Putting this process into practice is a life-long journey. And each time I do something new or venture into new territory, I know that there will be big things to process. I guess it would have seemed like starting my own business was enough “newness” for a while, but it would only be the beginning of loads of big change ahead of me.
I’ve often wished I had the crystal ball to see into the future. There’s something quite alluring about what if we could know how things will work out. And yet, there’s something protective in the fact that I (nor you) can see into the exact future. It’s common to hear that if we could, we would likely be so overwhelmed at the reality we see, however awesome it may be. It’s likely some version of these thoughts arise… how does this even happen? what do I have to do to make this work? Our minds so love to figure things out, that we probably cannot resist questioning the specifics of it all.
I’ve had lots of people- budding entrepreneurs and curious friends- want to know HOW I started my business. I mean it when I say the three years I worked in a corporate setting were my most formative toward the start of MFD Style. The mindset work that I’ve spoken of truly was the bulk of what I focused on, but of course, there were small business “things” I needed to tackle. And should I remind you that I did NOT go to business school, in spite of working for one for nearly 12 years.
Probably one of the first things I did (thanks to my cousin who happens to be an Intellectual Property attorney) was trademark MFD Style. Aside from buying the domain, I knew that my brand- however big or small- should be mine. I would absolutely encourage any small business owner to do the same. It’s not a hard process, but I will say it was invaluable to have someone I trusted interpret the legalese!
Managing finances is a common question when starting a business. I don’t think there is a secret sauce to this, other than brutal honesty. I’m pretty diligent with my bills, savings, and retirement. I do think it helped that I worked a traditional job for 15 years to set me up with good habits around spending less than I make and saving aggressively when I was at my highest pay grade. But I’m not someone who budgets, or at least with a fine tooth comb. I always have a rough idea of what I spend and what I have, so there’s balance there. I don’t carry credit card debt, and I’ve long paid off student loans. Now remember, I had used the $40k from my first house sale to help me in 2018 when I was contemplating my next move. So, my liquid savings had been pretty depleted. By the time I left my corporate job in 2021, I had saved about $15k.
Was that “enough” to start my own business? Who knows, but it’s what I had.
I resisted getting a financial adviser for a good while. I didn’t want to work with someone who would obsess over numbers and push me to make all kinds of decisions out of fear. But I knew that I needed advice about getting the business off the ground and help me anticipate what the first year of self-employment could bring. I ended up hiring a financial adviser for 13 months, which was clearly an investment, but it felt right. I always trusted my body with decisions like this: I felt at ease when working with her. And while I deeply believe you hire experts in the areas where you are not (hello- my business banks on this!), you also have to trust your own intuition on decision-making. Let me give you an example.
My adviser made a very strong recommendation to invest in long-term disability insurance. Given that I would be self-employed, my livelihood would be dependent on my ability to work. Should something physically disable me, the insurance policy would guarantee a certain income to support me for the duration of my life. At the time I applied, I was a W-2 employee, which meant I qualified for a policy based on the salary I was making at the time. Should I elect not to take that policy, I would have to wait 2 years of self-employment income to apply again, and likely would qualify for a policy with a lower return rate given the start-up income I would have. It felt like a “this is the best you’ll ever get” kind of offer.
All logic says that this is exactly what I should do. Except, my body did not feel right about the choice. There was a perpetual knot in my belly any time we would discuss this topic. I remember the day when we had a call to discuss the policy that I qualified for, and ultimately then I had to decide how I would move forward.
Spoiler alert: I did not purchase the policy.
It was not a quick, casual decision- I assure you. But one of the largest lessons I was confronted with was to trust my own intuition on how I would make the decisions for myself and my business. I don’t have any rational logic to offer you on this, as it was 100% a bodily felt sense. There would be no crystal ball here.
I’m not suggesting you should buck recommended practices or the expertise of your advisers. I’m saying this was the beginning of MANY moments where I had to learn the language of my intuition. My body communicated information, beyond what my mind offered, and receiving the quick, often quiet, whispers became essential to any progress I made.