Hello SOTGC community,
Anna Phillips did what so many of us did: she went to college and got a job in corporate America after graduation. She launched a career in IT as a system administrator. After several years, she received the dreaded pink slip. Goodbye regular paycheck. Goodbye guaranteed benefits.
Anna was at a cross-road. She had taken courses to become a massage therapist and loved it. But was that a way to make a living or was it only good enough for pocket money? Should she do what her peers were doing and look for another job? Or should she open her own business?
Phillips decided to follow her passion for massage therapy and work for herself. She landed a big client, early-stage Google, and caught the start-up bug. A few years later, she got married and moved to Texas with her new husband. You can take the girl out of the Silicon Valley, but you can’t take Silicon Valley out of the girl. She couldn’t get the entrepreneur bug she caught at Google out of her system. She went through another metamorphosis, evolving from contractor with one big corporate client (an arguable equivalent to being an employee) to being opening a business that served a community.
She took the plunge. She rented a space and opened up shop. Her clientele quickly grew. Phillips added on aesthetician services and her clients demanded more. She added on lash extensions and her business exploded. Since then, she has grown her business, The Lash Lounge, into a franchise.
Sounds straight forward and oh so easy, doesn’t it? Well, it wasn’t. Phillips had to dig deep to get to where she is today. I asked Phillips to share the factors Phillips believes contributed to her move from employee to entrepreneur. Here’s what she said:
- Drive and attitude. Was Phillips scared when she made the decision to start her own business? Of course she was. But she did it anyway. This was a decision that she didn’t make lightly. Like most sane people, Phillips was “riddled with fear” at the thought of forgoing a regularly paying job with health insurance and 401K contribution to being her own boss. Internal conversations consisted of the questions one might expect, “Will I make money? Will I be able to pay my bills?” With each entrepreneurial investment, Phillips’ drive and can-do pragmatism enables her to grow her business on her own terms.
- Strong will and lifestyle changes. If you are going to move from a regular paycheck to no guaranteed income, you have to rethink your lifestyle. Phillips sold her luxury car, got out of her lease, and downsized on all expenditures. “If you are not willing to make those tough lifestyle sacrifices, to give up the luxuries,” says Phillips, “if that scares you, then life as an early stage entrepreneur won’t happen.” Phillips was willing to give things up in order to get what she wanted further down the road.
- Unwavering passion and optimism. You have to be in love with the purpose of your business. Starting and running a business is a rollercoaster ride where you are the driver and a passenger. You also the maintenance person, the engineer, and housekeeper… There are going to be days that you don’t want to deal with a bad situation. Phillips says, “When you are doing something you are passionate about, you don’t mind. You will scrub the toilets or take that call with an angry client.
- Skill level alignment and continuous learning. You have to align what you know how to do with what you want to do. If you don’t understand the business you are about to build, you can’t excel at it. “The beauty business is where it started from,” says Phillips. “If I couldn’t have given a massage, it wouldn’t have been a career move for me.” You have to know your client and your business better than anyone else. Put your energy into learning your passion.
- Common sense. Just because you are good at something and you are passionate about it, doesn’t mean customers will come. Phillips worked from a plan. She started organically, focusing on building a lean business. You can’t spend money you don’t have. Make decisions about investments accordingly. To help make the right decisions, have a business plan for when you are successful and another for how you will stay afloat when you when/if you are not making money. Phillips advises, “You have to have this in place because it’s always not going to success for you.”
YOUR TURN: What factors have helped you transition from employee to entrepreneur? Leave a comment below or reach out to Anna at @TheLashLounge or Patti at @pkfletcher.