My first 90 Days… on my own. It was a combination of letting go of what I knew for sure, and embracing the rollercoaster ride of the unknown.

There was certainly an adjustment to going out on my own, and walking away from the security and support of employees, peers and managers, as well as the readily available systems, processes, fellow experts and financial resources of a corporation. But, it was the letting go of the structure, formality and regimen of corporate America versus that of entrepreneurs that took me by surprise.

Pretty much on day one, having already decided on the perfect corporate-like business name I would use, The Boas Group, I raced to the most expensive graphic artist to design me the most polished business cards, tri-folder folders, presentation materials and website. So much so, that in the 30 days I plopped down (expense) thousands of dollars in services and materials. After all, I wanted look, smell and reflect the polish of a corporation – despite being a solopreneur or not having a dime of revenue to offset it. It is all I knew.

With my beautiful materials in hand, I set out for my first sales meeting, and was dumbfounded when it was scheduled in the middle of the day at a noisy Starbucks. I felt out of place in my structured black suit, white blouse and black patent high heels, compared to the comfortable jeans and starch shirt of the male entrepreneur sitting across the table from me.

Then, I looked around the busy coffee shop and questioned what all of the people; dressed in suits, dresses, jeans and sweatpants, in clusters of two, four, or five, laptops open and heads down, were doing here in the middle of the day. As if the world did not go on outside the walls of my corporate office building. He chuckled and said, “You have to lighten up, they’re doing business just as we are.”

My first thought was – I had spent twenty-five years of my career in a vacuum, never giving thought to the fact that skills and expertise, ambitions and success were exercised anywhere other than corporate America. But there I was, surrounded by women and men, young and seasoned, creating and building their very own career, success and legacy. What I loved even more was; they were doing it just fine in blue jeans and t-shirts with less involved business cards and presentation materials. I was soon off to Banana Republic…. only kidding.

Similar ah-ha moments continued as I forged my way on my own, letting go of the thoughts, beliefs, ideas, stero-types, biases, behaviors, habits and attitudes (oh, did I have attitude), about a corporate career or entrepreneurial one.

What did it teach me? It taught me to let go of:

  • The attitude that career success and riches can only be achieved by working under the safety net of someone’s business, and in the great halls of corporate – in a black suit, starched blouse and heels.
  • Of the formalities and expectations of what it means to be a polished executive, and realize it is one’s internal compass which makes a leader and successful business person. It is not what you wear, the logo on your business card, or which font in your materials you use.
  • Comfort of having someone resources, systems and monies readily available versus acquiring the revenue and profit which will allow one to create, acquire and invest in what is needed for a successful business.

It also taught me that there are aspects of my corporate upbringing, I wanted to hold onto:

  • The professional and polished persona who shows up on time, follows up and through with all interactions, and maintains the practices and processes that provides organization and structure.
  • The planning, preparation and presentation of one’s self, and their business, in the utmost professional way. Side note – my father always taught me – it is better to be overdressed as you will always be welcome, then to be underdressed and have the door closed on you.
  • The ‘what are you going to do for me today’ approach to delivering the best product, service and leadership to your customers, employees and business, and delivering the greatest results possible, over and above their expectations.

I have let go of so many things since going out on my own; including the formal, polished and uptight business name, The Boas Group. It never ever felt right for me. A year after my #First90 days, it was updated to reflect the person, woman and leader I was – Ball of Fire Inc.

That #First90 provided me the validation I can succeed without many of the things I had before, and with all of the unknowns of being on one’s own. It has been exhilarating, exciting, challenging and scary letting go, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Image from strategyjoy.com

Bernadette Boas is the ball of fire behind Ball of Fire Consulting, a strategy, business management and leadership development consulting practice, and Ball of Fire Media. (media/publishing). Bernadette is a business growth and leadership consultant, trainer, speaker, radio personality of Shedding the Bitch Radio, and author of her first book Shedding the Corporate Bitch, Shifting Bitches to Riches in Life and Business. Her focus is on igniting leadership in individuals, businesses and their company cultures to one of RICHness and profit.