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Making The Leap: From Employee To Entrepreneur

A Personal Story by Suzanne Mulvehill, Author Employee to Entrepreneur I was so intent on staying in the corporate world that I went back to school in 1993 to get an MBA degree. Two years later, I received that degree and got a job making more money than ever before. I thought I had it all. The problem was that I wasn’t fulfilled. While trying to convince myself that I really was happy with my job, I had a disturbing intuitive message one day that what I was doing wasn’t “it.” I realized that I had a yearning to be or do something else.

I just had no idea what. For two years, I vacillated from feeling content with the security of my job to feeling unfulfilled. Sometime around the third year, I gave in to this yearning. I began an idea journal – listing ideas of what kind of business I might like to start and spent time thinking about being my own boss. This exploration stage came to an abrupt halt when I had an experience at work that left me feeling betrayed.

I was given a job to manage a sales team and it was taken away because I didn’t pass a test. I worked with this boss for 2.5 years at two different companies, and knew he knew me better than the answers to a test. I was so angry that I gave my notice the following day. I stood up for myself, for maybe the first time in my professional career. Once the anger wore off, fear set in immediately. I was petrified. I realized that in two weeks I was not going to have a paycheck anymore. Paychecks were like lifelines for me. Here I was raising two kids alone.

The thoughts and feelings about being paycheckless and becoming a baglady were overwhelming. I was so scared that after two days of feeling sick to my stomach and feeling more fear than I thought I could handle, I succumbed to my fear and accepted my job back. I was given a sales position at a new location. I was relieved. Once the relief wore off, however, the yearning persisted. I realized I was right back where I started. Stuck in a job I didn’t want. I felt trapped and didn’t know how to escape. I thought that the next time I quit I’m going to be prepared. So I attended business start-up seminars.

I learned two things from these seminars - that I need to save money and write a business plan. I was on a mission now. I moonlighted figuring out what business to start and writing a business plan while working full-time, running a household, raising two kids and saving money. I decided to start a magazine. I worked in the publishing industry for years and liked the industry. Five months after the first failed attempt to leave my job, I met my boss and gave my notice a second time. I left that meeting feeling completely deflated as he shared that I needed a million dollars in capital to start this business and said without words that I was an idiot for even considering starting such a business. My newly hatched idea had been completely crushed and I again didn’t leave my job. I was depressed and my emotions whipsawed me around – hating my job and doing it anyway because I couldn’t leave. That time I planned and tried and still couldn’t leave.

In a moment of humility and desperation, I asked myself, “What do I need to do?” I got an answer. I needed to change and grow. I realized that everything I had done to prepare myself for this transition was outside of me. I had done nothing to address and release my fears, to develop confidence and ultimately, to face the unknown. So this time, I got busy on me. I started an inner journey. I looked at my fears and developed “what if” scenarios that I could live with. I started doing something different every day, to get used to change. I asked for spiritual direction and meditated daily.


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