Written by: Clare Tries, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
I was one of those who believed that a few weeks of lockdown would be the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. I wasn't concerned when things closed down, and I felt lucky. Working from home full-time pre-pandemic, I didn't have to worry about losing my income. When the schools closed, it was tough having three kids at home while trying to work. But, it was short-term, so I knew I could survive this. Then March turned into April, which turned into May, and the reality of how a pandemic unfolds hit me hard. That dawning realization that this wasn't going to be over anytime soon felt like a sucker punch. It manifested itself in a lot of anger and bitterness. I was short-tempered, I cried a lot, and I questioned everything about my new reality.
Leaving a stable job amid an economic crisis wasn't my first plan. However, it ended up being the change I needed. I was laid off a few weeks into the lockdown. Juggling full-time work with two kids was tough. Add online learning with a newly crawling baby to the mix; dedicating myself to an 8-5 became impossible. On top of that, my job was not fulfilling. I longed to focus the little energy I had on something that fueled my soul. When it came time to decide if I would go back, I chose not to. It was time for me to start something new, to build something that would make me proud.
Reality Check: Part 2
Saying goodbye to a stable income during such an uncertain time in the world was cathartic. If I could build a successful business during a pandemic, I could do anything! But could I do this? Hello, impostor syndrome. Who did I think I was taking such a gamble during this chaotic time? What if I fail and my family suffers? Maybe I should have stuck with a comfortable, stable income and made this change after COVID-19 was over. The constant self-doubt was a real struggle!
The only way to overcome self-doubt is to keep taking action and celebrating the small wins. I was digging out in the garden one morning and listening to a podcast talking about a training course. Covered in dirt and sweat, I felt a determination to keep propelling myself forward. So, I enrolled in the training. Then, I built a website. After that, I collected testimonials from previous work experience. I started talking about what I was doing on all of my social media accounts. After signing my first client through a freelancer platform for TERRIBLE pay, I celebrated anyway. After an awful experience with the first graphic designer I partnered with, I refused to give up. I joined Facebook groups and kept looking until I found the fantastic graphic designer I partner with today. No matter what obstacles I faced, I kept taking steps forward. And, I celebrated every win along the way, no matter how small.
Three months into my new business venture, I signed my first big client. They came to me through spreading the word on social media. They needed help with their marketing initiatives, and I couldn't have been more excited to tell their story. This win was the confidence booster I needed to focus on the "right" type of client. I stopped saying "yes" to every opportunity that came my way. I said goodbye to all the low-paying work I was doing on freelancer platforms. Soon, I sought opportunities to speak for groups of companies that fit my ideal client profile. My business gained momentum that I couldn't stop. Today, I write this article in the dark and quiet early morning hours. It's been five months since I started my journey. I have a team of five people who work with me on multiple projects. I have doubled the comfortable, stable income that I was afraid of leaving behind. More than all of that, I have the pleasure of focusing my energy on work that I love every day. And I have the flexibility to support my children and spend more time with my family. I have found happiness and fulfillment during a worldwide pandemic. Who would have thought that was possible?
How You Can Do It Too
If you feel uninspired, tired, burnt out, unfulfilled, and unhappy about the work you are doing, maybe it's time for a change. Give yourself some quiet space to focus inward. What would you feel happy dedicating your energy to for the foreseeable future? Is it time for something new?
If you are ready to take a leap of faith in yourself, here are some tips to get you started:
Cover your bases. I was lucky to have a partner earning a stable income when I started my journey. This stability allowed us to lose my income for a few months before I started bringing in regular work. Make a plan for your finances. Or, dedicate yourself part-time to your new venture until you can afford to leave your job. Also, don't forget to look into government grants that might be available to you. Grants or financial help might be a great way to get your new business off the ground.
Keep moving forward. Building a business from the ground-up can be a grind. Don't lose faith and don't lose momentum. Keep doing at least one thing every day to move forward, even if it's small. On days when you feel inspired, get as much done as you can!
Educate yourself. Don't be afraid to invest in yourself. Seek out training programs that will help you position yourself as a capable expert. But, be careful not to fall victim to well-advertised program ads on social media. There are a LOT of training programs out there; take your time, and do your research to ensure the training is right for you. Read books regularly – at least one per month is an excellent place to start. Get an Audible subscription so you can listen to books and easily take notes. Get addicted to learning!
Look after yourself. As a mom starting a business during a pandemic, life was hard to juggle! There were days when I would realize I couldn't remember the last time I showered. Don't forget to take some time for yourself, or you will burn out fast. I started practicing mindfulness meditations and going for walks every day. The stress of enduring a pandemic while building a business caused significant anxiety for me. I had to find a way to mitigate that. Carve out time for yourself to do something just for you.
Talk about what you are doing. When you decide to dedicate yourself to building a new business, share this news with the entire world—post about it on all of your social media accounts. Join groups on Facebook and in your local business community. And most importantly, bring value by sharing as much free information as you can. When you join groups and offer valuable information that helps the other members, people will notice. When you join groups and post-sales pitches with links to your website, you will get lost in the noise. Don't give away everything, but make sure what you share is genuinely helpful.
Fear and Courage
I allowed fear to stop me from launching my business a lot sooner than I could have, and that's okay. The point is, I started. It doesn't matter when you decide to fight fear with action. All that matters is that you eventually find the courage to take that first step into the unknown.
So, what are you waiting for? As Charles Dederich once said, "today is the first day of the rest of your life."
Clare Tries, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Clare Tries is an internationally sought after copywriter and marketing strategist who helps organizations harness the power of marketing to grow their business. She does this by clarifying their story and creating a clear, concise message to guide all marketing initiatives. Clare has a BAH in psychology from Queen’s University. She served in leadership roles for multiple Canadian corporations and today owns a marketing agency called Clash Copy Corp. Clash Copy provides marketing services for businesses of any size or industry, but they have a unique specialization serving technology companies.