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From 9-5er to Entrepreneur: The 10 Lessons I've Learned Along the Way

From 9-5er to Entrepreneur: The 10 Lessons I've Learned Along the Way

I come from a family of entrepreneurs and grew up with so many side gigs it’s hard to remember. From the days selling friendship bracelets to the summers mowing lawns and pet sitting, it’s no surprise my path led me to Babson College, hailed as the top undergraduate school for entrepreneurship by U.S. News & World Report and Entrepreneur Magazine and the top MBA program in entrepreneurship by U.S. News & World Report.

Even with my early street cred and solid academic foundation, my sights were set on the traditional path of employment after graduation. After a double major in Finance & IT, I wanted to secure a job on Wall Street, rock the power suits, convince myself I’m a city girl and live happily ever after. I got the job in finance — it was love at first sight but we grew apart and I broke things off two years later. I fell in love with coaching, headed back to school to Social-Organizational Psychology (polar opposite of Finance and IT), started my business and spread my wings in the field of learning and development.

[Related: Ellevate Keys to Success: 8 Steps to Starting Your Own Business]

I recently celebrated my four year business anniversary. For three of these years I was juggling full-time roles at Fortune 500 and international organizations. What have I learned along the journey?

1. It is completely possible to manage a full-time role and a side-hustle, but if you want full-time results you must go all in.

2. Transparency is your friend. Be open with your colleagues about your extracurricular interests. It may open doors you never considered!

3. No matter how disciplined you are, walking away from a formal structure and schedule will be tough. Make sure to set an alarm.

4. In starting a new business you want to do it all, but after a while, for the sake of your success and your sanity, pick your battles.

5. Many days you'll lose track of time because you're lost in the flow. The good stuff… yeah, that’s why you made this leap.

6. Some days you'll wonder, "What the hell am I doing?," second guess every life decision you’ve made, and realize how easy you had it back in your corporate job.

7. Patience. You must have patience. Every massive idea you want to create cannot be built today, within a week, or even a month.

8. Running a business means getting comfortable with sales.

9. No matter how much you like working from home or how introverted you are, you’ll miss your colleagues & it will get lonely.

10. If you keep asking yourself “Why am I waiting?” stop waiting and take the leap.

The most important lesson I’ve learned along the journey is to trust my intuition, whether it’s not overthinking and jumping at an opportunity or changing directions when something doesn’t feel right. Because life is too short to wait and to live each day feeling icky, which is why I focus my practice on supporting leaders & entrepreneurs prevent professional and lifestyle burnout and help balance the over-achiever in all of us.

Now I want to hear from you! What has your journey to entrepreneurship looked like? If you haven’t made the leap, what’s holding you back?


Lizabeth Czepiel is the Executive Coach and Leadership Development Consultant at Lizabeth Czepiel, LLC. Visit her website to hear more about her journey and how she's dedicating her career to help other leaders deepen their self-trust and intuition.

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.