I left my employed-by-someone else job in November and have since started my own company. I’ve heard parenthood called “the longest shortest time” and while I have not birthed an actual child in the last 6 months, I have found that phrase fairly accurate describing bringing a company to life as well. Now that I have a roster of clients and full days, I find myself thinking “Wow! Everything came together so quickly!”. But there was that time (also known as all of February and the better part of March) where I wondered what the hell I was doing with my life and self-doubt occupied every corner of my brain.
When looking back at the decision I made to start a PR and Brand Development company and the time it took to make multiple Hamiltons, the stages to get here are pretty clear and they look a little like another 5 Stages. So I present to you…the 5 Stages of Starting a Business.
- Denial. No, I’m not really doing this. I can’t start a company. Starting a business is what other people do, other people who have better connections, are smarter and more successful than I am. People who are independently wealthy and probably really good at Excel. I am just taking this time to freelance until I find a stable salaried job with benefits and a 401k because I am an adult and those things matter. This isn’t really happening because no one would want what I have to offer, no one would pay real money for that. Nope, I am just in a transition time that is anything but starting a business.
- Anger. Why do I have to start a business? Why didn’t the companies I worked for in the past fulfill every need and goal I had? If they had their shit together, I would have stayed and made them millions of dollars and not had to go through figuring out what my next step was. Why doesn’t the business I want to start exist already? Shouldn’t someone have already done this and I could join their team? Why do I have to be the one to provide this solution for the market? Why didn’t I become a teacher/accountant/[insert other job with a (perceived) clear path] so that I knew where I was going to go with my career? This is complete crap. What is wrong with everybody, everything and what is wrong with me?!???
- Bargaining. Okay. So if I start my own company, I will be my own boss. I will be the sole factor in how much or little income I make. If I start my own company, I can choose who I work with and what projects I take on. I can work how I am comfortable working, create my own schedule. Not wear pants until 2pm if I don’t want to. Go for a run to work through any blocks I have (*likely while wearing pants). If I start my own company, I can create the business and life I want.
- Depression. This is never going to work. I am a huge failure. Worse than a failure, I am worthless and it’s comical that I ever thought I could do this. I’m not good enough to start a company. I am not worth the paper Lean In was printed on, let alone thinking I do anything a big CEO even did in their first internship. The only thing I am good for is raising my cat and that isn’t even going well. I am bad at folding laundry well and hate cleaning my shower. I have wasted so much time and money and it’s all for nothing because I am not good enough to do what I think I want to.
- Acceptance. I am starting my own company. I have started my own company. Every conversation, every relationship, every interaction, every success during my entire career was a brick building up to my company. My LLC is filed, I have a business credit card, and my website has been published. I have my own company. I have clients. I am giving out my business cards for MY business. I am telling people what I do, I am making connections. I am sending out emails, I am getting press, I am building strategies that are valuable. I set my own schedule, I burn the midnight oil, I have big wins, big learnings…and it’s all mine. Because I started a business.