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Trying to come up with new ideas is not easy

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Before the pandemic, I found myself on a hamster wheel of regret. Every morning after dropping my son off at daycare, I maneuvered through 40 minutes of morning traffic to get downtown for work, where I was met with other “Dear God, this can’t be my life” commuters. We were all fighting to find a decent parking spot that wouldn’t leave our car with dents on the driver’s side when we eventually returned to it in the evening. It went something like this:

Park car. Check.

Make sure nothing is out on the seat. Check.

Workbag. Check.

Lunch bag. Check.

Lock doors. Check.

From there, me and 50 other people would try to decide if we wanted to wait for the parking garage elevator or take the steps that always had a unique smell of burned oil, various perfumes, and a faint hint of urine. I would take the steps. Once outside, I was met on the street by hundreds of other people rushing to get to their office jobs in five minutes. Once I got to my desk, the clock would turn to 8:30 a.m., and I would get down to business.

In my tiny work cubical, through the many emails, meetings, and projects I was responsible for, there was this unrelenting feeling that I missed the turn to my dreams and somehow spilled out into the world of “It’s good enough.” Yeah, the work was good, and I helped people, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was wasting my purpose. “Be grateful,” I often told myself. “There are people who would love to be in your shoes.” I mean, what did I have to complain about, right?

Fast forward to March of last year. If I could sum up 2020 in one word, I would say “humbling.” Our daily routines were flipped upside down with the swiftness of a single snap. And yet, between trying to order paper towels and groceries online (’cause some of y’all were showing out in stores), setting up a learning station for my son, managing to share a home office with my husband, and fellowshipping with my church family online, I remained optimistic and energized about the future. I decided it was time to get my entrepreneurial dreams in check, and while I’m not where I want to be just yet, I have made substantial strides towards living the life I want. These days, I work from home full time, writing, creating, and getting paid well.

If you’re on the fence about whether or not the entrepreneurial life is for you, take a look at these 10 signs to see if it’s time to take the leap. Now, keep in mind, this does not mean you run out tomorrow and quit your job, but it may be time for you to design a game plan of how you want to start or grow your business so you can focus on that full time. So, let’s get started!

1. Your 9-5 Setting Feels Like Death

Each day, when I entered my cubicle, it felt like an invisible door shut after me. I felt stuck, annoyed, and tired like there was no use in fighting anymore. When you’re miserable in your job, everyone knows it and can feel the energy shift. Stress, fear, or lack of enthusiasm can drain your spirit, affect your performance, and create a lose-lose situation for everyone involved.

2. The Company’s Mission and Your Beliefs Don’t Add Up

Maybe the company isn’t into engaging the community, and you believe the only way a business can be successful and trusted is by forming authentic community relationships. Or maybe the company doesn’t value the employees’ well-being. When your core values don’t align with your job’s values, disaster is sure to follow.

3. Your Dream Is Bigger Than Anything You’re Doing Right Now

People who desire to work for themselves will jot down notes on just about anything. I literally would be in meetings and write company notes on the top sheet and my business ideas on the second sheet. I had to learn that dreaming is excellent, but it needs execution for it to be spectacular. If you can’t imagine yourself doing anything other than the business you want to create and operate, it may be time to move in that direction.

4. Your Skills Aren’t Being Utilized

If you feel stuck in a position that doesn’t allow you to utilize what you have to offer or add to you, it’s time to consider other options. I knew it was time to go because I knew I had more to offer. Please don’t give in to second guesses; it’s time to move ahead.

5. You Have an Idea That Delivers Solutions

Your business idea has the potential to change lives. You don’t want to start your business for the sole purpose of making money. You have a passion for the product or service, and you finally feel like this endeavor gives you meaning.

6. You Can’t Get Enough of Self-Growth

You are eager to soak up any knowledge that you can relate to your business idea. Whenever you get the chance, you are deep into a podcast, business book, webinar, or networking event surrounding your area of interest.

7. Entrepreneurs Tell You to Be an Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs recognize other entrepreneurs. Your network of successful business people give you genuine advice and encouragement to leap and are not simply gassing you up. They see something in you. Not everyone gets that.

8. You’re Not Afraid to Fail

This might sting a bit. You read that right. Your business idea could flop, and you’ll have to start again. Ask yourself if you are willing to try again if you fail. Are you ready to risk it all? If you’re honest with yourself, maybe this is not the time to leap fully; maybe the first step is to create a phase-out plan.

9. You’ve Started Making Your Exit Strategy

If your mind and spirit are giving you signs that you should work for yourself, don’t ignore them. It’s time to create a timeline. Keep in mind, this timeline could be six months or six years. The length of time it takes doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you have permitted yourself to plan your future the way you want.

10. You Have Enough Money Saved to Support Yourself

Your business would be successful out of the gate in a dream scenario. However, anything can happen, so you need to make sure you and your family have enough to live off of until your business takes off. If you’re married, this is a great time to chat with your spouse to make sure they’re on board with your endeavor.

I hope this list serves as a catalyst to inspire you to go after your dreams. Yes, some work is needed on your part, and no, you may not be able to quit your job next week. But if you take away nothing else, know that your dreams have life, and you deserve to see them come to light. May your feet remain firmly planted, your eyes stay laser-beam focused, and may fear stay in the corner where it belongs.

Michelle Farley: A word nerd and storyteller from the midwest, Michelle has a passion for working with brands that exhibit courage and creativity in finding new ways to advocate and support causes/issues that affect Black women. Think of her as a favorite quirky Auntie whose infectious laugh, calm presence, and warm hugs make even the most skeptical stranger feel like they’ve known her for a lifetime.  Michelle has worked on more than a dozen film and television sets, ranging from live studio to narrative production and documentaries, created a children’s books series and founded a boutique copywriting agency to help hundreds of entrepreneurs and brands share their unique stories for optimal impact and influence.

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