After nearly 15 years of working in corporate marketing and communications, I ditched the nine to five grind to turn what I loved into a booming business. At the time, I think most people thought I was nuts for giving up a high paying job and a career I worked so hard to establish. But what I don't think they fully understood was, I'd rather take the risk to do something I loved than spending one more day doing something I hated.
“If you organize your life around your passion, you can turn your passion into your story and then turn your story into something bigger, something that matters.” - Blake Mycoskie
Since I left my high paying corporate job, I often get asked why I decided to do it? And when I share my story, I quickly get asked how I did it? So here we go, this is the story of how I took what I loved and turned it into a booming business….and how you can too!
When I graduated with a Bachelors of Commerce degree I had it all. I was working in bankers tower in downtown Calgary. I had a good paying job, nice place to live, what more could I want right?
Well, it didn’t take long before I realized I wasn’t feeling overly fulfilled! I remember looking out a window on the 21st floor at this picturesque scene of snow-capped mountains but the irony was that I was stuck sitting in a monochrome office. It reminds me now of Mad Men and I kind of laugh about it. All of us and our perfectly steamed black and grey suits shuffling our way up and down the elevator every day. Nobody really talking to each other because we're all too busy or important.
I kept wondering is this what life is all about? Are we supposed to work, come home, go to sleep, wake up, repeat. Spending the majority of our days chained to a desk, working in a job we don't really like, with people we don't really care about, longing for our measly 15 days of vacation, just so we can earn a pay cheque. Does this sound crazy? It does to me. And I couldn’t quite imagine living the next 30 years this way.
My heart was yearning for creativity, vibrancy and a purpose, but my brain would counter saying you can't do that, how are you going to make a living doing that, so I quickly fit back into the standard mold. Six years later I found myself working in the basement of a library this time with no windows, we didn't have that picturesque backdrop of snow-capped mountains, we were literally living the majority of our days in a cinder block hole. At this point, I was literally going through the motions, but it was all starting to catch up with me.
“We're scared of drowning, flying and shooters, but we're all slowly dying in front of fucking computers.” - Michael David Rosenberg
My anxiety was through the roof, and I started losing a sense of purpose, excitement, and happiness. I was slowly dying inside. Knowing I was in desperate need of change, I enrolled in a creative master's program. I was looking for something to ignite a fire in my soul that had been dimly burning for years. As part of my master’s research and thesis, I embarked on an adventure where I would spend three months living in Northern Luzon, Philippines. My project entailed conducting a photo documentary in a remote village. With no formal photography training or background in international research, what I was setting up to do was highly risky, but I figured there was no better time or place to try.
I remember it like it was yesterday. Landing on this half grass, half paved runaway narrowly set between the ocean and the rainforest. Stepping out of the plane for the first time my feet connecting with the lush green grass, the moisture from the sea and rainforest causes them to sink gently into the earth and for the first time in a really long time I felt grounded. Being there helped me appreciate and reconnect with the beauties of the natural world. Like the lush green rainforest, crystal blue river streams and the slow way of living. The real human connection I was forced to feel, and didn't even realize I was missing in my life.
I actually miss my fresh water showers, my freshly caught fish and the slower way of life. Now don't get me wrong, life near the Blos River isn't perfect by any means. They have very real struggles with poverty, marginalization, and segregation but it definitely forced me to question what my purpose in life is and reflect on the life I wanted to live when I got back home. This experience was the turning point for WHY I decided to ditch the 9 to 5 grind. For me, it enabled me to reconnect with what I believe is important in life. I knew I wanted to fill my days with things that light me, things I am passionate about. I wanted to have more time for friends and family. I wanted to live everyday with purpose. Being in the Philippines also helped me overcome the fear of failure, and the desperate need for perfection!
While it took me completing my master's degree and traveling half way around the world to make a change, I am not suggesting that is what you have to do! That is just what I needed to do!
"Thinking will not overcome fear but action will." - W. Clement Stone
With this new found purpose and passion, I readjusted to life back home and set a goal to make the transition into full-time entrepreneurship. I took my love of wine and photography and started taking small steps towards launching my businesses. All of which, I did before actually handing in my two weeks notice.
And I totally get it, fear and doubt are two very real things that stop people from pursuing their dreams. It crippled me for years. I was terrified about losing a steady income, failure, and what people thought about me. Until I realized that I could start with as little or as big of steps I wanted to take towards making my dreams come true. I could start building my business before ever making the leap. So, what if I told you, you can achieve all that too?
That is exactly what I did, and when it was time to actually give my notice it was easy! Here is the process I followed:
1. Select a niche you are passionate about (i.e., wine and photography)
2. Figure out how to add value to your ideal customers
3. Make it official (this might just mean starting to talk about it with family and friends).
4. Start growing your following
5. Start marketing your business
For my detailed work book on how I started and launched the two businesses below, download it now.
By the time I was ready to launch my businesses, people were happily waiting for me to open my doors! The crazy thing is, I don’t really think I am that special. I believe this path is attainable for anyone wanting to pursue a more fulfilled and passionate life by doing what they love. The problem tends to be taking the first step towards building the business of your dreams. Even with my background in marketing and communications I know how overwhelmed I felt trying to launch and grow my businesses, while staying creative and performing day-to-day operations. The struggle is definitely real!
This is what inspired me to start the Creatively Owned blog. I am passionate about helping other creative and solo entrepreneurs build kick-ass businesses. Why? Because I know this entrepreneurial journey can be damn hard. But I also know how amazing it feels to succeed while doing what you love. If I can help one person feel more empowered and less overwhelmed in their entrepreneurial journey, I will be one happy camper!
So, if you are ready to kickstart your business, I’ve created a 5-page guide that will help you unleash your creative gifts and turn them into a profitable business. I invite you to take the first step towards building the business of your dreams by downloading my PASSION TO PROFIT ACTION PLAN! Before you know it, you’ll be ready to launch your business and ditch your 9 to 5.
What do you have to lose? Let's do this! Click the image below to take the first step towards building the business of your dreams.