• Puja Malhotra

Making the Move from Corporate to Working for Yourself

I come from a corporate background. I spent 8 years working in a variety of industries. From insurance to education and even a bit of PR, so I know how it feels to stay up at night contemplating how you're going to leave, when you're going to leave or why you can't just make this work.


Before I dive in let me give you some background.


Most brown Indian parents will tell you to be doctors, lawyers or engineers, mine are different. They told me to chase my dreams, to study what I was interested in and to be my own person. I went to school at Ryerson University for Fashion Communications - fell in love with graphic design and found myself a corporate job doing what I learned. Which made my parents and everyone around me very happy. Except there was one tiny problem.


I was miserable.


Ok maybe I'm being dramatic initially I thought a corporate job is what I wanted, a steady income, and benefits, how could I say no. However the more I worked for someone else the more I realized it wasn't for me. I was limited - my skills were under-appreciated in some places and others just didn't need me the way I wanted to be needed. I had a side hustle while working but even then I was spread way too thin and not giving 100% to either.


So I took a leap of faith...I was newly married, just signed up to purchase my home and decided that it was now or never. I'm going to start working for myself full-time.


My super supportive parents were suddenly concerned as to why I would leave the luxury of a salary, my sisters told me to stop standing in my own way and just do it and my husband asked for a plan. I had extended family who thought I was being crazy and friends who came across as haters. I knew it was all on me to make this happen - and make it happen right.



When making my move from corporate to working for myself here are a few things that helped me transition for success.


Money Talks

First things first, figure out your funds. How much money do you have saved? Is it enough to cover you for at least 3-6 months? For me, it was important to review all my investments and savings. I knew I had something to fall back on (without the help of anyone else).


Keep a Routine


Part of the freedom, of working for yourself, is being able to adjust your routine to fit your needs. It doesn't have to be 9-5 but having some structure is important. For me my morning routine is key but I also love for it to be fluid. For example, I start every morning with yoga and mediation. Sometimes this means I rise a 5 am and other days I rise a 7 am - but I never break my routine regardless. This method has really allowed me to bring structure without sacrificing the freedoms that come from working for yourself.


Set Boundaries


In relationships (both work and personal) as well as your schedule - set boundaries. This is so important because you are setting a precedent for how you plan on working for the rest of your life, so be mindful of it.



Create a Work Space


Your workspace defines so much of who you are and what you're going to get done, so build it out from day one. Even if you don't have the budget to decorate, pull things from around the home, and create a space that is meant for just work. This space should bring you joy and allow you to be productive. For me, this meant never working in my bedroom, or near the kitchen/laundry.


Give Yourself a Deadline/Set Goals


This one is a tough one to hear - but give yourself a deadline. I remember telling my husband to give me a year to earn as much as I did in my corporate job and if I don't I'll start applying for jobs. I knew I was never going back to corporate, but this lit a fire under my ass (excuse my language but I needed that emotion). It also gave him the plan he was searching for. I set a bunch of goals when I started out including financial, personal and business goals. It doesn't matter if this is a sheet of paper or a vision board but put something together that you can review daily and ensure you do at least ONE task that will help you get there.


I ended up reaching that goal and even making a bit more!


Work When You're in the Zone


Working for yourself especially in the beginning can be a lot. It's hard to turn off because you want to hustle so hard that you don't have to go back. There are going to be days where you are in the zone from 9 am to 11 pm and then days where you'll need to take a break - take it. I don't care what anyone tells you. If you're not feeling 100% your business won't feel 100%. So take advantage of your freedom and put in the hard work when you know you can produce amazing content.


It's About Who You Know


Network everywhere and anywhere. Just get your name out there. The days of competition are gone, collaborate and build something with the community around you. I know so many women including myself who were shocked after leaving the corporate world to learn that there are spaces where we can lift each other up. Join masterminds, build your network and bring in that good energy - trust me you'll need it.


Say No


This is hard - maybe even the toughest thing on this list, but it's ok to say no when you're starting out. There is a perception that we need to mould into whatever our clients want because that is who is paying us - but instead of focusing so much energy there, why not push it towards your dream clients. Don't get my wrong I took on some odd jobs in the beginning too but I learned quickly to focus on the clients who value me and my work - because they are the ones who will bring me references and more.


Learn to Pivot


If it's not working or not going the way you planned - pivot. I adjusted, listened and then adjusted some more until I started reaching my dream clients. It's ok to do this - in fact, it is what allows you to build that dream business.


Ignore the Naysayers


Haters going to hate. No statement has ever been more true and funny enough when you're starting out it may surprise you who doesn't really understand or believe in you. For me it turned out some of my closes girlfriends and a few extended family members that just didn't get it - nor did they try to get it. So I stopped talking to them about it. It's really that simple. See there is no point in spending time explaining yourself to these people. And yes, you may love them and they love you, but maybe when it comes to your business they aren't 100% on board. That's ok - talk to them about everything else going on in your life, and allow yourself to skip dinner or girls nights - if you need to. I know I did and my relationships were solid. So when I got back into the groove and felt I had nothing to prove ...everyone was still there and still loving me. Slowly but surely they all came on board too.


_______________


Sometimes when I look back I can't believe or understand where my confidence came from - but my intuition was strong and I knew I had to do something. Boy, I'm so happy I did.

Remember the perfect time is never going to come knocking on your door, in some cases you just have to jump to see where you're land. I know that sounds a little crazy but most successful entrepreneurs are a little crazy - that's what makes us different! Listen to your intuition, put together a plan and just get ready to grind (blood, sweat and tears). I promise nothing can hold you back.


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