, when your side hustle is making as much or more money than your job. As I started plotting my exit, I just kept stacking my bread. I wanted to make sure I was able to sustain myself for a few months at least. To put things in perspective, I started contemplating leaving my job in the summer so I began to save. I put in my two weeks notice in October and I had enough money saved to last me until about Feb/March. The boutique was set to open in January so I figured that would bring in some money as well. I made a super bold move, but I was confident. I didn’t consult with any friends and family because I didn’t want to hear anyone tell me it wasn’t a good idea.
The boutique started off great but then things got rocky. Having a storefront can be tough especially if you are undercapitalized (which I was). You have numerous expenses – rent, electric, cable and internet, heat, etc. It can get very overwhelming, quick. Those store bills are in addition to your home bills, so it is double everything. I had to end up closing the store and I decided to just focus on my Melanie Marie accessory company full time and go hard with that. Melanie Marie is an commerce business with no overhead expenses so that was a plus for me at the time. I got a side job to stack some more money up. You may be wondering why I just didn’t quit and go back to nursing. I didn’t want to quit because I truly believed in myself. Before I knew it, my jewelry company was booming and I got rid of the side job. When I was 26 years old I was able to purchase my first home. Looking back, never giving up was an awesome thing I did.
Me setting up my Melanie Marie merchandise in the boutique (2013)
WEIGHING MY OPTIONS:
My family is big into going to school, getting an education, getting a job with benefits and live happily every after. Giving up a secure salary and benefits was a superrrr tough decision. I knew that I would be financially worse off for a few months, and there was a possibility that I would never match my salary, but for me the lifestyle of working for myself would make up for it. There were plenty of days of not eating good and struggling. I think it takes a certain type of person to be able to quit their job and leave everything on the table to work solely for themselves. You have to be incredibly motivated, disciplined and hard working. No matter what obstacles come your way, you have to keep on keeping on because you and only you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. If you quit your job and then as soon as you don’t have a boss or deadlines to meet, you start sleeping in, netflix and chillin, then its time for you to take your ass back to work. I spend most of the day working. Whether its sending a quick email, writing a blog post, shipping orders, or consulting with one of my coaching clients….I AM NEVER NOT WORKING! There is no one telling me what needs to be done and when it needs to be done by. When you are your own boss you have only yourself to rely on, so you need to really love and be passionate about what you do. I love everything I do, so I make sure shit gets done.
THE REWARDS OF IT ALL:
In the years that I have worked for myself, I have accomplished so much. My jewelry business has been featured in major magazines, been in dozens of blogs, been worn by so many celebs and I have been able to live comfortably off the money I make. In the last few years, I started business mentoring/coaching, I launched a custom baby jewelry line (AnnDrew Marie) and I started this blog. It is undeniable that having your own business or full time blogging provides a nice lifestyle. I get comments like, “Wow, you are so lucky to get to vacation so often.” or “I wish I could stay home all day” and yes, I am lucky, but I’ve worked so hard and had to go through so much to get to where I am. It may look awesome on the outside, but people really don’t know the behind the scenes work that goes into it. Being my own business means independence. I can work from anywhere as long as I have wifi and electricity. If I don’t feel like responding to emails when I get up, I can edit photos or package orders. There is always something I can be doing. With the freedom, comes a lot of responsibility, and most days I don’t get a lot of sleep because I have to stay up late working since I couldn’t get much done during the day due to taking care of the baby. I work everyday and my mind is always thinking of my next move. I never stopped learning either. I am always teaching myself new things. I watch so many webinars and I stay on top of everything so I stay sharp. I taught myself how to make websites, how to create and maintain this blog, how to do website coding etc. I am proud to say I have 4 streams of income and about to launch my 5th.
ALL IN ALL:
Personally, taking the leap into entrepreneurship was the best thing I could’ve ever done. I believed in myself and never gave up. If plan A didn’t seem to be working out, I was on to plan B and so forth. Life is short so why not spend it doing what you love. Now, I am not encouraging you all to go out and quit your job tomorrow. Don’t go into work, flip your desk over and say F this lol. What I am saying is, if you don’t enjoy what you do, change it. Do something that excites you. You can start by making your passion your side hustle and if you see if going somewhere, create a plan to make it your main!
Here are five signs you should be working for yourself:
- You see a better way to do things – when the cognitive dissonance between the way you see things done at work vs the way you know they should be done (i.e. the smarter way) gets too great, it will truly bother you and frustrate you to no end. That will consist of emotional energy being drained. Why not create a better way to do it by making a business out of it?
- You find yourself going off-book too often – If your solutions to business problems are at odds with you companies rules and policies more than 50% of the time and you begin to sneak around the company to serve clients, it may be time to do your own thing.
- You love to start things, but not maintain them – many people take new jobs for the creative challenges, but then after time the creative challenges dry up and get boring. If you love to design new things and solve problems but hate to maintain systems, thats a sign that you need a job where you are always inventing.
- Workplace bureaucracy is killing you – if too many people are wired the same and a mojo free workplace is crushing your spirit, it may be time to go.
- You have a big idea – Your big idea will never see the light of day at your present employer. Save it for yourself and start a business from it.
If you are planning to ditch your job, here are some of my tips:
- Curb your ego – you cannot start a business if you don’t have your priorities straight and ego in check.
- Always be prepared for the worst case scenario – think each decision through and plan for the worst so you aren’t caught off guard. Don’t get caught slippin!
- Make sure your business isn’t a bottomless pit – start a business with few monetary demands in the beginning. One mistake I made with the boutique was being undercapitalized when I first began. Big mistake. You will hit rock bottom fast that way.
- Become a brilliant cheapskate – if you want to start a business, you need to change the way you spend money.
- DON’T PARTNER WITH JUST ANYONE- man I should scream this from the mountain tops. I had to learn this the hard way. I had a partner who was the worst partner ever. I took out loans because my partner had bad credit and when things went south, my partner ran for the hills like a true coward leaving me with all of the debt.
- Phones won’t ring themselves- you have to go hard for yourself because no one else will. You have to always market yourself and your business.
- Stop listening to your friends and family thinking you need to validate your degree!
I officially started business coaching and mentoring, because lets face it – who better to learn from then someone who has been there and done it. Why not learn the exact formula someone else did so you can avoid the same mistakes. These last 8 years in business have been a whirlwind but I wouldn’t trade any of them for anything. There is nothing better then actually witnessing all of your dreams coming true.
To sign up for my business coaching and mentoring, visit MELANIE MARIE.
For all my mompreneurs, check out my post: The Life of Mompreneurs.