Jessica Lindgren is the latest in my Quitters series, all about people who've quit & are better for it. Jessica quit her corporate job a year ago to start her own business. Spoiler alert: she's kicking ass. We talk about her worst case scenario, finding the guts and office cats.
* * *
What did you quit and why?
A year ago, I quit my full time job to start my own company!
What did your life feel like before you quit?
I was exhausted and stressed out. Like, all. the. time. Dragging myself out of bed every morning, barely making it to the office on time, and doing very little other than binge-watch Netflix when I got home every night. I was good at my job, but my job wasn't a good fit for me, and it took a long time to admit that to myself.
What pushed you to quit?
As an occasional freelancer, I had worked off and on over the previous three years with my Graphic Designer for an overall look and feel to the brand, his insanely talented Illustrator sister for my logo, and my Web Designer/Developer for a shiny web presence. Gal Friday 612 was always something I did for fun, and I never had any serious plans to make it a full-time gig.
After a couple of years of reading Seth Godin, Entrepreneur Magazine, and other business blogs, I woke up one day and realized I had paid off all my debts, saved up a year's worth of expenses, and had an excellent foundation for the Gal Friday 612 brand. In a nutshell, I had done exactly what a lot of reputable resources recommended you do before going into business for yourself.
In the weeks leading up to quitting, I still applied and interviewed for a number of other jobs, but just wasn't getting excited about any of them. Making Gal Friday 612 a full-time venture seemed a little crazy on the surface, but it was starting to look more and more appealing to me the longer I went without finding The Job For Me with another company.
With all of my proverbial ducks in a row, and no thrilling job leads, I figured the worst thing that could happen is I could try to make Gal Friday 612 my full-time job and fail. Wait, scratch that - I knew that the actual worst thing that could happen is I could never even try. That realization pushed me to make the leap into self employment and not look back.
So tell me about this Girl Friday biz you started. What exactly do you do?
I am the Founder & Main Gal at Gal Friday 612 - what that means in practical terms is that I am a freelance Administrative Professional. With over a decade of experience as an Executive Assistant under my belt (omg I am so old...), it was easy to feel like I wanted to help everyone with everything, but in order to be successful, you have to specialize. Since I wasn't finding my dream job with anyone else, I picked the parts of being an Executive Assistant that I love best (Event Management, Personal Assistance, and Office Management) and created my dream job.
Working for myself, I've been afforded the opportunity to work in all three major areas of expertise that I offer. I've added and subtracted tons of services from my website over the last year, and I love having the flexibility to decide what I will and won't work on. If it's something I'm not interested in or available for, I have a wide network of professionals that I can refer clients along to. When someone wants their taxes done, to hire a maid, or any other number of services, if I'm not the right fit for the job, I can guarantee I know someone who is!
The hardest part about quitting?
Mustering up the guts to tell my bosses was probably the hardest part. I felt like I was letting them down, or failing them somehow. It's important to remember that when you leave a job, things will adjust in the wake of your departure.
Quitting can be emotionally taxing. Who or what helped you cope?
Every single person I told about my plan to quit supported me 100%. There is no way I could have made it through quitting without my friends, family, and even the complete strangers who told me they were proud of me for striking out on my own. Bonus high fives to my boyfriend and two cats who continue to have my back 24/7.
I'm not going to lie - there was a week immediately after quitting where I did nothing but stay up late, sleep in, play video games, snuggle my cats and have pizza rolls and beer three meals a day. It was the best damn week of my life, and I highly recommend it to anyone quitting anything at all.
Take time to detox from whatever was stressing you out. You'll be amazed at how motivated you are to start kicking ass and taking names after rebooting yourself.
Was quitting scary for you? Why or why not?
Quitting was scary, but in an exhilarating way - the way I imagine skydiving feels. I'm a big believer in doing something every day that scares the crap out of you - if it's not scary, what's the point?
How did you feel immediately after you quit?
I felt like a million bucks! I was breathing easier, sleeping better, and was happier than I had been in a long time. My massage therapist noticed an immediate difference in my shoulders, which is where I have always carried my stress. Having my financial cushion made it possible to have that aforementioned chillaxing week without feeling the pressure of immediately finding billable work.
How do you feel now? Any regrets?
A year later, I'm still feeling like a million bucks. I set my own schedule, my clients are fab, and business is booming. Plus, when I work from home, OFFICE CATS. I call them my Administrative Assistants.
Occasionally, I will offhandedly joke that my only regret is not quitting and starting my own business sooner, but I know I did it at the right time - if I had done it earlier, I wouldn't have been as well-prepared and open to the adventure.
How has quitting changed your life?
Over the past year, I have learned SO MUCH about business, and picked up many new skills. For instance, I've never worked in sales, but it turns out I'm really good at it, and I love doing it! Most of the time it doesn't even feel like I'm working, because I'm having so much fun with my clients. I had no idea earning a living could be this awesome.
I have traveled more this year than I ever have before! As an Executive Assistant, it's nearly impossible to actually take time off from work without being tied to your mini Internet machine. Living in the future affords me the opportunity to work from anywhere and everywhere, and if your clients rock, they don't care about the how or where you get your work done - they just care that it gets done on time. If you play your cards right, you can take several days off at a stretch without a second thought.
Advice to someone who's thinking of quitting?
DO IT. I mean, do your homework first, but if you're thinking about quitting your job, set your goals and plan your route toward achieving them. Got an extra $50? Order some business cards! Vacation days that you need to use or lose? Take informational interviews with anyone and everyone who will let you buy them a cup of coffee - you never know where those meetings will take you in the future.
Save up the money your Grandparents send you this holiday season for setting up an LLC. It only takes $155, a kick-ass business name, and 15 minutes of your time. Start shopping around for an accountant, an insurance agent, and a lawyer. Spend one day a week working at a coworking facility. Then, when you actually do quit, you'll be ready to hit the ground running instead of facing a laundry list of "to-dos."
You can always drop your favorite Gal Friday a note to ask for advice, too. Jessica can be reached at hello at galfriday612 dot com.
* * *
Check out other Quitters here.
PS If you want to share your quitting story, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.