Article written by Lynnette LaRoche
As Paula sits in her corner office, she gazes down at the picture of her and her tween daughter Annalisa in the kitchen making their popular, yummy cupcakes. She shakes off a shiver when she thinks about the conversation she had with her daughter about starting their own bakery featuring their cupcakes.
How many times has she promised herself that this would be the year that she quits, that she retires from her corporate job as Senior Director of Marketing. This year, this month, this day … it never comes. How can she really leave behind her safety net – all the great benefits she enjoys from her employer?
This story is a familiar one, especially for women. Men are 2 times as likely to be entrepreneurs than women, and as early as in their college life, more than double the men than women have already started a business.
Why the disparity? It is multifold. Women are more likely to fear failure than men. The fear of rejection is a significant reason why women don’t make the leap from corporate to living the life they dream of as a business owner. Some women are afraid to hear family and friends tell them that they must be a loon to leave “such a great career/job!”
There is the fear of being made obsolete – that if they left a “good” corporate job, that if entrepreneurship did not work out, that they will no longer be able to reintegrate in corporate or find a job comparable to the one they left. Or is it the fear of being selfish to bet on herself, to take a risk to live a life of her own design?
But let’s drop the psychedelic elephant – women are more likely not to feel good enough to leave corporate and go out on their own, even with all of their accomplishments proving otherwise.
So, how do women make their dreams of going solo come true? How do they free themselves of the golden handcuffs – that false sense of assurance we have when we glorify the company benefits that we think are going to make the rest of our lives comfortable? How do they break the mindset that there is security in corporate (because we all know how many successful corporate employees lost their jobs during the pandemic!)?
To help you unlock the golden handcuffs, I’ll go through the critical pieces that need to be addressed as you consider leaving the life of corporate for a life you’re more passionate about.
1 Get serious about the life that you want to live!
If you want to start your own business, start researching the viability of your dream business. Can that passion be turned into a profit? By creating a clear vision of your business, including the type of person who would personify your ideal customer, to whom you would be selling your product or service. Know who your competitors are and how you can differentiate your product or service from theirs.
2 Walk the talk.
Drop the wishful thinking and start working on your new business, either in your mornings, evenings, or weekends.
3 Start building your audience.
With almost everyone using some form of social media, connecting with potential clients has never been easier, but will still require some work. Join Facebook groups where your ideal customer may be in. Host rooms on Clubhouse. Create a blog. Apply to be a guest on podcasts in your niche. There are just so many options.
Start saving money. Determine how much money you will need to continue a similar lifestyle to what you have now. Start reducing non-essential expenses to help you build up your financial fund to cover your monthly obligations. Cutting back or eliminating elaborate cable TV services, eating out more than 3 days per week, daily specialty coffee, elite gym memberships are a few examples.
5 You need the right mindset, boss lady!
Yes, you! You have managed multiple projects with competing timelines. You have led global teams. You are a problem solver. You’ve overcome challenges. You have mastered influence and persuasion. You have delivered time and time again on corporate objectives. You have amassed skills from working in corporate that are easily transferable to building a business. You will use these very same skills as an entrepreneur.
Don’t go it alone on this journey. Call all your girls! Connect with other women on a similar journey for emotional, informational, instructional and appraisal support. Reach out to associations in your area of interest for support and expert advice. Get to know small business owners in your community. They can provide additional support and insight on your journey.
7 Be open to learning new skills.
As a business owner, you will need to learn new skills unless you have the funds to delegate or outsource those needs such as website design, content creation, photography for your goods/physical products, or sales.
8 Finally, you’ll need a transition plan.
Develop your exit strategy from corporate. Spell out in your transition plan what you need to have in place prior to giving corporate notice that you are breaking free of the golden handcuffs. Your transition plan should incorporate a timeline to exit. Yes, you must set a date for your exit. It should include the income (from paying clients) that you must generate each month and/or the amount you must have saved to be able to cover your expenses for 9-18 months before you quit your job. Include an estimate of how long you must be successfully running your business before you quit your job.
The same as you face challenges in your corporate job, you should expect to face challenges in entrepreneurship as well.
With planning, consistent action that serves the good of your business and some hard work, you can break free of the golden handcuffs of corporate and live the life of your own design.
One of the sources that I used to support this article is women-dont-let-fear-prevent-you-from-starting-your-own-business. It is directed at younger women, but I feel it is even more relevant to older women since we have spent our lives living by roles proscribed for us. Another supporting source is women-entrepreneurs/five-barriers. The common themes in most sources for women are fear of failure and fear of rejection (not being good enough).
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Lynnette LaRoche is the founder and CEO of Lynnette LaRoche LLC featuring her signature LaRoche Method. She is a business strategist who leads high-performing women, over 50, who are ready to break free from a corporate career and create a successful second-act for their life by their own design. In her decades-long career in biopharma/biotech, Lynnette led teams across multiple disciplines in her industry, all across the world.