2nd Birthday Superlatives: The Hardest Step

Interestingly enough, it wasn’t the first step that was the hardest to take. It was the one midway into the journey.

I decided to start my own consulting business in November of 2008 after being laid off from my 12-year career at Luck Stone Corporation – the result of a construction materials supplier meeting a recession. The first months were engaging and fun – designing an identity and website; networking with literally hundreds of amazing and interes ting people; dabbling in the beginnings of actual work, both paid and pro bono.

It wasn’t until mid-summer that reality really came a’calling.

By early July, both my generous severance from Luck Stone and some early client work had dwindled to a meager trickle. I was doing more free work than paid work.

One Thursday afternoon, Nikole called to tell me that our personal bank account was nearing empty. At least it matches the business account, I thought, even as a pit began to form in my stomach.

So, this is what “cash flow” looks like on a bad day.

For more than eight months, I had stayed busy doing the soft side of entrepreneurship – building relationships, testing the waters, casually looking for interesting opportunities.

I’d forgotten that running your own business was – at its heart – an exercise in selling, doing, delivering. Forgotten, perhaps. It is more likely that I just didn’t realize this at all until this moment.

We talked through the weekend, Nikole and I. First, we sorted through the short-term issue – paying our mortgage for the month, and buying groceries. Then came the hard part.

Were we cut out to be entrepreneurs? Did we want to ride the ebb-and-flow of a start-up consulting business in the midst of the worst recession in our lifetimes? Did we have confidence in my vision, my abilities and the fledgling Floricane brand I had worked to build?

The conversation was not easy – for either of us. In the end, we asked a good friend (and my old mentor) over to help us walk through our decision. He pushed me especially hard to acknowledge how much of my ego was invested in this new venture, and that if I was serious about running my own business I needed to start acting serious.

Ratcheting up my commitment was harder than talking about it. And sticking to that commitment remains a daily exercise.

I walked into the office the next Monday with my sleeves rolled up, and two weeks later started working with my second strategic planning client – the Valentine Richmond History Center.

My sleeves have stayed rolled ever since.