For as long as I can remember, I have never wanted to start my own company. Having spent my childhood in a small family-owned business, I craved the stability and perceived freedom I associated with the corporate world. As I progressed in my career, I began to recognize that the perception I had of the corporate world wasn’t fully accurate or fair. I kept seeking out the perfect trifecta for me – a company that was purpose-led with strong values, an executive team whose actions and words aligned with those values, and a role that was challenging for me where I could continue to learn and grow. Every time I thought I had found it, something happened that showed me I hadn’t yet. I was growing more and more disillusioned.
Then, a new friend that I met over a networking breakfast asked me, “why haven’t you started your own business?” I answered with my usual response of “I’m a single mom with 3 kids and I don’t really want to take the risk.” As I was driving home from that meeting, I had a moment of clarity. I realized everything I had told her was an excuse. One that really didn’t hold water anymore. That was on a Friday. By the following Tuesday, Leedan Consulting LLC was established. Now that Leedan is a year old, it is a good time to pause, reflect, and set an intention for the future.
Get Ready for a Crazy Hat Collection
When I joined a company as an employee, I had access to all sorts of resources. Need a Microsoft Word or PowerPoint template? Go to the company intranet or ask the marketing department. Have an issue with my paycheck? Talk to HR or accounting. Need more pens and paper? Swing by the office supply room.
When I started my own business, I pretty much had nothing. Everything had to be created or procured. I was the CEO, CFO, CMO, CRO, COO, CTO, general counsel, graphic designer, webmaster, copywriter, scheduler, custodian, accountant, travel agent, sales team, and more. I had to draw on all of my experiences and skill sets, some of which hadn’t been used in decades. I had to decide which functions I wanted to handle myself and which ones should be outsourced to specialists. I had to wear so many hats on any given day that my head was constantly spinning.
Emotional Roller Coaster
Starting my own business reminded me a lot of being a new mother. I could start the day on the highest high and end on the lowest low and vice versa. I had moments of self-doubt and wondering what the hell I got myself into. I would vacillate from wanting to jump back into the relative safety and familiarity of being a corporate employee to never wanting to work for someone else again. Some days I even contemplated what it would be like to become a hermit and live off the land (although that thought never lasts long given I’m an extrovert who hates insects and has a black thumb).
The bottom line is that I didn’t anticipate the magnitude of the emotional roller coaster that starting my own business and being accountable only to myself would bring. I also realized I didn’t have to do it alone. There were many people willing and able to help along the way. Leaning on trusted advisors, practicing self-care, and having a supportive domestic partner helped me navigate these ups and downs. I learned to give myself grace and to celebrate the little wins, even if it was just managing to figure out WordPress enough to publish a small change to the website.
Getting Over My Hangups
As a sole proprietor, I am responsible and accountable for building my sales pipeline and executing on contracts. Even when I leverage independent contractors, I am still on the hook. I have always had an aversion to business development and sales because it felt slimy and inauthentic to me. Obviously this aversion is a major roadblock when starting a new business. I have had to consciously change my mindset into looking at networking as reconnecting with old friends and colleagues or meeting new potential friends to share knowledge and solve problems together. If an engagement or referral comes of it, great! If not, it’s still great because I got to fill my bucket with human connection and interesting discussions.
Gratitude and Manifestations Matter
I believe strongly in the law of attraction. I create annual vision boards and practice gratitude regularly. When I start feeling overwhelmed or downtrodden, I recenter myself by expressing gratitude for what I do have. I focus on the process of building the business – writing content, reaching out to people – rather than on the outcome of revenue. And you know what? That authentic positive energy comes back in spades. I have had wonderful referral business from friends and colleagues I respect. I’ve been able to connect people who may have never met otherwise. I have been able to give back to my local community of women leaders and developed strong friendships as a result. I am manifesting my future one day at a time and I’m excited to see what’s to come.
The Future is Bright
Starting a business was exhilarating! I wanted a role that was challenging. Being a business owner is certainly that! As Leedan Consulting grows and adds full time employees, I intend to leverage my personal values into creating a culture of radical transparency and integrity where every person can bring their whole, authentic selves to work every day solving problems for clients that help make this world a better place. I want to show my kids that they have the power to change their own lives by challenging their perceptions and limitations. I aim to build lasting relationships that are mutually uplifting, especially in ways that support other women and minorities. I am creating the trifecta I’ve been searching for my whole career and making it accessible to others who seek the same. Most importantly, I am eternally grateful for the multitude of people who have, and continue to, believe in me and support me on this journey.