My Big Break (And The Identity Shift Behind it)
My first year of entrepreneurship has been a tough road. But thankfully, I found the strength to "push the car". Now, others are joining in to help me—and they're bringing reinforcements.
It’s gain time.
After a year of freelancing, consulting, and getting the lay of “online course land”, I’m excited to share a big breakthrough.
But before I do, I should preface that it didn’t come easily. The past thirteen months went fast but the hours I’ve dedicated have been long. I’ve loved the challenge, the learning, and the adventure. But I don’t want to disillusion anyone into thinking quitting your job to become a full-time creator is anything short of physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing.
Social media skews the reality of what it means to bet on yourself. Sure, it’s rewarding. I wouldn’t be doing it otherwise. But the tradeoff is temporary discomfort—like not always knowing where your next paycheque is coming from—in hopes of long-term gains.
I have no shame in sharing that I’ve felt anxious, stressed, frustrated, and confused at various points in the past year—or hell, even sometimes all in one day. But the good days have outweighed the bad days by a landslide and that’s why I’m compelled to keep going.
Now, onto my big break.
My Big Break
Last night I got the call I was accepted into Quebec’s Self-Employment Program. That means for the next year, I’ll benefit from entrepreneurship coaching and a monthly grant to help me build my business.
I’m beyond happy and grateful.
What’s wild is it never occurred to me that I would qualify for this type of support. But I ran into a founder I’d crossed paths with in my former job at District 3 startup hub, and she told me I should apply.
“That’s how many founders in Montreal maintain a stable paycheque while building their business.”
I had no idea. And even then, I wasn’t sure I would qualify since I don’t consider myself a ‘startup’ given I’m not building a team anytime soon—maybe not ever, and I’m not raising money. I’m simply investing my time and money into my work. But I figured what the hell. Why not at least try?
So I did. And after four weeks, three rounds of vetting, and a bunch of paperwork, I made my final pitch to the selection committee at 9 a.m. yesterday morning.
I spent most of yesterday reflecting on how my pitch went. I replayed how one of the committee members asked me to “please keep my answers short” so everyone would have time to question me.
Ironically, during my time at District 3, I’d seen startup coaches say the same to founders when they rambled with their answers. I swore I wouldn’t make the same mistake. But thinking is not the same as practicing—hence why I’m an advocate for hands-on courses—so I’ll need to practice being more concise.
Here are three more lessons I took away:
Being grilled by veteran entrepreneurs who ask good questions, is a great opportunity to clarify my thinking about my business. Whether I’m articulating an answer I already have or writing the question down to be answered in due course, it’s an opportunity to address gaps.
I have more credibility than I give myself credit for. The committee specified my expertise as a huge selling point. Specifically, my online studies in Learning Design and Tech at Harvard Extension, working at District 3, and with big industry players like Maven and Write of Passage. Not to mention I’m a certified project manager with international experience spanning four countries and two languages.
It feels really good to be playing a long-term game where I get to be the star player, the coach, the fan, and the referee. When one of the committee members explained the different challenges I’ll be faced with in the next year versus the one after that, I was hit with a wave of gratitude. The fact that successful entrepreneurs believe in my dream of building a top-tier online course business—and are willing to give me money to do it—emboldened my belief. It’s happening.
This quote from comedian Chris Rock sums up how I feel about the support I’m getting:
Like I said, my first year of entrepreneurship has been a tough road. But I’m grateful I found the strength to “push the car”. And even more so that people are joining in to help me.
I read a lot. I have since I was a kid. But it’s rare for a book to blow my mind to the extent James Clear’s Atomic Habits did.
Clear’s concept of “identity-based habits” changed my life over the past eighteen months. Here’s how it works: let’s say you’re a smoker. Gasp, I know—so unhealthy and unheard of in this day and age. (The good news is you’re trying to quit.)
Now, imagine responding to someone offering you a cigarette in one of two ways:
“No thanks, I’m trying to quit.”
“No thanks, I don’t smoke.”
Take a moment to reflect on the difference.
In the first scenario, you’re telling yourself, “I’m resisting something.” In the second scenario, you’re telling yourself, “I’m declining an irrelevant offer.” The latter is effortless, while the former requires restraint.
The point is the more you assert an identity, the easier it becomes to act accordingly.
Take me for example. Until recently, I was timid about referring to myself as an entrepreneur. After many years of aspiring to quit my job and become an entrepreneur, it sometimes feels surreal that I’m finally doing it. But I am.
I’m an entrepreneur now. And by recognizing that, I’m emboldened to act like one.
My question to you is, what identity are you yearning to step into, and what are you going to do about it?
My Upcoming Workshops
On Monday, I piloted my newest workshop, Create an Outline For an Online Workshop.
Every time I run a workshop for the first time, I’m flooded with mental notes about what I could’ve done better. But then I get positive feedback within minutes of finishing and remember I’m giving people value regardless.
I’m a big advocate for running workshops prior to building a course. It’s a great way to test and refine your content—not to mention build up your confidence. Think of it as giving people a taste test before catering an event. You’ll be able to incorporate specific feedback and data points to better satisfy expectations from your course.
You can even pilot a workshop series to test several ideas in a single sprint. With that in mind, my next workshop is Create an Outline For an Online Workshop Series on Monday, October 24 from 12pm-1pm EDT. Description below:
Register ASAP and share the link with your friends.
That’s all for today. Thank you for reading.
If you enjoyed this week’s edition, please like, comment, or share this post with friends. It would help me tremendously in expanding my reach.
Wishing you a wonder-full week,
P.S. I hope you find the strength to push whatever car you’re struggling to drive at the moment. You never know who might hop out to help.
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