There’s a moment in each of our lives that defines who we really are as entrepreneurs. I had a defining moment in my entrepreneurial journey, and so will you. It’s these transformative, life-altering, amazing moments I want to talk about in this post.
Ready for it? Let’s do it.
Anyone who's starting something new, like your own business, becoming your own boss, or venturing out into the online business space, you're going to face a few roadblocks. You're going to be met with obstacles and challenges, and you're going to want to go back to where you were. Back to that safe place. Back to the comfort. Because the more we encounter discomfort, the more likely we want to find a place that’s familiar and comfortable. For some of us, that comfort is the nine-to-five job. For others, it's staying in the current business that we're building and not trying something new or taking risks to get to that next level.
The purpose of this post is to help you figure out what those defining moments can be. Often times, they are hurdles, obstacles, roadblocks on the path toward something greater. If we can break through those challenges, we’re going to be better off as entrepreneurs because we’ve learned to face our fears, take risks, and push forward.
When I started my online entrepreneurial journey, I wanted to give up several times within the first year and a half. I wanted to go back to my nine-to-five job. When I was laid off, that’s the first thing I wanted to do. Let me tell you, this is a normal feeling. It means you’re human! It also means you have so much room to grow.
At that time, when I was in my nine-to-five job, I never thought about becoming an entrepreneur. And so, when I was laid off, my first instinct was to say, I'm uncomfortable, let me call every single architect that I know, every single consulting firm that I’ve ever worked with, and beg to see if there are any job openings. Fortunately, there were none, and that forced me to explore other options.
It was then that I discovered online business. That was the start of my process to discover my defining moment. It would come shortly after that (more on that below!). Eight years later, and what a crazy entrepreneurial journey it has been! If you’re curious about the complete story of my leap from nine-to-five architect to online entrepreneur, or feel like you need a bit of inspiration to nudge you toward conquering that next obstacle, I’d recommend you read my book, Let Go.
And guess what? Let Go is now available on audiobook via Audible! Start listening today! [Full disclosure: This will send you to my Audible affiliate link. As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.]
When I get stuck, even today, I often think about the one moment that defined me as an entrepreneur. I think a lot of entrepreneurs have this one moment, and when they think about it, it helps them realize why they're doing what they’re doing. It’s easy to lose track of why we do what we do, isn’t it? We get so so engulfed in our work, we often forget to zoom out and realize why we're doing this in the first place.
There are a lot of strategies that can help us move forward: accountability partners, mastermind groups, vision boards, goal-setting, and things like that. But, in my experience, one of the most powerful motivators of all is thinking back on that defining moment, which always reminds us of why we do what we do.
Why do you do what you do? Is it for a better future? For your family?
For me, I strive forward and focus on my defining moment for a better future, for my family, and for the goal of challenging myself to do things differently than I’ve done in the past. I go back to my defining moment often, just to remind myself of why I’m doing this. And you can to. In every person's life, there is a moment that we can go back to and replay in our heads. This moment, when we think about it or we tell the story to others, it becomes obvious that we can't go back and we must continue doing what we're doing, that we are on the exact path we need to be on.
For me, that defining moment came in 2009, in the form of a phone call, months after I had started my own business, eight or nine months after I was laid off.
But let me back up just for a moment and explain what I had been doing since my layoff.
I created my very first niche site, GreenExamAcademy.com. If you want to read about everything that led up to that point, I documented it in the post, “The History of My First Online Business.” Several months after I was laid off, my little niche site starting doing really well, earning between $20,000 and $30,000 a month in ebook sales. Even with making that amount of money (something I definitely wasn’t used to), I still worried in the back of my mind that tomorrow there would be no sales; or that the next week I would be out in the field looking for another job in architecture because the whole thing just dried up. I didn't realize, because I had never done it before, how far this online business idea could go.
I am now confident that making money online is something I can continue to do. I'm confident in my skills; I'm confident that, even if everything were to fall flat today, I have the ability to pick myself back up and continue into better and more profitable things down the road. I realize now that this is who I am. But it took getting laid off to make that happen. Well, really it took my defining moment, which came many months after I was laid off. Because at that point, even when the business was doing well, I was still thinking about whether or not I had made the right decision.
My Defining Moment
Then I received a phone call from my former boss from the architecture firm. The same boss who had let me go. He called to ask how I was doing. I could tell when he called that he was sensitive to the fact that he was the one who let me go. It was thoughtful of him to reach out and check up on me. He had asked how I was doing and expressed his hope that everything was okay, which felt good. He knew how difficult that experience was for me, so this gesture from him was appreciated.
And then he offered me a job. He wanted to offer me a new position in the firm that he had started after he left the old firm. He had started his own firm, and took some of my former coworkers with him. I would have had my own office, which I had never had before. I had always worked in a cubicle. I would have continued to be a job captain. I would have had more pay than I had ever had as an architect. And he offered to pay for my move and for one year’s rent.
I was floored by his offer. The crazy thing is that, if he had reached out a few months earlier, before GreenExamAcademy.com starting doing well, I would not have hesitated to say yes. And I wouldn’t be here today, on this blog, writing to you about this.
But, the thing is, I already knew how I was going to respond, even before he finished asking. I hadn’t even blinked before saying, “No thanks.” I had been offered the best deal that I could ever imagine, yet I still said “no.” Thinking back on this inspires me, as it is a moment that reminds me that, in my heart, I was always meant to be an entrepreneur. It’s what I always wanted, even if I didn’t realize it. It is my defining moment.
When I politely declined the offer from my former boss, he was very surprised and for good reason. He had no idea that I had started a business in the LEED space, so I told him about the website, how well it was doing, and he was very impressed. His positive reaction was further proof that I was doing what I needed to be doing. And so my former boss wished me luck, said he was sorry that I wasn't able to join him, and the rest is history.
Now, for some of us, we have yet to arrive at that defining moment, the moment that we can always think back to that defines who we are as entrepreneurs. For some of us, we've already passed that moment, but we haven't defined it yet. For me, I keep thinking back to my moment, to that phone call with my former boss, to the best “no” of my entire life. It’s what keeps me going. This defining moment is what inspires me to push forward when times are tough, and reminds me why I’m here writing to you.
Maybe your defining moment came at the time you hadn't even made any money from the business that you wanted to start. Maybe you hadn't started a business yet but there was something inside of you, an experience or a moment or an event, that inspired you to become an entrepreneur. Others, you might not have arrived at that moment yet, but I want you to keep your eyes open for it. Take chances, follow your heart, be bold. The more you do, the greater chance of finding your defining moment as an entrepreneur.
When that moment comes for you, and I know it will, please come back to this blog post and share that with the rest of the community. Your amazing entrepreneurial journeys are what makes it all so sweet and impactful for the rest of us. So, please share. Your defining moments are worth sharing because they’ve defined who you are as an entrepreneur, and they will serve to inspire us as a community of entrepreneurs.
Thank you, and I appreciate you!