Written By: Jillian Climie.
Never in my life had I considered being an entrepreneur. Not growing up, not in university, not in my early 20’s when I was trying to find a career that fit, and not after leaving my job in 2020 to take time off. However, giving myself space from work was what ultimately led me to entrepreneurship. Part of my “career pause” was letting myself do more creative things. Instead of spreadsheets, powerpoints, and meetings, I bought a piano, I wrote poetry, I listened to full music albums – and I created a website for a blog.
Around that same time I went for dinner with a friend, Sophie Warwick. She also was looking to start writing more, so we decided to join forces and hold ourselves accountable to consistently writing about what we were passionate about. Slowly over weeks and months that snowballed into us launching what is now The Thoughtful Co. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I’m so happy I’m here. In an effort to maybe convert a few others into the unpredictable but exciting world of entrepreneurship, especially women, I’m sharing some of my highlights here.
Pursuing what you’re passionate about
I’m a millennial, and I believe many of us struggle with trying to find a career that makes us truly happy. This is inherently tough, because happiness is a feeling, not a constant state of being in your job. What I’ve realized entrepreneurship allows for is chasing your passion instead of your happiness. What inherently makes you so excited or angry or go into hyperdrive? For me it’s gender equity. Ever since I can remember, I've been fierce about women being equal. It is innate in me, something I don’t have to force. It doesn’t always make me happy, but it definitely motivates me. I now do that for my day-to-day work and it drives me consistently through the fun and not-so-fun work. When you do something you naturally have energy for, you can create incredible things. Some can find this within corporate structures, but I believe some have to create their own.
Creating your own structure
With “The Great Resignation”, there was a sense that our current workplace structures are not working for employees. So many of us are working far beyond the 40 hour work week, and lines are blurring between work and life. Employees are not getting the space they need to recharge, and are overwhelmed with conflicting work and life demands. Entrepreneurship allows you to take back control of your time, and create a structure that works for you. It is undoubtedly hard work. I don’t think many entrepreneurs would say they’re working reduced hours while they’re building a company – but for me, I’m able to use my energy much more efficiently. When I’m feeling productive, I zone in for hours, and when I need space, I take it. Overall, I work less hours than I did in corporate, but my impact is much higher. Entrepreneurship enables you to see how you work best and lean into that. You also can play to your unique strengths and focus on what you’re good at, and outsource what you’re not or what depletes your energy.
Your own MBA
In entrepreneurship you cover it all: finance, marketing, legal, sales, human resources, strategy – and of course attempting to build and scale a product or service. I went to business school so I thought I would know some of this already, but I was wrong. I’ve learned so much about different parts of the business that I never valued before, and how different functions shape up over time. My co-founder has helped me to understand different industries and ways of thinking, and I’ve learned from friends and mentors who specialize in certain areas, from public relations to digital marketing to sales strategy. Entrepreneurship helps you realize how much you don’t know – it keeps you humble – but also shows you the incredible things you can achieve if you have the right team and support systems around you. And it gives you the opportunity to gain skills in all different areas of the business, instead of specializing in just one.
It can be tough
Entrepreneurship can be hard; it comes with high highs and low lows. Sometimes I question everything I’m doing, and other times I feel like I’m taking on the world. At first these ups and downs are disorienting, but I’ve learnt so much about myself through them. I can now more steadily manage through wins and losses and see the long-term view. I trust myself as a leader. Entrepreneurship can be romanticized, when often it is day-in day-out slow building. It also is risk-taking, and leaving behind financial certainty. It takes time, optimism and support. But there is nothing better than building something from scratch, which will impact the world in some small or big way.
I believe we need more women entrepreneurs creating businesses they are passionate about. Globally, 1 in 3 businesses are owned by women, but we’re seeing entrepreneurship on the rise – women started 49% of new businesses in the US in 2021. Research has shown women entrepreneurs perform 63% better than male counterparts, yet venture capital funding for women-led businesses is still at a dismal ~2%. We need to fund and champion diverse entrepreneurs who may look different than those we have seen in the past.
If you’re a service-based entrepreneur like myself, and need help setting your own rates, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We advise self-employed women in setting market appropriate rates for your services and confidently communicating your "hook". Book in a one-on-one session here or send us an email to learn more at firstname.lastname@example.org.