Starting a new business is exciting! It’s a time that’s full of hope, potential and vision. We “say goodbye” to the corporate world and embark on a new adventure.
As we shed this world, we often don’t realize that we are also shedding not only our status, but also our very identity.
As an employee, a part of your identity was the company you worked for. We can argue as to whether or not this is “proper”, but – right or wrong – both how you view yourself, and how the world views you, is tied in to your “job”.
Don’t believe me?
Imagine being at a party and meeting 3 people, an employee of Verizon, an employee of Virgin Airlines, and a McDonald’s employee. Just reading this I’m sure you felt a visceral reaction!
Now imagine it’s the middle manager for Verizon, a flight attendant of Virgin Airlines, and the CEO of McDonald’s. Did things shift again?
Like it or not, as you speak with each person your conversation will be impacted by knowing their employer’s name, and their job title.
Why is this important for a solopreneur?
Not only do we judge others for their corporate affiliations, we also define ourselves by our our jobs and the status that it confers. It’s easy to hide behind a “corporate image”. To introduce ourselves at a party as “Hi, I’m Marianne with XXXX company”.
As a Solopreneur, when you are at a party questions like “What do you do?” and “Who do you work for?” can leave you feeling naked and exposed. There is no corporate umbrella to take shelter under. The person you are speaking with can’t make the usual “assumptions”, and, as a result, the conversation shifts into unfamiliar territory for you both. The reason for this is simple – as an employee, you are judged by the company you work for, and the title you hold there.
When you become a solopreneur, your reputation and identity are based solely on your perceived “skills” and the level of confidence you exude.
The person you are speaking with, even after asking these common “What do you do?” and “Who do you work for?” questions, feels no closer to an answer they can grasp than they did before they asked the question.
They can’t define you in the simple way that they can define others at the party.
Most solopreneurs don’t know how to handle this! (especially if they have not yet become confident in their business)
Feeling fragile and abandoned is a common result.
How you respond to these feelings will define your level of success.
Don’t push these negative feelings away.
Accept them as a normal part of the process.
The move from employee to solopreneur can be compared to the old cliche of a caterpillar in a cocoon. The exciting truth, however, is that as you release the old “you”, you will discover that you have the ultimate power – YOU get to define yourself.
You can choose how you see yourself!
The moment you choose (and commit to your decision) will impact how others see you.
So ask yourself… “Do I want to be seen as a powerful business owner, or as a “wanna be” who is “trying” to get their business off the ground?”
Yes, it may take some time to commit to this new vision of yourself. If you have old, outdated, limiting beliefs you need to eliminate them.
Please don’t take this as a “reason” to procrastinate. Don’t let it become an excuse that keeps you from moving forward.
Confidence and clarity are built AS you do something.
Be prepared to “try” and “fail” several times before you get it right. Create and share your new identity as often as you can. Find the lesson in the missteps. Redefine again and again until you find what feels “right” to you. Celebrate your little victories along the way.
Create a clear vision of “who” you – and your business – are.
Then decide to “live” it.