It was two years ago today that I made one of the most frightening decisions of my life – I quit my comfy full-time corporate job and decided to jump into the world of work at home moms and start my own business. Now why in the hell would I do that you ask? Truth be told I had a great job. A nice office, supportive co-workers, benefits, and a decent paycheck. Problem was I also had the work schedule that comes along with the job – and a home to manage, relationships with family and friends to nurture, and three small children under 7 to raise.
With all these responsibilities, comes the oh so familiar debacle of trying to balance business with family life. I can’t tell you how many times I have walked into a meeting or presentation and received a call from the kid’s daycare that they were sick and had to be picked up immediately (pretty much every parent reading this just nodded their head in agreement).
The company that I was working for was in the middle of transitioning in a new CEO and was in the process of undergoing several organizational changes. I have never been one to oppose change in the workplace since change often promotes growth but I found myself working more and more and understanding less and less about my role and the direction of the business.
One particular morning, I remember my boss walking into my office with a stern look on his face and he began to reprimand me for leaving work a half hour early the previous day. I remember sitting there with a blank stare on my face not really sure at first how to respond. I was in shock because I always put in my 40 hours plus and generally went above and beyond to help when necessary – although honestly it was probably to my own detriment.
Instantly, I began replaying a scene from the evening before in my head. I remembered my kids making repeated pleas to play with them or to watch a movie with them. And my response was always “not now, I have to get this work done”. I realized I had made my job my priority. I was so consumed with making a better life for them that I chose work over their needs.
That evening before, I happened to be working on a sales report that had been unloaded on me at about 2pm and absolutely had to be ready for a meeting the following morning at 8am. Needless to say I did not finish the particular report until about 12:30am and after an evening full of a toddler with night terrors, I was admittedly not in the best of moods. It was at that moment, that something inside me shifted and I realized that there has to be a better way. I no longer felt that I was on the correct path and something had to change immediately.
As soon as he left my office, I phoned my husband and informed him I was submitting my resignation with his support. I was completely terrified yet felt invigorated at the same time. I worried about how we would make ends meet with two self-employed parents in the house. Well really I worried about everything. Reinventing myself in my mid 30’s seemed like a daunting task (although now I know otherwise 😉 ).
I was preparing to make one of the biggest employment mistakes possible – quitting my job without having a source to replace my income! And I had no savings! However the cost of childcare expenses for three small children was also putting a serious dent in our household income. I had always had an interest in unconventional employment, probably because my parents held non-traditional jobs in addition to their 9-5 jobs.
By day my father was a Public Building Maintenance Coordinator for Baltimore City. And at night he was a musician who played lead guitar and sang vocals for several Baltimore area bands from the 1960’s to the 1990’s. Learning from his father (my grandfather) at a young age, playing music was my Dad’s passion. Some guys like cars, my Dad like guitars! The funny thing is that during his 32 years of employment with Baltimore City he was offered a promotion with Baltimore City on a few occasions but always declined since it would involve evening meetings and would cut into his music time. The money from the side gig was good but I think he just truthfully loved to play. Even when he “quit playing” he never actually quit, he just stopped playing paid gigs. In his own understated way he taught me to always follow my passions. It’s not work if you do what you love!
When I was much younger, my mother worked as the Food & Beverage Director at the Peabody Institute Hotel and moonlighted as a bartender. She also dipped into the world of retail opening her own women’s clothing store, LaMar’s with her best friend, Lisa. Unfortunately this was during the economic downturn of the Canton area in Baltimore and circumstances forced the store to close a few years later. This is certainly not due to a lack of hard work and effort on their part. From my mom, I have learned my work ethic and business operations skills. My parents gave me a good foundation for success but naturally I was still petrified about the decision I had made.
The morning that I submitted my resignation, I was so nervous that I was shaking. Up until that point I had really never quit a job before. After it was over I felt elated and was so excited to start my new journey and my boss could not have been more supportive or understanding.
I opened my first business, Three Peas Services on June 29th, 2013 and have never looked back. What started as a small consignment business selling items on Ebay has now grown to an online community that not only provides useful, practical, and inspiring information to busy entrepreneurs and their families in 38 countries all over the world with plans to offer a family marketplace and online course catalog in the future. In addition to a thriving small business consulting practice.
I have loved every minute of it although some days have been harder than others. I don’t find myself having to choose between work and family as much as I did. Overall I am much less stressed and happier. There are days (sometimes even weeks) when I question my decision. Then I will receive an email from a happy client or a positive comment on a blog post and I realize that this is exactly what I want to be doing. We have had to make sacrifices but I have had so many memories with my family over the past few years that I know I would not have had if I was still working a traditional job. And I am so grateful for that.
Three years later, I feel that I have accomplished more than I ever thought possible. I have amassed a small but loyal social media base on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest. We upgraded our website in March and have received lots of great feedback. We are currently writing a book and several outlines for new course content. And we are diligently working on new Products & Services so that we can help even more customers grow their business. By no means am I where I want to be, but I am getting there and making progress each day.
So why am I writing this? I want to share my experiences with everyone in the hopes of inspiring others to create a better life for themselves. If I can inspire just one person to have the courage to make a change in their life, then I have been successful.
Ten years ago I remember someone asking me what I was most afraid of in life and my reply was “not being successful”. If asked the same question today, my response would be “not recognizing success”. We are all successful in different ways on a daily basis and many times don’t tend to recognize those successes because we are not exactly where we want to be at that moment. I, for one, have learned to recognize my accomplishments and am proud of myself for achieving them. For the first time in my life I truly feel that the sky is the limit!
What’s your story? Please feel free to share in the comments!