A guest post on starting a business by Molly Nutt, founder of Acorn Digital Strategy NW.
At the time, I was only about a year into my corporate career. I was “just getting started” in my career and the youngest on my team. It was a great job, a good company with solid benefits, cool coworkers, a 401K matching program, stock options, plenty of added perks, and just a 10-minute commute when we were still in office.
I list all these “pros” because it sounds like I should have been excited about my situation on paper. Why would I want to risk starting a business? Why would I want to leave my comfortable corporate job with so many positive perks?
I wanted more freedom, more passion, more control over my time, more adventure, more traveling, and more happiness (not just before 8 AM, after 5 PM, and on the weekends). The worst part was knowing I was the only one standing in my way to get all these things.
Side note: I had an ex-boyfriend in college say to me “Happiness isn’t real. You should just try to be content in life.” Apparently, I was too cheerful for him. Even though the relationship ended soon after that comment was made, his so-called advice sure stuck with me. It made me realize how I wholeheartedly did want to pursue happiness, not contentedness in life.
So maybe it was my desk job, maybe it was the pandemic, maybe it was The Great Resignation bandwagon, or maybe it was contentedness. Regardless, I had dreams of starting a business. In late 2020 I started making plans to launch Acorn Digital Strategy NW and become my own boss.
I started slow and with a lot of trepidation. I worked for a few clients after my corporate job and on weekends and started getting more clients through referrals. At the time, I was doing anything and everything digital marketing-related. I built websites, analyzed Google Analytics data, SEO, wrote website copy, wrote blogs, designed logos, managed newsletters, and gave social media support… if I didn’t know how to do something a client asked me to do, I learned how to.
So in April of 2021, I decided it would be good to get support, so I signed up for a group coaching program, the Laptop Lifestyle Bootcamp. It helped me realize I can’t do it all. It wasn’t sustainable in starting a business, scalable, and didn’t make me happy to do everything for everyone.
So I had to ask myself: What do I love doing the most? What am I naturally the best at? What can I see myself doing every day?
I’ve always loved writing. I wrote for the college magazine, I wrote for the job I had in college, and it’s what I did every day as a Sr. Communications Specialist in my corporate career. For some reason, I just didn’t consider I could create a full-on business out of writing.
But holy shit, I proved myself wrong quickly.
My business took off as soon as I focused solely on copywriting and content marketing. Marketing, sales, and business planning got way easier, and I started loving the work.
I reached a tipping point around September of 2021. I was getting so busy with clients that I worked every evening and every weekend just to keep up.
Was I terrified to lose my comfy health benefits, 401K matching, set salary, and all the other “pros” of corporate life? Abso-fricken-lutely. I was stressing out to the max.
But I put in my notice, and just a few weeks later, I was a full-time business owner.
It took over a year of consistent work, but I built a business and took it full time. I travel when I want to and work from my laptop anywhere. I work when I need to, and I play when I want to.
I’ve been a full-time business owner for almost four months when writing this post. I’m making more than I did in my corporate job. I hired an assistant, have a full client workload, and am learning what to do next to scale my business sustainably (shoutout to Caitlyn for the sustainable scaling education!).
Starting a business can be lonely, terrifying, stressful (so many emotions!), so I hope reading this post helps you see that you’re not alone.
Now, I have to add a disclaimer that I’m skipping a lot of details in this post. I’m skipping over many late nights, tears, soul searching, money and hours invested in coaching programs, financial planning, saving, and over-thinking.
I feel okay skipping these details because the moral of the story is if you want something to change, you have to figure out how to do it. My process of figuring it all out will look different than yours, and that’s totally normal!
Decide what you want most out of life, and then start going after it before you’re ready.