365 Days Around a Non-Corporate World:
9 Lessons Learned
It has been 365 days since I resigned from a Fortune 200 company. After being protected and supported for 20 years by global industry leaders, while gaining multinational exposure, global and regional experience, I have suddenly decided to start my solo adventure and became a freelancer. My company was surprised to say the least but respected my decision, and my new life chapter has begun.
9 lessons learned in a year of being a freelance coach.
1. Your corporate experience matters
I love my corporate experience. Not everyone who quits Fortune 200 after 20 years carries negative feelings about their past. There are many stories about toxic bosses, a tough corporate environment, a gap between corporate and personal values, and liberations through resignations. That was not my case. I am proud to have had P&G and JLL as my employers. I have worked in a diverse, inclusive multi-cultural, and multi-geographical environment. I have lead multinational teams and run challenging transformational projects. I have met great people, attended hundreds of trainings, expanded my comfort zone significantly. Reflecting on the difficult situations I have had in my career—who didn’t? I am pleased to acknowledge that i learned about myself on the way. Value every single day and every single aspect of your experience.
2. Networking works
I came to realize that networking is fun. For corporate women leaders, networking is both a huge opportunity and a huge challenge. Often we find ourselves far behind men in this area, and I was not an exception in my corporate career. Surprisingly, during my first 365 days of being a freelancer, networking became the most natural way of staying connected, learning new things, finding partners and ideas for future projects. Investing your effort in networking actually makes your life more productive.
3. You are not an expert
When I’ve changed my career 365 days ago, I figured out pretty quickly that I am not an expert in the field of entrepreneurship. Everything from registering myself with the tax authorities to choosing the events to attend, from creating my business card to finding clients was new to me. Be humble, be ready to stretch your comfort zone over and over again. It helps immensely to constantly move, stay excited about new things to come, and be open-minded. It amplifies your curiosity, it gives you adrenaline and joy. Accept that you are not an expert, it will make it easier to learn.
4. You are an expert
I came to the world of freelance with an incredible experience. I’ve been through many crises and life-changing events, good and bad. I’ve run operational and organizational transformations at work, I’ve re-invented my personal life, influenced the lives of people across generations and regions. I have learned from the wisdom and experience of other people, from local, regional and global best practices. That matters. Don’t discount your worth. People are willing to learn from your experience. It is important to embrace your value as an expert and share your knowledge.
5. Meet uncertainty
In a corporate world ambiguity is a norm. With all processes and procedures underlying sales and revenue generation, with all support of legal, compliance, HR and Health &Safety departments there was a lot of uncertainty in my day-to-day job. But little did I know about uncertainty 365 days ago! How do I operate in the new business model? What is the business model? Will I get this assignment? Which topic is the most relevant to this audience? Which examples would fit this company’s culture? I held my management meetings (aka talking to myself) during sleepless nights until I accepted that uncertainty is now a bigger part of my life. The way to success is to accept uncertainty—certainly 🙂
6. Be kind to yourself
I worked even harder during the last 365 days than during my most challenging years in the corporate world. After 4-5 months of this business marathon, I have noticed I was getting sick often. It made me stop and recalibrate my efforts as well as plan quality “me time”. I really needed to pause and start breathing again, smile, and be happy and grateful for every small and big achievement. Don’t measure your worth with your revenue—definitely not in your first year of being a freelancer. Plan self-care time, celebrate success, big or small. Let yourself enjoy your new adventure—your income will follow.
7. Give yourself a permission to make mistakes
I know that I had made a fair share of mine. If you do something new, you will err, it’s inevitable. You will oversell or undersell, you will choose the wrong audience or a wrong topic, you will miss the conference that matters for your business and will attend the one that does not, you will post something irrelevant, do something too early, or too late. Creating a safe environment for making mistakes allows you to learn from these mistakes rather than dwell on negative memories.
8. Be grateful
There are so many people around me who support, encourage me, share feedback and insights. People who believe in me: my clients, partners, friends and family members, former colleagues. Our supporters amplify our success. Be grateful to what they are doing for you.
9. Stay true to yourself
I left the corporate world to try something new, something different. I followed my destiny. I believed I can bring even more value to the world and to myself by becoming a full-time coach. I did it because I knew it will make me happy, and also because my happiness, my positive energy, my experience, and my knowledge help teams and individuals become happier and more successful. There will be people and events coming your way, challenging the path you’ve chosen. Use your happiness and harmony with your true self as your driving force.
Save these as an inspiration for later!