Like everyone else, I did my taxes last month and could hardly believe my eyes when I submitted the paperwork to the IRS.
I earned $60,000 in revenue in 2010, my first year of business for myself.
Of course, $60,000 certainly doesn’t make me rich (hello, expenses!), but the significance of this number, for me, is that it’s pretty much the same amount I was making as an annual salary in my previous full-time job.
Rewind back to January of last year. When I first quit my job, I was totally excited, but I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t also scared. The fear and the lizard brain were there the whole time, even as I began to build my business, work with coaching clients, get speaking gigs and create my own training programs.
Most of the time, I didn’t know exactly what I was doing, or exactly what the outcome of my efforts would be, but I kept going anyway. Which is how I ended up here today, having proven to myself that it’s absolutely possible to have a different life if you’re willing to work for it.
How to Become the CEO of You
A lot of Happy Black Women often comment here on the blog about their goal to leave their job and work for themselves. Many are in the process of doing so right now! If that’s you, I’d like to continue to offer encouragement and link you to tools that might help you in your journey. I know how discouraging it can be to struggle making $10,000 a year on your own, let alone the equivalent of a full-time income. But the first thing you need to know is that “the economy” has nothing to do with you. People are still buying products and services (and they always will). Your job is just to make sure they buy from YOU. So don’t blame “the economy” on why you can’t get your business off the ground. It’s a weak excuse, and I know you’re better than that. To get started, you may want to read my How to Start a Side Hustle blog post series.
The second thing you should know is that blogging and social media are responsible for 99.9% of the leads I get in my business. Without my online presence, I would have NO business. Seriously. If you don’t have a professional blog yet, download my FREE ebook, The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Blog. Geared toward newbie bloggers, this easy-to-read guide will take you from soup to nuts in terms of your blog concept, software, design, content, promotion and analytics. Longtime bloggers will also benefit from the marketing angle of the ebook which outlines how to build your personal brand online through blogging.
How I Make Money in My Business
I operate as a sole practitioner in my business, which is based in Washington, DC (though I can “work” from anywhere). My clients and customers are mostly women – young professionals, nonprofit leaders and small business owners.
Here are all of my income streams (in order of financial significance):
- Consulting services
- Speaking fees
- Part-time teaching as an adjunct professor
- Book sales (I have 2 books for sale)
- Affiliate marketing through my blogs (I have 3 blogs)
- Career, business and personal development coaching
- Online training programs
As you can see, I have a VERY diverse range of income streams, which together averaged $5,000 a month for my first year of working for myself. This year, I’ve been working to streamline my income to eliminate consulting and teaching, because they require a lot more time than the others and make me feel like I’m working a 9 to 5. My goal is location independence with my business so that I can travel and spend more time with my family.
But you know what the funny thing is? A year ago, I wouldn’t have believed I’d be this close to reaching that goal so soon. Last month, I got to go to Cincinnati for a speaking gig during the same week that my grandmother was having surgery. I had the opportunity to get paid as well as spend a few days with her in Ohio. I took my laptop so I could work when I had to, which wasn’t much. This is the life I had envisioned for myself last year. What started out as a side hustle has become a fulfilling business and career that both sustains me and allows me an enormous amount of freedom over my time.
Yes, it’s hard, but it’s actually not that hard. Not harder than working for someone your whole life just to “retire” and have fun, relaxation and wealth when you’re 65. That life is NOT for me. It never was. This is how to have a different life: Confess your big dream. Take the first step. Commit yourself fully. Distance yourself from negative people. Ignore the economy. Get training. Work hard. There really isn’t one magic formula other people have that you don’t. A different life is available to you if you want it.
Post your responses to the following questions in the comments:
- What does your “different life” look like?
- What’s the first step you need to take to become the CEO of you?