My Entrepreneurial journey

When I left a full-time, permanent role to become an independent consultant, I had limited understanding of the journey of entrepreneurship.  The draw was the flexibility and choices it offered me: to walk my dogs in the morning, to turn down work I didn’t believe in and time to research new approaches. I enthusiastically dived into getting going, with limited consideration of how it might actually work out (not usual for me!).   My journey is by no means unique, but I wanted to share the patterns I started to notice

My initial sense of excitement was quickly replaced with a growing sense of discomfort.  There were so many questions that needed answering that I felt woefully unqualified to answer. I also started to understand the downsides of my choice, as the rose tinted spectacles slipped.

The first thing was how consciously incompetent I felt to answer the practical questions my web designer was asking me; what was I was selling; to whom was I selling and why would these potential clients buy from me? . On multiple occasions, my designer heard the thud as my head hit the desk as I muttered ‘I don’t know’.  As someone who likes to do things ‘right’, creating a website that was ‘good enough for now’ was deeply uncomfortable. I noticed how vulnerable I felt and how this made me doubt my abilities.

This was coupled with being lonely.  Whilst I was out drinking multiple coffees, having networking lunches and dinners with people, I lacked the depth of real connections with fellow professionals with whom I could really talk to about my business. Also as an extrovert, I needed that interaction, to engage with people who could help me make sense of my sales pitch, how I priced myself and to challenge me on the work I wanted to do and how to go about doing it.

I also started to truly feel the financial insecurity of being an entrepreneur.  As someone who enjoys things that are hard, my habit to go harder and faster kicked in and so I focused on doing more. Not surprisingly, this meant meeting lots of people, getting excited about multiple possibilities and having to work late into the night to do what I had promised.  This scattergun approach wasn’t giving me the flexibility and choice I had wanted.   I was also feeling the grip of imposter syndrome; as insecurities about my competence started at the point when I needed to feel confident to sell my services to potential clients.

Having looked for ways to get help, I joined a supervision group, what agile practitioners would call a retrospectives group, who were able to give me the connections I needed and build my capacity to see patterns and habits that were helping (or not!). This group provided a safe space where I could show my vulnerability to ultimately get the support I required.

My entrepreneurial journey continues, and the insights I have gained are invaluable. Asking for help to articulate my product or develop my marketing strategy seems a safe thing to do, but I also needed to talk about how it feels to go it alone and ask for help with the emotional rollercoaster. I have found the supervision group was able to help me face some of my habits and patterns to help me build my resilience and capability.

Carrie Birmingham

Through group supervision, Carrie was able to fully own her identify as a female entrepreneur and coach, enabling her to create a successful business.