Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker & Executive Presentation Coach - America's Marketing Motivator

Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker &
Executive Presentation Coach
Let's Talk. 860-371-8801 or Email me
Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker & Executive Presentation Coach - America's Marketing Motivator
Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker & Executive Presentation Coach - America's Marketing Motivator

Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker &
Executive Presentation Coach
Let's Talk. 860-371-8801 or Email me
Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker & Executive Presentation Coach - America's Marketing Motivator
Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker & Executive Presentation Coach
Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker & Executive Presentation Coach
Let's Talk. 860-371-8801 or Email me

Moving away from corporate life to entrepreneurship

Today I am celebrating seven years as an entrepreneur. It was seven years ago today that I drove to Hartford to register my new business entity as a limited liability company in the state of Connecticut. I remember that day as if it were yesterday. It was one of the best career moves that I ever made. After twenty years in Corporate America, I successfully re-invented myself as an entrepreneur.

Perhaps this is something that you’ve been contemplating?

Watch this video of a TV interview with me and Jim Pellegrino and read the article below to see if you’ve got what it takes to make it as a solopreneur (company of one) or entrepreneurial (builder of new businesses):

Benefits that I’ve enjoyed living the entrepreneurial lifestyle

It’s always a trade off: one set of benefits for another. But I have to say that the benefits I’ve experienced in building and running my own business have been truly enriching and meaningful to me and my family. Here’s a short list of what I appreciate about being an entrepreneur:

  1. Flexibility. You make your own hours and have the luxury of working from home if you like. No long commutes or wasted time in the car. If you need to be home at 2:00pm to let the electrician in the house, you can do that without asking anyone’s permission. If you want to exercise in the morning and start your work day at 9:30am, you can do that without infuriating your boss or jeopardizing your job. I have found more work/life balance since becoming an entrepreneur.
  2. Choice. You decide who you want to work with and whom you’d rather avoid. You hire and fire your clients,vendors and strategic partners. Nothing and no one is forced upon you. You choose who you want to associate with.
  3. Fewer boring meetings. My day is not booked solid with obligatory meetings. I now look forward to meeting with clients, prospects and networking contacts where we exchange valuable information and no one is wasting anyone’s time. So much corporate profitability and life force is lost in meeting hell. As an entrepreneur, YOU control your own calendar.
  4. Valuation. You decide what you are going to charge for your products and services. While you need to be market competitive, you set your own rate card. You determine your own salary and professional fees. If you want to be a premium player, go for it. Just make sure that your customer experience and brand delivers on that promise of premium.
  5. Play to Your Strengths. In every “job” there are tasks and responsibilities that you do well and those that you dread. Working for someone else, you just hope that you get more of what you like and do well. As an entrepreneur, you have the choice to outsource the crap – that is, the jobs and tasks that you have no talent or tolerance for, like bookkeeping, administration, graphic design, etc.(no disrespect to bookkeepers, virtual assistants or graphic designers – I NEED YOU!) Of course, there is a strong urge as an entrepreneur to do everything yourself. I believe this is driven from a mind set of “I don’t have a lot of money to hire someone, so I better do it all myself.” This is a mistake. Outsource as much as you can, but keep control and oversight of all marketing and financial aspects of your business.

What you need to be successful as an entrepreneur?

Before you quit your corporate job, take a review of the next section of the internal and external stuff you need to have in place prior to crossing over to the entrepreneurial side.

Internal Stuff:

  • Spirit of innovation. You must be able to see and think of new ideas that haven’t been done before. Innovation doesn’t have been something magical or dramatic; it can be the small enhancements that make people’s lives better. Get creative and innovate something.
  • Stomach for uncertainty. You must be willing to live without the luxury of regular paychecks and unlimited office supplies. You have to put in the time and effort to “prime the pump” and be patient and persistent in your new business development efforts. They will pay off, it’s only a matter of time.
  • Appetite and willingness to risk failure. Your success is anything but guaranteed. You will inevitably fail at something during your entrepreneurial journey. You will learn the most from your failures. You must be willing and able to get up after you fall.
  • Unshakable belief in yourself. People will poo-poo all over you as you embark on what appears to be a risky venture. These nay sayers may even be people in your immediate family. You must have confidence in yourself and a willingness to invest in your dream. At the end of your life, you’ll only regret the things you didn’t have the courage to do.
  • Your “why.” You must have a powerful, motivating reason why you want to do this. Connecting with your ‘why’ will help to sustain you during the difficult phases of running your own business.

External Stuff:

  • Written business plan explaining to someone else (like a banker) how you plan to make money. . It’s not good enough to have it all in your head. Get it down on paper. Be disciplined and do the strategic work upfront.
  • Marketing plan(a subset of your business plan). Who you will serve (your customers). How you will commercialize your idea. How you will go to market with your goods and services. Establishment of your brand. How you will leverage social media to build awareness and create ‘fans.’
  • Exit strategy outlining how you plan to get in, do well and then get out (and move on to your next adventure). Can you sell your business in the future? To whom and for how much? What assets do you plan to create to enhance your business’s future valuation?
  • Money. How you will fund the launch of your business? How much money will you need to sustain yourself (pay your living expenses) while also investing in the business? How long can you live without a paycheck? Will you need access to capital (loans, external investors?) If so, where/who/how?
  • People and connections. Who will help you get your business off the ground. Advisors to help guide you and get critical feedback on your strategize and plans. You might want to consider forming an advisory board for your entrepreneurial business.
  • Knowledge. I encourage you to “go to school” on entrepreneurship before you hang out your shingle. Read as many books on the subject as you can. I highly recommend the E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. Consider enrolling in an entrepreneur certificate program at a local university or community college. I have been a guest lecturer at the University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center. You may have a great idea that the world needs, but you’ll need to know a lot more than that to be successful as an enterpreneur.

The lessons of the past still apply

Below are the top 10 lessons that I shared out with my clients when I celebrated my 3rd anniversary in business in 2008 (just before the recession took hold). I thought a little review would do me good. After looking at this list, I can see that the advice I gave myself 4 years ago still applies today. These tips may give you a little head start as you consider diverting your corporate career path towards entrepreneurship and business ownership.

  1. Turn your business inward.
  2. Focus and specialize.
  3. It’s good to let go.
  4. Everyone has something to teach you.
  5. Spend time with motivated people.
  6. There are easier ways to make money.
  7. Ask and you shall receive.
  8. If it creates value, charge for it.
  9. You can’t get there alone.
  10. Invest in yourself

The road ahead

Sometimes I think about returning to Corporate America. I fantasize about the health insurance benefits and the biweekly paycheck that seems to come automatically. I long for the international travel and being paid to learn on the job. I miss the office parties and the free coffee. Someday I may go back to a “regular job.” I don’t allow myself to use the word ‘never.” I always want to remain open to all the possibilities that the future might hold for me. For now, I am committed to continue building and operating my business – Kmc Brand Innovation, LLC. And since I just received a shipment of 2,500 new business cards, I guess I am committed to this venture for the foreseeable future.


About the writer: Kathy McAfee is known as America’s Marketing Motivator and is author of the book Networking Ahead for Business. She is the sole owner of Kmc Brand Innovation, LLC, a training, coaching and speaking company that works with organizations and business professionals that want to take their talent to the next level. In her role as executive presentation coach and professional speaker, Kathy helps her clients to become the recognized leaders in their fields by mastering the art of high engagement presentations, more effective networking and personal marketing. Learn more about Kathy



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