Many of you who follow me on Instagram know that as of Nov 1, 2019– I went all-in on Borderlands Bakery. Up until that point, I had a super solid career in biotech and was quite “successful” by the traditional/socially normal definition (skillset, recognition, leadership, fulfillment, money).
I have an Instagram highlight on this– scroll to my bio and check out the “#iquitmydayjob” stories for a candid chat of my thoughts .. (you may need to scroll right since I have many highlights in my bio)
… These videos were taken on my drive into the office the day I gave notice–though I went in with the intent of discussing how to make it another 6 months, my target quitting time was around Feb/Mar 2020!! But life has a lovely way of surprising us all.
Side Note– my last day with corporate America was Nov. 1, 2019. My husband’s last day with Corporate America was Oct. 31, 2019. What a shit show of emotions that was. We’ll need to circle back to this another time! This is us last week — happy to be here with you all. And yes– Brian is now a part of the Borderlands Bakery team coding up special projects for the community 🙂
I had already been massively overextended for 3 years now balancing two jobs (plus… sort of a life) and it was starting to take its toll. I wasn’t at my best and couldn’t give my all to any one thing. I was starting to miss appointments and miscommunicate my needs. I was giving up opportunities for Borderlands Bakery left and right in an attempt to give my “day job” the priority, yet I wasn’t performing at a level that I’m satisfied at either jobs OR life. Although happy and grateful for my situation, I also felt frustrated and incredibly stressed. Something had to give.
The time had come for me to put all the eggs into my own basket. And so I did! It’s been a whirlwind recently but I wanted to take some time to share some wisdom I’ve gained in this transition. I want to focus this post on the top 5 things I considered very seriously before taking the plunge, and I hope this provides another perspective in your decision-making process as you figure out whether or not you want to pursue your own gig full-time.
Please note that I’m very specific about highlighting each of these things as they suited ME. You should thoughtfully consider how they fit YOU as you read through this.
- Know your money, inside out and be realistic.
- I put together excel sheets of my income streams and spending, I knew exactly what we were spending on how much and when. Do this for the last year and you’ll start to see patterns, I promise. It’s not fun and takes time but absolutely worth it.
- I minimized my spending to the best of my ability and what I defined as acceptable for how I want to live life. (This. Is. Huge.)
- I put together a 6-month savings fund. If I made zero cents for the next 6 months, my husband and I would be fine.
- I started to explore options for health insurance and retirement for the self-employed. To this day I’m not 100% set of the retirement part but it will get handled soon.
- I wrote down all my Borderlands Bakery revenue streams and had a benchmark for how much I needed to make in order to quit– it had to be consistently more than what I was making at my day job for 6 months.
- Have an unwavering support system.
- It’s very hard to accomplish difficult things when people around you are not behind you 100%. This can be your spouse, children, people at your existing job, extended family, friends, anyone who you interact with on the regular. In my mind — my friends/family could:
- A. Support me 100% and totally understand and not take it personally if I chose to put my time into my business instead of spending time with them, not judge me for it and they did not interpret my lack of time with them as lack of love for them.
- B. Give me shit and provide all kinds of unsolicited advice and impose their thoughts on my life. “Why would you do this?” “What do you even DO?” “Well, you just bake cookies, that’s easy”. “Why aren’t you spending more time with me? Don’t you love me?”
- C. A mix of A and B. Which is probably more common. These are not simple situations.
- Limit your exposure to those in camp B. And if you are in a situation where B are super close family or friends, work on your relationship so you can better empathize with each other. I would NOT be here without Brian backing me up. And we were NOT in position in our relationship to do this earlier! Another deep topic we can chat more about later.
- Self-awareness is key! It keeps your feet planted, mind clear and self-accountable.
- Know your “why”. Why you’re doing this. For who? (It should be ultimately for YOU and It. Is. Not. Selfish.)
- Know what you’re giving up. For me, that meant time with my family and friends, a lot of time spent traveling/playing, and a LOT of sleep.
- Know what you’re getting yourself into (or be OK with the unknown). It’s not easy to describe what I do … and I’m working on that. A lot of people think I just “bake cookies” and having to explain and justify my job to them is tiring. I need to be OK with riding out this weird phase and being uncomfortable. My own husband who has seen this entire journey unfold never truly knew how much work everything was until he also became fully invested!
- Not everyone is going to be a good business owner or leader, that’s reality. A lot of people love the idea of “being their own boss” but the reality is that it’s really tough and not glamorous. The reason why 50% of small businesses fail within their first 5 years is because people are not fully aware of what they are getting themselves into. I’ve had a track record of other businesses that have been successful in their own right whether it be K-Pop bookmarks at 14, importing/reselling Asian beauty products at 18 or selling handmade jewelry until 2011. Even with this experience under my belt, I still approached this change very pragmatically.
- Self awareness is a HUGE topic and we’ll have to save more for later, but to summarize a few more key things– consider checking your ego, taking accountability for your actions (catch yourself when you’re in a “victim” mindset and learn to snap out of it), audit your time to find ways to ‘save time’ like getting a housekeeper, using Instacart or getting meal prep like Trifecta. These are affiliate links so if you end up signing up, we both benefit!
- Learn how to be disciplined
- Motivation is a feeling that is fleeting. What defines people who can keep making progress is not because they have motivation– it’s because they have enough discipline to get the job done especially when they least feel like it.
- Discipline is incredibly simple, but like so many things in life, simple does not imply easy. I practiced discipline all my life and it’s a skill that you need to keep practicing to keep up– and like other skills, once you get over the initial hump, it becomes easier to flex that muscle. And it starts with small things that have great impact, like getting my nutrition and fitness inline
- Discipline comes in handy so much when running your own business. Get your paperwork done on time and correctly (licenses, invoices, permits, agreements, etc… stuff that I avoid like the plague but need to get done). While not fun, these required tasks ensure you run on the up-up and keep your business legit. Kick the habit of procrastinating (it’s not easy), make a habit of monthly to-dos and stick to your schedule (i.e bookkeeping) OR you make enough to pay someone to do it (or take less home for yourself so you can pay other people!).
- Have a backup plan.
- While we all hope things work out for the best, I found it most comforting to know that IN CASE I got myself into deep shit with Borderlands Bakery, I have an out and am still able to make a living doing something else.
- Leaving your previous job(s) on good terms allows for an easier way back into your old world if need be.
- I actually *loved* my old jobs– it wasn’t a choice of a shitty situation vs. a better one– it was about working for someone else vs. giving my own dream a shot.
All of our lives are crazy complicated and context is everything! In the coming months, we’ll touch upon many more aspects of business and life together.
If you’d like to get more insight into the context of my life as a whole, etc. and “how things came to be”, you can hear some more as I chat with MikandCookies on her new podcast “Isn’t Life Sweet?” – episode 1! Please go check it out and make sure to Subscribe to Mik if you want to hear more stories like this in the future! Listen on Apple Podcast OR Listen on SoundCloud!
As we move into 2020 — I need to reassess my priorities. How do I want to impact people? And how do I do it in a way that aligns with the things I love to do/am interested in — baking, writing, leadership/people, small business management, self fulfillment and self reliance…
I’d love to move my business in a direction that would do just that. Supplies and decorating techniques are a part of it, but for those of you who want to also (eventually) be in control of your own life/work, how can I help you? Would really love for you to take some time, reflect, and drop a comment below with what you’d like to see from me.
Thank you for reading– I hope this gives you some practical insight into my decision making process and that it opens up a new line of communication with you.