Becoming CEO: Month Two of Solopreneurship

becoming CEO- Jessica Lawlor

Hello from the end of month two of self-employment! March seriously flew by in a flurry of rewarding client work, exciting speaking opportunities, birthday celebrations and lots of yoga classes.

For those who are just catching up, in December, 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. 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 in the Becoming CEO series.

You can check out previous posts in the Becoming CEO series here: 

Let’s take a look at month two of solopreneurship! Here’s my month by the numbers, an income breakdown, lessons learned, the ups, the downs and how I’m feeling.

Month Two By The Numbers:

  • 13 phone/Skype calls (as compared to 24 last month)
  • 5 in-person meetings (as compared to 11 last month)
  • 18 meetings total (as compared to 35 last month)
  • 15 yoga classes taught
  • 3 podcast interviews recorded and one podcast interview from February that came out (Listen here to my interview with Jeff from the Intentionally Wandering podcast)
  • 2 speaking gigs
  • 1 new proposal sent
  • 1 blog consulting session completed
  • 1 brand new page of my site debuted- Yoga With Jessica

Month Two Income Breakdown:

Each month, I’ll share a percentage breakdown of my income. As you can see, I have multiple streams of income, so as time goes on, I’ll be curious to see which areas develop more than others, as well as what NEW areas might be added.

(Curious about the type of work I’m doing? Check out this client update)

month two income- Jessica Lawlor

A few thoughts on the income breakdown:

  • I don’t plan on sharing actual income figures (gotta keep some things private, right?) but I am super proud that in March, I increased my income from February by 23 percent.
  • Most excitingly, in March, I exceeded my monthly income from my former day job by 22 percent. This gives me even more confidence in my decision to take my business full time.
  • A couple of people asked me last month about the “blog management” category. Many thought it was income I was earning from this blog. That is not the case. Blog management is a service I offer where I manage and edit the blogs of other people/companies.
  • Wow! Public relations dominated my time and income this month. Definitely not a bad thing and I sort of anticipated this might happen given my six-year background in the industry. Naturally, this is what many people in my network know me as, so it’s a service I expected might grow rather quickly. I’m loving the PR work I’m doing with my clients.

Lessons Learned from Month Two:

  • Potential work comes from everywhere; sometimes in the places you least expect it to come from. I’ve been SO surprised at how some of my current clients have found me. It’s not always in the places you might expect. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is how important it is to nurture and stay in touch with your network (authentically). The majority of my clients are people I already knew, in some capacity, whether it was through the PR industry, through my old job or even here from the blog and social media.
  • Time management and focus are key. I mentioned last month that I thrive on structure, so I’m still working to find a schedule that works for me, but I’m slowly getting there. I’m realizing just how important time management is- it’s so easy to try to multi-task and get lost on the Internet and social media, but I’m working really hard to schedule my days and tasks for when my energy is at its greatest and when I’m able to focus. For example, I aim to complete blog work/writing projects early in the morning when I have the most creative energy. I’m only scheduling meetings and calls for the afternoon when I’m less focused and able to be a little bit more social.
  • Allow cushion time for client work/projects. It’s easy to want to please everyone and get everyone what they want/need yesterday. Early on, I found myself telling a client, “Yes, I’ll get you that proposal by tomorrow” or “Absolutely. The social media calendar will be complete in two days.” I was being unrealistic about my time. I quickly learned that when I cushion more time in, I create room for myself to truly do a great job without stressing myself out. Plus, none of my clients have balked at me telling them I’ll have something complete in three days, for example, rather than one.
  • When you create space in your life, you open yourself up to new opportunities. I was super nervous about quitting my job to start my own business because I thought there were a limited amount of opportunities out there. I worried that I wouldn’t find enough work to do. However, as soon as I cleared space in my life (and 50+ hours a week in my schedule), new opportunities seemed to pop up, in abundance. It’s true; when you create some space in your life, it’s like the universe knows that you’re ready and open for something new.

The Highs and Lows: 

There are always going to be good days and of course, there will always be not-so-hot days. Here are the things that made me super smiley and excited this month, along with some challenges I faced.

The Highs:

  • My story of why I quit my job to take my business full time was included in an article for The Huffington Post!
  • I spoke at my alma mater- twice! Once to a PR class and the second time for Temple PRSSA’s TU Invitational, which I recapped here.
  • I launched the yoga section of my website.
  • I turned 28!
  • I welcomed several new clients.
  • Running and I got back together! I started running again, which feels great. It’s nice to be able to go for a run in the middle of the day when the sun is shining.
  • My business cards arrived!
  • I have a fancy new business email address, so I’m slowly starting to separate personal/work.
  • I exceeded my income from February…and exceeded my monthly income from my day job!

The Lows:

  • I’m seriously struggling with waking up early. I used to pop out of bed at 5 a.m. because I knew I had a limited amount of time to get work done before heading to my day job, but now, with the whole day ahead of me, it’s easy to justify staying in bed until 7 some days, which leads me to feeling lazy and lethargic later on in the day.
  • Anxiety. Even though things are going well with my business, the level of anxiety I feel from time to time can be consuming. Once I find myself in that mental space, it’s difficult to break out of it.
  • With so much client work, I’m finding it challenging to make time for my own personal projects. For example, I had planned to re-launch my personal branding checklist in March, but each week, that task got pushed to the backburner with so much client work to do. I know I need to make my own work a priority.

How I Feel:

With Month Two behind me, I can definitely say I’m feeling a bit more grounded and confident, yet still slightly terrified and anxious. I’m sure I’ll feel this way for quite some time, if not forever.

(This quote from a Medium piece by Peter Shankman perfectly describes how I feel: “Going out on your own is hella-scary, and it never, ever gets less scary, no matter how much money you make. You’ll worry every single day that this is the day you’re going to screw it all up, and lose it all. You’ll think you’re full of shit every single day, but that’s what happens to entrepreneurs. You’ll get out of bed and the feeling will pass, and you’ll hit the shower smiling, no matter how early it is. You’d be scared on a regular basis and the paycheck wouldn’t be guaranteed. The excitement, however, most certainly would be. And that’s why we do it. Excitement is fun.”)

I’m proud that in month two, I took way less meetings and calls and kept my head down, doing the work. I welcomed several new clients in March, some for one-off projects and a couple for longer-term monthly commitments. I found myself super busy developing content, pitching the media, crafting social media posts and planning out editorial calendars.

Mostly, in month two, I felt like time flew by insanely fast, no matter how early I got out of bed or how late I stayed up working. This actually scared me a bit- the hours and days seriously seem to go by in the blink of an eye. I’m trying to stay present and focus on doing what I can do in this moment, without worrying too much about the past or the future.

My business is starting to feel more legitimate. My business cards arrived early in the month, which I was super pumped about.  I also started using Freshbooks for invoicing and tracking expenses and I’m loving the service. More on that to come soon. I figured out my 2015 taxes (ugh, the really not-so-fun part of solopreneurship). There are still a few more boring business-y things to put in place, but I’m feeling good about the steps I’ve taken to legitimize what I’m doing.

Most of all, I can say with complete confidence that I know this was the right move for me. There hasn’t been a day I’ve regretted my decision and I haven’t looked back once. I can’t wait to keep moving forward. There’s so much to look forward to in the months to come!

Onto Month Three! Stay tuned- I’ll continue sharing these recaps monthly.

Have any questions about becoming CEO and my second month in business? I’d love to answer your questions and hear your thoughts about this journey!

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Jessica_Lawlor_Blog Bio@2x

Meet Jessica

I live by the saying “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” and help others do the same to reach their biggest, brightest goals. Read my story here.

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