The decision to leave a ‘corporate’ profession didn’t happen over night. It took months and months of ‘Am I ready. No? Okay.’ ‘Am I ready. Nope. Okay.’ ‘Am I ready? yes. time to start planning.’ Finally it was ‘I am ready. time to move forward.’ The want was never much of a question, since I have wanted to start my own business since I was young. Even when I was studying architecture I would draw plans for shoe stores, coffee shops, surf shops and coffee/surf shops; however, the desire of being an entrepreneur was shelved as a ‘dream’ and covered with doubts, fears and disbelief. Uncovering it took a lot of work, which I was perfectly fine not doing, until I applied for grad school in 2011 and had to address my long terms goals. I wanted to be authentic in my application and really take the opportunity to step back an assess where I had been, where I was, and where I wanted to go, but the question of where I wanted to go – *really* wanted to go – was difficult to answer. I could stick with a safe answer or dig into the real answer.
While researching some professors I came across a book titled, ‘A Goal is a Dream with a Deadline.’ The quote in the title stuck with me and brought confirmation that dreams could be a goal and thus a reality, but the willingness to make my dreams goals continued to hang on a safety shelf, covered in the doubts, fears and disbelief. I ended up stating in the application essay that my dream of starting a company is an achievable goal and focused on short term. Hi, my name is Caitlin and I have dreams, but I don’t want to talk about them.
The process of applying to grad school opened up something that couldn’t be closed though. I continued to wrestle with what I really wanted to achieve. It was incredibly frustrating that I couldn’t just own it and go for it, but I was able to begin working through all the layers holding me back. One day (3/27/2012 – I happen to journal) I finally said, yep, I am going to own a business. I’m not sure when, but it is going to happen. And I actually believed it. I went home for Easter and told my brother. When I got back from Italy over the summer I registered the business I wanted to pursue. By Thanksgiving I was starting to flesh it out. From there is was just finding the right timing to step away from a job that had provided incredible opportunities for me to grow as a strategic thinker and capable doer.
On March 1, 2013 I had my exit interview from ‘corporate.’ I then started working full time on two ideas: a single item delivery service and a photo editing app. I figured I would at least learn a lot from developing and growing them, if not build them into something sustainable.
I told my mom my ‘junior’ year of college that I finally knew what I was – an entrepreneur. I will never forget the conversation walking through campus, mostly because my mom jokingly asked me if I knew how to spell it. It was a journey to come back around, but it is time to live it.