Thirteen years ago, I found myself suddenly single while expecting my first child. Certainly, this wasn’t the storybook vision I’d had about pregnancy and creating a family. But, I’d always been a survivor. I sure as heck wasn’t about to stop being one now.
Once I came to terms with the relationship’s demise, I had my next panic: How on earth am I going to be a great mom to this new, little person while sticking with my demanding corporate career?
I pondered and stewed, bargained and reasoned. After ruminating for longer than I care to admit, I came up with what seemed to be the only answer: Quit my day job. So, one month after my daughter’s birth — and with plenty of pushback from my risk-averse parents — I did. In honor of Working Parents’ Day (Sept. 16), I decided to share the story.
The Six-Month Gamble
At the time of my decision, I’d been working as an account manager for a local recruiting agency. It was a good job. I liked the people. I liked the clients. I was doing well. But the hours, the data-entry requirements and the mere fact that I had to show up (dressed) somewhere every day just weren’t working.
My boss had very generously given me the option to work from home two days a week, which helped, but I was a complete stress case, trying to perform at my job and perform as a new mom. (And, can we talk about the lack of sleep? Hoo boy.)
So, I created a business plan that was barely more than a napkin scrawl, and then made the bold decision to start my own recruiting agency from home. To prove to myself and my family that I wasn’t completely nuts, I created six months of breathing space by taking out a home equity line of credit (HELOC) on my house that would cover my minimal living expenses for that period. I told myself that if I was unable to make it work in that window of time, I’d go find another corporate job.
And then I launched.
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Exhilaration Meets Terror
I set up shop in my spare bedroom, poured a coffee and dove into my first week on the job. It was exhilarating and absolutely terrifying. But I had something to prove and two mouths to feed (five, if you count the dog and two cats), so it was go-time.
It took me three months to close my first deal (translation: zero income for three months). I had so many doubts about my sanity across this timeframe. But once I had that first deal under my belt, I knew it was possible.
Finding Footing as an Entrepreneur
In my first year as an entrepreneur, I nearly doubled my income while working part-time from home. I learned how to be a mom, a business owner, and how to balance the demands of work and family. It wasn’t easy, but it was so much easier than not having control over my time.
I’ve been an entrepreneur since, steadily growing two businesses over the years. And, all the while, I’m able to set my own hours, carve out time for my husband and kids (I now have three), and be present in their activities and lives.
Finding work and family balance isn’t easy, but my (arguably crazy) decision to ditch my job and strike out on my own 13 years ago has enabled me to earn a great living and be the best working parent that I know how to be.
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