It didn't take me too long working full-time as a content manager at a social media company to realize that going into an office every day and working for someone else was not the life for me. Sure, like so many others I used to constantly hear some iteration of the phrase “follow your dreams” throughout school and my career, but there are so many fears of quitting your day job that creep up, which make the idea of moving from a stable-but-soul-crushing job to becoming my own boss all the more terrifying.
Throwing a kid into the mix adds an entirely new set of difficulties that — when I was toying with the idea of quitting my job — I wasn't totally sure I'd be able to handle. I wasn’t even pregnant at the time, but the anxiety I felt about the unknown world of entrepreneurship nearly kept me from pursuing it altogether. But now, a year and a half after building up the confidence to enter the world of self-employment, I can confirm that, while some of my fears did come true, they weren't roadblocks to my success. Yes, I do constantly find myself up way past my bedtime, still trying to catch up on multiple deadlines after a full day of dealing with a teething, feverish 6-month-old. And yes, I catch myself wondering: Is this is what I pictured when I'd daydream about starting my own business? The answer is no, but it was still totally worth it. Here are some of the fears I felt when I made this decision for myself, and exactly how I overcame (most of) them.
Do I need to form an LLC? What on earth are quarterly taxes? Is business insurance necessary?
When faced with what seems to be an insurmountable amount of setup, it’s easy to scrap the whole plan before you’ve even begun. However, there are plenty of resources on how to quit your day job, as well as tons of great books about starting your own business. Utilize the knowledge shared by those who’ve succeeded before you and chip away at your startup list. Before you know it, you’ll be in full swing. Best of all, you can use those same skills when planning for a baby — or vice versa, if you’re already a parent.
The short answer? It'll change in literally every way imaginable. It's terrifying to even imagine this much adjustment at once, and it's a harsh reality that when you run your own business, there’s no such thing as paid maternity leave. On top of that, there’s no assurance that your clients or customers will wait for you if you do decide to take time off, and I can tell you that there is no surefire way to prepare for adding a child to your self-employment plan — you just have to do it. And guess what? It will work out, one way or another.
After years of steady employment, saying goodbye to a reliable source of income is a terrifying prospect, to say the least. Car payments, mortgages, insurance, and utilities don’t care if you’ve had a good month or bad month. (And that’s not even getting into little pleasures like going out to eat or — gasp! — taking a vacation.)
Before jumping ship to pursue self-employment, take a long, hard look at your financial forecast. If you have shortcomings, work toward them while you still have a consistent source of revenue. Find out what corners you can cut. Do you qualify for any startup loans? Do you have an accountant friend who you could trade services with or referrals you can tap? Are there any free local groups of like-minded women you could join? You might be surprised at how much you can save with a little research. I know I was!
Imposter syndrome is real, and hoo boy, can it tear you down. Your harshest critic is always going to be yourself, and it’s hard to turn off that little voice in your head comparing you to everyone else. (Thanks a lot, Instagram.)
Mommy envy is the same thing. When I have a friend whose child starts crawling sooner than mine, I feel the same twinge of jealousy as when a colleague gets a byline in an outlet I haven’t managed to crack yet. It’s important to recognize your value and remind yourself that yes, you can!
It’s true that working from home means that pants aren't 100% required. It's great. Although I do weep for the UPS man when he sees me in all my glory.
What worked for me was getting some help. Hire a babysitter once a week or find a nanny share. Work from a coffee shop. Find a local co-working space. Some weeks are going to be harder than others, but if you incorporate a stroll to the coffee shop or jaunt to the library into your routine from the start, it’ll be easier to cut yourself some slack when you get cabin fever.
Fast Company describes working from home with kids as the “worst of both worlds,” and while I can confirm that's true, I think the best trick is to follow Ron Swanson’s advice (see above). I think of it this way: After having a child, my life is no longer split neatly into two categories, previously known as a work/life balance. Now, it’s all one big jumble. Once I started thinking about my work as part of my life, which now includes an infant, it became easier to plan my day accordingly.
This one is tough. It’s no secret that running your own business means you’re essentially actively working 24/7, and that kind of schedule can take a toll on even the most supportive partner. For instance, my partner works early mornings and gets home in the early afternoon. Despite my best efforts, there are inevitably days where I hear the front door open and practically throw my son into his arms so I can meet a deadline. I try not to make a habit of it, but understanding that spending time with loved ones may mean you have to say no to certain projects. Otherwise, what’s the point?