Picking up where I left off in early December, I've been meaning to write this update since the new year! To summarize, I left full-time employment 5 months ago when my daughter was nearly 11 months old. I did this for several reasons - first, so that I could spend more time with her and try out being a stay-at-home parent. That is the primary goal in all of this, and I have to remind myself of it from time to time. So far, I've truly loved it despite the learning curve and hardships.
If you've been following along as I write about my journey towards starting a business, you'll notice I haven't written too much about my struggles. Believe me, they are there. I think the challenges and phases are fairly well documented for new business owners, though, so I've been trying to work through those offline and stick to a primarily positive or at least thoughtful tone as I document my unique journey. Here's one article about the benefits of taking control of your story and making conscious choices about what that story will be.
Since I started my business barely 2 months ago, I've been employing a rapid iteration model to quickly move past plans or options that either aren't working or aren't worth continuing to pursue. While I started my business with plenty of content and experience in delivering the product, I did not have a formal business plan or model. This is not an advisable way to actually start a business, but from the design thinking mindset I am embracing experimentation. This is all a big experiment. I might go back to full-time work sooner than later. I am literally validating my business (think of it as a testable prototype) against the real world. Not a focus group. Not Q&A with friends and family. Just straight up putting it out there.
By the calendar, it has been one month since I left my job. 30 days of not working full-time, 30 days of being at home with my daughter, and 30 days of trying to find a new balance with starting my business and doing freelance and project work. Now, I'm not really good at the whole "relax, wait and see what happens" thing, so I pretty much always plan ahead, in advance. Before I had even left my job, I had 10 hours per week lined up with the Edison Papers Archive, an awesome project that needs a seriously technology boost. It just so happens to perfectly align with my master's degree, in which I focused on digital libraries - something I was never able to put into use professionally. This project provides me with predictable monthly income, which is really great for peace of mind. It's not enough to cover the gaping hole left by not having a full-time salary, but it's a significant contribution to our monthly expenses.
It just happened this past weekend. It wasn't the day I decided to leave my job. It wasn't the day I decided to file the forms to start an LLC. It wasn't the day I launched my website to advertise my first product, NJ UX Web Design Bootcamp. It wasn't even the day I got my first registration and made my first sale. No, it was the day I ran my first training, met my customers face-to-face, and delivered my product. Everything was theory and concept up to that point.
I've worked full-time in information technology for 15 years. Started in 2001, and just kept going. It was never my plan. Although I did intend to major in computer science my first semester in college, I quickly dropped that plan when I found out they had no courses on the internet or networking. There was no IT major at the time. My interests were broad, so I jumped around majors from Japanese & East Asian Studies, to maybe Classics, to possibly Linguistics, and finally settled on Geography. By the time I settled and graduated, I was already a part-time student working full-time in IT, and would have had to take a significant pay cut to become a park ranger, GIS technician, or whatever else it is geographers are qualified to do. The money was good, and hey, I was a techie. So I kept going.