Knowing when to jump
Owning a business isn’t for everyone. But for those thinking of starting a business, or those who do not have in-house corporate advisors, yet, this series will share a bit of my story; the linchpin decisions that helped me catapult my business, my colossal missteps, and what I would do differently now.
How do you know you’re ready?
After working with somewhere north of 500 clients, I’ve never heard a repeated answer. You’ll feel that curiosity you can’t shake. A major, if not the major component to entrepreneurship is knowing when to roll the dice and follow that gut feeling. Frankly, if you can’t pull the trigger, that’s an answer.
I shared about my own Seachange moment. I never was the same after being berated by that judge- not because of anything he said, but because something inside my viscerally snapped, and exposed that intuitive curiosity. In that moment in the courtroom, I remember knowing in my gut that nothing would be the same.
To give you a timeline, that happened in October. At that point, I was really, really sick with a horrific condition. I couldn’t eat solid food, and it consisted of protein powder and broth for the rest of the year.
In January, I slowly regained the ability to eat some. I regained enough strength to be able to drive 4 hours away and for an all-day deposition, and drive home. Something happened to me on that drive though. I was listening to the book “Garden City” by John Mark Comer, and somewhere in the panhandle of Oklahoma, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was going to start my own law firm.
I didn’t know how to start a law firm. I didn’t even know anyone who had; I didn’t know if I was “allowed”.
This was different than starting a side hustle. I knew that taking this jump would risk everything for my new husband and I. It was risking everything I had ever worked for- the job and career I had always wanted. It was going to require that I learn how to be a rainmaker-on the fly. I even took a “strengths and weaknesses” test for those who sell professional services, and it flagged my ability to “find and retain clients as my lowest skill. And finally, I knew it would absolutely torch my reputation among my colleagues, meaning I would be so very alone. (A cornerstone to the practice of law is the ability to confer with colleagues- it’s called the “practice” of law for a reason).
Reputation is integral to power. So much depends on reputation—guard it with your life. With a strong reputation, you can influence and intimidate others. Beware of attacks on your reputation and squelch them immediately.Robert Greene
And yet, I knew I was doing this. I just knew, intuitively that I had to; I was supposed to.
So, by March, after 2 months of personal study, I told my husband. To this day, I’ll never know how he was so supportive; other than to say, when you spend your first wedding anniversary at Mayo Clinic undergoing test after test, and literally starving, it adds an element of hard-earned wisdom.
At that point I was:
- Giving up my paycheck, which our newlywed household needed
- Knew no one who had done this
- Knew no one in the industry I wanted to enter
- And was blowing up my reputation in my local legal community. There would be few I’d be able to ask for help (or for a job, if I failed)
I don’t think this is necessarily true for everyone, but for some of us, when you’re willing to throw the dice and risk it all, and you still can’t shake it, it’s time to jump. Because when it’s sink or swim, you learn how to swim-fast.