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Milestone Reflections

April 20, 2017

Milestone Reflections: From Corporate Employee to Entrepreneur

by Jeanine Izzo

The idea of a steady paycheck, benefits and having a job with weekends off were pressed into me well before I was eligible for employment. I took to these values like a magnet to a refrigerator and eventually ended up in a business environment. The corporate structure fed my responsibility and loyalty, as well as my desire to learn and challenge myself. I enjoyed having peers and building teams…succeeding together. Plus, I was thankful to have an IT department to call when my technology needed some healing. For these reasons and more, I never thought I was one for entrepreneurship. Hence, the decision to become a business owner was an internal tug-o-war. The swaying factors were hearing elders wish they would have taken more risks and telling myself that the only failure was in not moving forward. Whereas that thought helped me get unstuck, it didn’t dissolve me from feelings of failure along the way.

My first years as an entrepreneur presented equal parts anxiety and excitement. I can’t think of a time where hindsight would have been more beneficial than during those times. The highs were as energizing as the lows were draining.

Now, I find myself and the business at a major milestone. Five years in business. Five Years! Although, I’ve gotten more comfortable with the fact that I will never have the shifting landscape all figured out, in reflecting, it seems like I have quite a bit to add to the conversation. Thus, I share with you some of my learning’s below.

  • Creative freedom made the uncertain tasks of getting a business rolling much more enjoyable.
  • Although I opened the business with a partner, the ideation phase was still challenging after being in corporate. For a number of months, the work was more bigger picture than transactional and after being in a corporate, communication/email/task heavy environment, it felt like I wasn’t getting anything done on a daily basis. At times, I longed for more tangible instruction and feedback that I accomplished something of value. To get through, I reminded myself that I/we were creating an investment for the future.
  • The break-up of the initial partnership was tough…I imagine, akin to a divorce in its own way. It cut deep on a number of levels and left me uncertain if I wanted to continue on my own (I certainly would not have started all on my own). To get through, I asked myself “Have you unturned all the stones?” This continues to be my compass.
  • Knowing I could help people excel through my experience, training and personality and learning how to message properly to get the chance are eons apart.
  • Realizing that the people I was drawn to coach were not always the decision makers and/or were not in a mindset to invest in themselves or their teams was a consideration I wish I would have adjusted to earlier.
  • In corporate, the selling of myself was very different than as a business owner where the product they were buying is essentially me. In corporate, the prior knowledge of the quality of my work usually spoke for itself. As an entrepreneur, I have to ‘go out and get the work’ which I don’t relish. To get through, I read sales books and took seminars and they offered distinctly different advice which was confusing. Ultimately, I had to make amends within myself to enable ‘selling’ type activities that were aligned with my value system.
  • Learning to connect with a greater number of people while still honoring the value I place on quality relationships has been tricky.
  • Learning how to value/price/talk about my gifts/strengths/benefits of working with me got easier as clients were doing well…and willing to tell others. Thank you!
  • As someone who has trained herself to enjoy being out of my comfort zone, I still need a safe home base. I was out of my comfort zone almost full time for months…that was too much.
  • Working from home (when I am not at a client site) and with a flexible schedule worked against me. I wanted to take advantage of the flexibility, but it didn’t come easy. To get through, I payed attention to my natural body rhythms and also when clients are more likely to want to schedule time with me. This has allowed me to find an agreeable balance of structure and flexibility.
  • In corporate, I presented project status/needs to the CEO and numerous Senior Staff month after month, year after year. As the owner of Viage Partners, I was standing in front rooms full of people, not to present a project status, but to inspire them into action. Usually, this took more sharing of myself. Oddly, even though I was comfortable in front of people and received good reviews, behind the scenes this was quite a challenge for the private, more introverted part of my personality. To get through, I practiced and practiced and practiced…and I took inspiration from Susan Caine (Author of Quiet and TED Talk Presenter).
  • Showing more of myself went against one of my values to be grounded/humble. To get through, I had to re-purpose my thinking. To do this, I told myself that the person listening to me could easily get up right after me and our roles would be reversed…they could teach me.
  • Knowing when and how to reach out for help can be imperfect. My personality benefits from pressing my own boundaries, yet there were times when I allowed myself to languish too long before reaching out for help.
  • There are different types of help. Those that tell you what to do and those that help you uncover what you need/want to do. Whereas each has their place, I found myself getting one when I wanted the other. To get through, I learned to distinguish between the two up front and seek appropriate resources.
  • Feelings of isolation surprised those close to me who know I can spend a lot of time alone and not feel lonely. It was difficult for me to get enough fulfilling two way dialogue. To get through, I have to make a point to get out and interact with others (aside from clients). Largely, I have to take ownership of being the one to initiate these conversations…or else, my introverted side will take over and I will become a hermit in a straight-jacket!
  • Incurring health challenges (twice) along the way slowed the business momentum and my spirit. To get through, I reached out to others and asked myself (more than ever) “Have you unturned every stone?” Finding elements to be grateful for along the way helped immensely.
  • Writing is something that I have always enjoyed privately, yet struggled to put out publicly. With (long-standing) aspirations to complete and publish a book, I knew I had to start somewhere. To get through, I allow myself to feel the angst and anguish of releasing a newsletter/article…and post it anyway.
  • On a related note, understanding the phrase, “Don’t let perfect get in the way of good” has been a much needed life lesson. The perfectionist in me would keep me playing small. Learning how to let go, even a little bit, has created more ease in my mind. When I (or my proof-reader) miss a typo or grammar error, it still bothers me some, yet not nearly as much as it used to.
  • As a person who likes to help, and who sees benefits even in less than enjoyable situations, it has been a challenge to learn how to let go of certain elements. I have done so in order to make room for others. The time between opportunities can be tough, but once the next one comes around I understand how important it was to let go of the previous.
  • What keeps me going…
    • Combining my experience, training and personality to work in my purpose…and getting paid for my services.
    • Partnering with my clients and seeing them through to have break-thru’s, promotions, less unproductive stress, greater outcomes, more ease, improved confidence, clarity and fulfillment. Helping to illuminate their awareness and use of their strengths and values to create more of what they want.
    • Honoring my personal vision and values.
    • Continuing to walk my talk as I stumble and soar through my own learning and growing process (I never ask my clients to do something that I haven’t or wouldn’t do myself). I know the struggle is real…and the triumphs are immense.
    • Feeling pride for not letting fear hold me back and helping others do the same.
    • Knowing that all the stones have not been unturned.

Although I don’t know where the viage (journey) of life is going to take me, I am forever changed and grateful for the people, perspectives and possibilities that entrepreneurship has brought my way!
For assistance with having more of what you want…Contact Viage Partners today.


© Viage Partners 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Viage Partners with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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