Updated: Dec 3, 2021
· a manager within a company who promotes innovative development and marketing.
A year ago, I turned the page on my business. When push came to shove because of c***d (I don’t even care to say the word anymore), I had to make a decision: start back up or get a “job”.
What a weird concept for an entrepreneur: getting a job. There was a stigma I couldn’t get over, for sure. But as I assessed my life: kids, spouse, ambitions, responsibilities, it was time to really consider if the timing was right to start back up with my start-up.
As most of us do, I went to my “why”.
· Why did I have my business?
· Why did I not want to have a job?
· What are my intentions?
· What is the end goal?
The answer was simple and similar for each: for the betterment of my children and to positively impact society: locally and globally.
Now the real question: if the “job” checked all the boxes, what was the real issue? Was it my ego?
I contemplated this question on my hour-long commute day in and day out for months, until finally, I saw it for what it was: grief.
In the first stage, I couldn’t possibly accept a job offer from anyone. I was in denial that I was done putting effort into my company. I occupied myself with busy work from clients: each with their own offer for full-time employment. But how could I accept? I had never given up before and I was angry with myself for doing so. Incidentally, anger is the second stage of grief.
The third stage, bargaining, was where I lingered longest. I toyed with different business models and new concepts; I even had someone interested in buying the company. I talked myself out of it for so many reasons: social climate not conducive to our service offering, issues of trust, or worst still, I kept coming up with fresh ideas on how to relaunch successfully, even though I had exhausted my passion to execute them.
I stayed in this self-imposed purgatory for months.
It was at this stage that I ultimately made the decision to become an intrapreneur. The echoes of a mentor reminded me that every time you say “yes” to one thing, you are saying “no” to something else.
For 3 years, I had said yes to my start-up. I loved every minute of it. But I just wanted to say yes to my children more now. It made the decision to let go so much easier.
But why wasn’t it over?
The week I said yes, I was excited and relieved to be done bargaining with myself. I just did not understand why this nagging feeling kept festering. Clearly, I just had to work through and find my groove.
And then, it happened:
My birthday was that week. I do not typically celebrate my birthday outside of my household with the family, so I was really surprised when one of our executives popped into my office with a “happy birthday” and a gift bag of wine.
What a nice gesture. I immediately opened it to see a bottle of red staring back at me. I held back the tears as I examined the bottle, expressed gratitude, and watched him walk out the door.
What had I done? Did I make a mistake? Was this my life now? Imprisoned in someone else’s ambition and unable to fulfill my own? I went out to my car and sobbed. I know it was a thoughtful gift with absolutely no regard for the name. But The Prisoner?!?! REALLY?!?!?!
I felt trapped and sad and depressed, the fourth stage of grief.
It really was over.
I had poured so much sweat and tears into my business that I couldn’t fathom not having it. It was just as much me as I was it. Besides, was letting it go an admittance of failure? So many feelings.
Full disclosure: I drank that bottle of wine all in one sitting that weekend, deciding prior to, that when the bottle was done, so was the grief. I was done failing at balance. And so, my decision was the right one.
The final stage: acceptance. Now that I am past the loss of my start-up, moving forward has truly been eye-opening. I do get the occasional “I was almost in your position” comment from some networking friends whose businesses were adversely affected by this situation but kept open. I definitely thought it would make me sad, but it hasn’t. In fact, my immediate feeling is their weight. A weight I carried while I was grappling with my identity and future. I felt it heaviest mid-grief and I feel it for them as they open up about their struggles and how they are working to overcome them. And to be clear: I believe they will.
As for me, I am at peace. I focus on being the absolute best at what I do and maximizing my ambition, just like when I owned the business. Except this time, I perform at my best for one client: Source 1 Solutions, my employer. And I work with the best team in the world.
The truth is, there really is no difference between being an entrepreneur and an intrapreneur, except maybe a more invested board of advisors *aka, my executive team*
I still wake up motivated, I work hard because I love to, I invest in my personal & professional development, I make well-informed decisions independently, and if those decisions end up being a mistake, I adjust fire and keep going.
I am still able to make an impact in my community while representing a team that is badass. They may not realize the term, but they all are leveraged to be intrapreneurs at Source 1 and it is why they are so good at what they do.
Even more than the satisfaction of working with a like-minded cohort, I am overwhelmed with gratitude to have some work/family balance once again.
Making a change is nothing to be ashamed of. Evolution is an integral part of personal growth.