3 Years and 5 Reasons Why I Almost Gave Up on Entrepreneurship But Did Not
Happy Anniversary to me!
When FedEx announced they would be offering buyout packages and employees who had been with the company for over six years were eligible. I knew it was time for me to leave. It was a sign.
Almost immediately after publishing my first book, I felt this huge tug to leave my amazing job with more flexibility and a better salary than I’d ever had.
Yes. I had no idea that sharing my story would lead me to my calling. My life’s purpose. I went to work everyday to a job and company that I truly loved, but my mind was fixated on finding more ways to help more people. Especially youth, say, “S.O. What!” to eliminate excuses and overcome obstacles in their lives.
But in a sense, I had on those golden handcuffs.
I was financially stable. VERY stable. I even got a promotion and a financial award when I was contemplating leaving. But with every school that called me to speak and every event that took me out of town (with me counting my vacation days to figure out how to make it work), I knew I had to go. The only question was when.
So when the buyout offer came, I prayed…and prayed…then decided I had to try so I signed up for my shot to get a buyout package. After all the discussion with co-workers about the buyout and figuring that I could survive at least one year on my payout, I felt comfortable with my decision.
But the day we got notification of who would receive the packages, I had a hard decision to make.
“YOU ARE NOT GETTING THE MONEY”.
Well, that’s not exactly what the email said, but that’s what I read. After more prayer and deliberation, I decided…
It was still time to go.
If you read my last blog, then you know the deal with my birthday. So I decided it would be nice to make that the anniversary of my corporate departure and beginning of my full-time entrepreneurial journey. But my manager asked me to stay until June 5th so I did.
So today is my third anniversary.
The anniversary of me not having to go to work (a workplace) every day. The anniversary of me doing exactly what I choose to do every day. The anniversary of me working my butt off for myself. The anniversary of me getting up when I want to every day (because I’ve been up working all night). The anniversary of a huge transition in my life.
But it is also the anniversary of me losing my regular (let me add, great, paycheck).
The anniversary of me losing my (great) benefits. Although no job is guaranteed, I was very comfortable and secure so it was also the anniversary of me losing my safety net and a job I really enjoyed.
Ignore the politics of this cartoon and follow my message…safety net is gone.
So I began to embrace this and accepted…yes, I’m real now.
And, to be honest, a little scared.
But when I left on that day three years ago, I had a nice savings account, a semi-plan, and a lot of potential. I was way more excited than I was afraid.
In the three years since, I’ve remained excited and amazed by how God has sustained me.
However, I have also been scared a few times. Okay, way more than a few times, but somehow I’ve had indescribable peace.
Have I considered quitting my “job” as an entrepreneur and returning to corporate? Yes.
1. Lack of support.
Before making the decision to leave my job, I got commitments of support from several people who guaranteed that they could help me secure speaking engagements and sell my programs. Lots of people cheered my decision to step out on faith but then wouldn’t even like or share my social media posts or read my blogs to help me spread my message and secure business. I dealt with huge disappointment, even hurt, from my expectations of support from certain people. When you throw away your safety net, you need your friends and family- your network- more than ever. Many friends and family have been supportive though, thankfully. And amazingly, I have gotten unbelievable support from so many others. Strangers became fans and even friends and have helped me to stay afloat and remember my “Why?”.
2. Lack of money.
When I left my job, I had a NICE savings account. I knew that even if I didn’t make any money on my business for six months, I’d be fine. Well…I think someone must have been stealing money from my bank accounts because it disappeared fast! And with the lack of support (and #3), I was not replacing it as fast it was leaving me. I quickly reverted to the lessons I teach others and the tactics I used throughout my lean paycheck years early in my career. I have not missed a beat although I’ve had to make some major adjustments and even change my mindset towards credit…business credit.
3. Lack of focus.
As I started my businesses, I discovered a beautiful problem. There were SO many opportunities. I had been contacted by many different types of organizations – schools, high schools, clinics, churches, youth organizations, speakers bureaus, and many more. I saw great ways to offer myself, my services and my products to each of them. And awesome revenue potential too. Each day it seemed the focus changed based on who emailed or called or the big idea I had for the day. I am finally beginning to let some of my great ideas wait on their turn to surface. I’m even learning to say “no” or “not now” to make sure I remain focused on what I have decided is the top business priority.
4. Too many priorities.
In addition to everything stated in #3, I had the nerve to start TWO businesses. I have a BBA and even an MBA, but I never thought I’d be an entrepreneur- an entrepreneur with an LLC and a 501(c)(3). Neither of which I know exactly how to operate. The for profit business sort of just happened once I released my book, but as I learn the growth potential for my speaking business I’m learning more and more of what I need to learn.
Because of the huge need for youth empowerment programs.
I was urged to start the nonprofit and take advantage of grant funding to help me make the impact I want to make on the lives of youth. And every day I’m learning more and more of what I need to learn. And, back to #1 and #2, support and revenue/funding has not been as readily available as expected. Did I mention that I am operations, marketing, accounting/finance, fundraising, administration, development…However, back to #3, I am streamlining the focus for both organizations to make them more manageable as I grow and get that consistent, needed support that I know is coming. Oh, and also the money to pay for that support.
5. Great job offers.
In the midst of all of the above, something happened that had never happened to me before. Over a five month period, I received three job offers. Jobs I had not even applied for. Because I needed the money, I did consider each of them and knew that I would be great at them. Ultimately though, I knew that taking either of them would slow down my progress with S.O. What! and that I had already given up the most flexible job of all of them.
So it has been an interesting, scary, and amazing three years.
Not much has gone as expected, but even the “bad” things have been great lessons. And there have been so many amazing milestones and connections including the first semester of the Life Skills class I was asked to create at the University of Memphis based on my platform. I still have all of the “things” I had when I began this journey, and I have some new things too. I have a huge sense of accomplishment because of the great things I have already created and developed for both businesses.
I have confidence that I am living my purpose and changing lives because of the emails and posts I get confirming that I’m making a difference.
And I have huge expectations as I watch all the seeds I’ve been planting start to bear amazing fruit! Oh, and one more thing that I don’t have is regret. No regret for leaving corporate America. And I will never have to live with the regret of not trying to follow my dreams!
What are your dreams? What is keeping you from following them or what is making you consider giving up?
I’m Summer Owens, and my passion is helping youth and young adults realize success no matter what obstacles they face. As an international resilience and leadership keynote speaker, author, S.O. What! Success Coach, and creator of the S.O. What! Literacy, Life Skills, and Character Education curriculum, I empower people to say, “So what!” to even their greatest challenges. provide a framework to help people see past their challenges and focus on solutions using the S.O. What! Success System (Overcome Obstacles + Eliminate Excuses + Calculate Choices = S.O. What! Success). Through keynotes, workshops, books, online courses, and workbooks, I use life’s challenges and my own story of resilience as a rape survivor and teen mom success story to help others confidently pursue their dreams.
Looking for an inspiring college motivational speaker? A high school literacy curriculum? A middle school life skills workbook? A great example for teen mothers? A women’s empowerment or single mother’s conference speaker? I’m your girl and will help any audience say, “S.O. What!”.
Beautiful Testimony! I Thank Jesus for your encouraging words. I’m an entrepreneur also and I can relate. GOD BLESS YOU