Becoming CEO: Two Weeks Out

becoming CEO- Jessica Lawlor
Two weeks ago, I made a career (and life) changing announcement. I shared that I resigned from my job working in public relations to take my business, blog, brand and teaching full time.

Since that day, life has been a whirlwind. And in just two weeks, I will officially become my own boss. On February 1, 2016, this new journey officially begins.

As promised, I’m bringing you along for the ride- giving you a glimpse behind-the-scenes of the exact steps I’m taking to make this work.

Since my major announcement, here are the actions I’ve taken, how I really feel and my plans for next steps.

Actions I’ve Taken:

  • Spreading the news. Prior to publishing the official announcement, I made a list of people who I wanted to share the news with prior to making it public. There were several people in my network who I thought would appreciate hearing the news directly from me, and not from a blog post. That list turned out to be way more people than I initially expected! I ended up sending about 60 personal emails the day before I made the news live. Sending those emails took longer than I thought- an entire day, in fact- but this proved to be a crucial step because I wanted people in my network to know that they are important to me.
  • The master spreadsheet. As I sent those emails out, I simultaneously created a master spreadsheet that I’ve been using as my central hub to keep track of all my communication with friends, colleagues, current clients and potential clients. I’ve broken the spreadsheet into categories of people- some are labeled “potential clients”- those are people who upon receiving my announcement or reading my blog post reached out and expressed interest in potentially working together. I have another group labeled “good people to network with” and these are a list of super smart mentors, friends and colleagues who want to set up meetings or calls to chat, catch up and share words of wisdom. In the spreadsheet, I’ve been tracking my communication with all of these folks, as well as their contact information and what they are currently working on. Creating this spreadsheet has been a godsend- it makes me feel a little more in control knowing that I have this amazing list of people who are supporting me. Plus, it’s certainly keeping me organized and reminding me of when to reach out and follow up with certain people.
  • Meetings and calls, all day, every day! After I made my announcement, I was blown away (in the most positive way possible!) by the number of people who immediately wanted to set up calls and meetings. Since I’m still in my full-time job through the end of January, I’ve been packing my days with calls/meetings before and after work. While it’s a little exhausting to essentially have two full-time jobs right now, I know that this period of time is crucial to line up work, so I don’t panic on February 1. I’m also scheduling lots of meetings for the first few weeks of February when I’ll officially be out on my own.
  • I applied for health insurance. One of my biggest worries when I decided to become my own boss was figuring out healthcare. Luckily, thanks to the Affordable Healthcare Act, getting health insurance isn’t as difficult as I’ve heard it once was. I was so lucky to have a colleague offer up her mom as a resource to help me through the application process as she has great experience helping others apply. We jumped on a call and seamlessly went through the process. Based on my expected income and personal information, I was presented with several different plans and options that I evaluated. Tonight, I’ll officially choose one (today’s the deadline to get coverage for February 1) and hopefully I’ll be all set with my health insurance! I feel super proud that I overcame my first solopreneurship hurdle!

Next Steps:

  • Continue publicizing the news. With a background in public relations, publicizing the news of my new endeavor comes naturally to me- plus, it’s a good reminder that even though I’ll be working with clients, I need to remember to always prioritize promoting myself and my own business, too. I’ve developed a PR plan to spread the word in various phases. Phase one was emailing my network, publishing the announcement blog post and spreading the word on social media. Phase two involves a little more dedicated social media strategizing (I’ll be focusing on LinkedIn next week, for example), tell-all blog posts like this one and writing an announcement to share with my alma mater and various groups/organizations I am a part of.
  • Write proposals. Now it’s time to get to work! I’m enjoying chatting with potential clients and several have asked me to put together proposals of how exactly we can work together. I will be a busy bee this weekend and over the next week getting proposals over to various potential clients- I’m having a lot of fun brainstorming ideas and ways I can work with these people to help them achieve their goals. One thing that’s stressful about writing a proposal though? Pricing. It’s the age-old question…how do you charge for your services? And how do you know if what you’re charging is appropriate? This is something I’m working through at the moment.
  • More meetings and calls! With my schedule opening up in February, I’m scheduling lots more Skype calls and in-person meetings with awesome people. I love this part of the process because over the past year or so I’ve really missed going to events and getting to network. I’ve really kept my head down when it comes to getting work done, so the in-person stuff took a backseat. Now that I’m on my own, I know just how important maintaining these connections are and I’m excited to make this a priority. I also plan to join a few different groups (Solo PR Pros has come *highly* recommended) to ensure I have an extended network to lean on and draw resources from (I hear Solo PR offers up some amazing templates and pricing documents).

How I Feel:

I’ve experienced every single possible emotion over the past few weeks. Here’s how I’m currently feeling.

  • Grateful. First and foremost, I feel extremely grateful. I had NO idea how strong my support system was until I made my announcement. The number of likes on my Facebook post, tweets, Instagram comments, emails, phone calls, text messages and traffic to the blog post- truly, I was blown away. It was extremely hard to get anything done the day I made the announcement because I was so distracted by the wonderful people in my life. I feel truly overwhelmed with gratitude. This was also an amazing reminder that I am so lucky to have people in my life who root for me and support me.
  • Anxious. While I’m extremely excited and ready for this journey to begin, I won’t lie. My anxiety has been through the roof over the past few weeks. I think a lot of this stems from the fact that I am essentially doing two full-time jobs right now. I’m still trying to be a great employee at my current job and I have a long list of projects to wrap up + the “Jessica Bible” to draft for my replacement. At the same time, I’m trying to ramp up my own business with lots of calls, proposal writing and lining up work for February. I know that this period of time is crucial- and I know that while it’s not super fun at the moment, I’ll be grateful for all the work I did when I don’t feel super scared on February 1. I keep reminding myself that this month is crazy, but it’s only temporary.
  • Overwhelmed (and sleepy). With anxiety comes overwhelm. While I was super grateful and excited at the reaction to my news, all the communication that came at me that day and in the days that followed became a little overwhelming. My inbox was completely full (a good problem to have, for sure) but I wanted to make sure I got back to everyone in a timely manner, so I felt a little crazed trying to squeeze all of that in before I left for Jamaica for a week. Naturally, I’m also feeling a bit sleepy- I’m staying up later and waking up earlier to get everything done that I need to do. I’m working on this as I know I can only be my best self when I take care of my body and get enough sleep.
  • Ready. More than anything, I’m just wishing the days away hoping February 1 will get here a little sooner. I am so excited to get started! My February calendar is looking packed with awesome events, meetings, calls and already some exciting client work! I know this is the right move for me because I can’t WAIT to get started on these projects. I feel refreshed knowing that the work I’ll be taking on is exactly the work I want to do. I am READY.

Do you have ANY questions about what I’m doing? How I’m planning to make it work? How I’m feeling? What resources I’m using? 

Ask me anything! I’m going to be putting together a tell-all blog post answering YOUR questions in the coming weeks. I’ve already received so many great questions, but there’s still time to submit more! Feel free to leave your questions in the comments, tweet me or send me an email at jessicallawlor AT gmail dot com!

What do you think? Did I miss any major steps I should be taking? I’d love to hear from you!

Want more gutsy content delivered straight to your inbox twice a month? Be sure to sign up for my FREE #GetGutsy e-newsletter filled with inspiration, ideas and action items to get out of your comfort zone. When you sign up, you’ll also be sent a FREE copy of the Get Gutsy ebook, filled with 19 inspirational stories to help you get gutsy.