Back in November of 2020 I wrote a piece about the gut-wrenching realities I was facing as an entrepreneur during (what we thought was) the height of the covid-19 pandemic. I won’t rehash it all (you can read it HERE), but the essence of the piece was about how it felt like doors and business opportunities were deadlocked no matter how hard I tried to knock them down. Or how much I tried to lean into former colleagues for conversations and the surprising result … deafening silence.
After years of building my marketing career at leading brands, and 3.5 years into the decision to go out on my own as a marketing consultant, it seemed as if I made a severe wrong turn and into a dead end. A dead end where I had no gas left in the tank, no more survival tools to access, and no more ‘call-a-friends’ left in my contacts to try to lean on for a chance.
A lot has changed in the 14 months since I wrote that piece, and it has brought lessons to the surface I feel compelled to share with anyone who is an entrepreneur, struggling with career decisions, wondering if the rut will ever end, or just looking for some hope in the times we all find ourselves in.
I went from having the worst year of my career (2020), to arguably the best year of my career (2021), and thankfully 2022 seems to be on a path to repeat the last year.
It can, and it will, get better.
Perseverance will always prevail
It may not be obvious at the time, but that constant hustle will lead to opportunities. Some might take more time to land than others, but hustle shows heart.
In June of 2021 I signed 3 consulting contracts within 24 hours. One of those clients was the result of over 6 months of conversations; conversations where I consistently reached back out to inquire about status, what I could do to help, and just remind them that I existed and was ready. One was the result of 2 months of conversations, and one took less than a week of ‘can you help us with’ to ‘you start on Monday.’
You never know what is waiting for you around the corner. You just need to be brave enough to go down a road less traveled … even if it’s a painfully long one.
No state is permanent (positive or negative)
I try to remind myself of this often. It is certainly a harder concept to digest when you are in a rough spot in life, but at the risk of being overly cliché, this too shall pass.
Even when your career, family life, or personal situation is thriving, take stock of how you’re feeling during the highs. Embrace the good, take note of what you did to get you there, and pack it into your arsenal of tools so that you can access it all again when life throws you the lows.
Your relationships with people are everything
Some of my client work has come from people taking a chance on me (I.e. We hadn't worked together before, but they thought my background and pitch on how to help their business was worth giving me the project.) However, most of my client work over the last 5 years has been through referrals, repeat business, contacts, colleagues from my corporate life, or paths that crossed on current client files.
I pride myself on handling every project and business relationship as if I am an investor in my client’s business. I also see huge value in trying to understand people personally. We all want to be seen and heard, and that doesn’t change in a business setting.
We surprisingly all still find ourselves in the throws of a pandemic. I have no doubt every one of us is struggling with something that we didn’t envision for ourselves pre-March 2020.
What should be even more surprising, is that we’re making it. We’re finding ways to build a kind of resilience and attitude we probably never knew we were capable of. If you find yourself at a dead end in this moment, there’s always an opportunity to turn around and keep driving.
The signs will guide you in the right direction. And who knows, this secondary path may lead you to an even brighter location.