I am five months into an accounting contract. I originally only planned to be there three months. The company extended the contract due to internal turnover. So, at this point, they still have a need for me. I’ve been asked more than once to come on as a full-time employee and every time I decline the offer. Although I think it’s a great company, I cannot with a clear conscious commit to fulltime employment. Here is why
- I am not ready to go back into employee mode at this juncture. I’ve spent sixteen years as an employee, so I know intimately what that life is like. That is not to diminish the experiences, knowledge or accomplishments I had as an employee. Everything I learned in that format I use daily as an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is a new challenge and I am still learning how to navigate its terrain. I have acquired so many new skills and even tapped into parts of myself that I didn’t know existed.
- I feel more freedom to create the type of work that is both empowering for myself and others. While accounting has provided a lot from a financial standpoint, it has rarely been the career that has made me jump out of bed with excitement. It is practical, logical and analytical. As an accountant you rarely get to live outside of the lines of that structure, however, as a consultant, you have more freedom to suggest and create. There are day to day task that must take place but there is also a space for new ideas and new ways of doing things. Consultants tend fit in that space and to focus on more project-based work. Consultants attempt to find solutions to problems that either the daily task master don’t have time to resolve or are too close to the process to be innovative.
- I have a far greater plan than being a team of one. Let’s be honest after closing the books for that many years I can literally do it in my sleep at this point. What I am hoping to start creating from my sleep is a team of efficient and effective accountants who want to continue that legacy or create their own. I feel like my role has transitioned from bean counter to bean connector, meaning offering the opportunities for others to find and fulfill their own purpose. I feel like I would be more useful at cultivating these opportunities as an entrepreneur as opposed to a being a full-time employee. My goal is to have connections within both corporate and small business spheres to then refer these trainees and mentees too. It has been my experience with millennials that they are looking for something more than what currently exists. I also believe it is a part of my purpose to empower others so they can carry the torch.
- Flexibility is one of the other perks I enjoy as a consultant. While most people are pigeonholed into 2-4 weeks of vacation, as a consultant I can take off as much time as I want. I have always lived far away from family and friends. As I’ve gotten older I have become more attuned to getting reconnected with loved ones. This tugging is far more important than a paycheck. So a vacation schedule in alignment with my current life is more like 2-3 months. This concept is a hard sell to a boss who has not even made this an option for themselves. In most cases, the sentiment is that you must have a higher pay grade to demand that kind of work-life-balance. However, as a consultant, you learn how to creatively balance the concept of ‘if you don’t work, you don’t eat’. For me, that just involves demanding a higher pay rate and creating more cash reserves on the front end.
- I truly enjoy this adventure into the unknown. The truth is I don’t know what is going to happen next. I always feel like I am being lead spiritually so there is no need to know all the steps just yet. The mystery is somewhat of a balancing act. There are times when nervousness and uncertainty bring to the surface all my worse fears. There are other times when I hear or feel that people really see and connect with my vision. Those times confirm that I am headed in the right direction. Even in my failures, I am taking them as just an extra step needed to get the bigger picture. Almost like a rinse and repeat step just to make sure you got it.
- Finally, I am attempting to get two businesses off the ground at the same time. My first business is going into its third year but still requires my attention. It still requires branding, marketing, sponsorships and new connections. It’s in a good space but I am now struggling with figuring out how to transition from startup phase to expansion phase. The accounting business is a lot more profitable, so I must also focus on making connections to keep it that way. Also, to somewhat merge both lives I’ve started to think about how to create a financial wellness platform to form a creative new perspective at looking at your health and your finances. The two are tied and who better to speak on that relationship? I believe this will open the door to more speaking opportunities and of course more travel.
Needless to say, there is a lot going on at once in my world. Although there are moments when I am exhausted, I rarely feel spiritually drained and unhappy about what I am doing. Every day I wake up I feel more optimistic and closer to my long-term goals. I think I will always teeter between corporate and entrepreneurship, the two are so ingrained in my experience. The two questions I ask when I wake up each day are where do you want me to be and how can I empower others using my natural gifts and talents? I accept where that will lead me.
This weekend I had the opportunity to attend and speak at Creative Women’s Co first all-inclusive retreat in Chicago. This retreat was designed to allow women to step away from their busy schedule, recharge their creativity and enjoy quality conversations with like-minded creative women. This was a three-day action-packed event in the heart of downtown Chicago. The itinerary covered everything from self-care, stress management to gratitude and finding balance. It was held in an intimate space that supported creating new connections and potential future business collaborations amongst the group. Each woman brought their unique viewpoint and experience to the table. There was so much synchronicity in the room, that at times most women nodded in agreement as each experience resonating across the room.
This was my first time since college sharing a room with strangers. I am very picky about who I allow in my personal space especially since we can be subtly impacted by the words and actions of others. Although I wasn’t initially a fan of the idea, I decided to step out and go with the flow. I was pleasantly surprised to find how much I had in common with a young lady from France and another who’d recently moved back to Chicago from Portland Oregon. Although all three of us culturally came from different backgrounds, our stories crossed all boundaries that appeared to keep us separate. Spiritual connection supersedes race, culture and religious background. It moves beyond the limits most of us choose to live by. We sat up late at night after the activities for the day ended giggling and discussing entrepreneurship, careers, family, relationships, culture, and spirituality. Each one of us discussed openly this feeling of knowingness that most people couldn’t relate to. A knowingness that can be discovered by anyone willing to allow it in. My connection with these women was the highlight of my weekend.
Beyond that, I got a chance to share my expertise and experience with yoga and meditation. I discussed five ways to deal with the stress of working full-time and being an entrepreneur. I shared my real life experiences and then lead the audience through a series of yoga and meditation techniques they could use in their everyday lives. I discussed the importance of creating space in our schedule to prevent burnout and manage stress. The key to stress management is being aware of your stress triggers, staying attuned to your body language and using a variety of techniques to help you manage through the process.
I learned from this weekend that retreats are powerful ways to create change in your life. Retreats allow you to have a unique experience that only you and other participants can relate to. Retreats also foster curating lifelong bonds with people from a diverse set of backgrounds. Retreats only require that you appear with an open mind.
Peace and Blessings!
Majority of my focus last year was on building my wellness business, I decided to shift gears in the fourth quarter to dip my foot back into the accounting world. Actually, once I made up my mind that I would be leaving my corporate job, I immediately created Luellen Consulting Services LLC which of course provides accounting services. I made this decision for several reasons a) I have an amazing skill set and a wide range of experience b) I have always been mindful of not burning bridges and maintaining good work relationships c) I am professional and relatable. This means I allow others to see my authentic self and others can connect with it. I can see a task to completion and not be afraid to recite trap music while I’m doing it. I can run a department and share a funny story about my perspective on life. Years ago I thought you could only be one way at work and you had to hide your true identity until after hours. Transparency requires you to live both lives at the same time.
Transparency has no parameters, it’s freeing to the spirit. It’s, even more, freeing when you can share your story about balancing your real life journey. My current journey involves me being a hyphenated hustler. I am a full-time entrepreneur that on occasion works a corporate 9 to 5. I am a planner and like to think ahead. I maintain a certain financial threshold that I consistently check to make sure I am on track to keeping a roof over my head and being able to run a business. I also know as a new business owner, which means everything you make the first couple of years has to be reinvested immediately to ensure longevity. While I made pretty good income from my business in 2017 ($40K), it was a bit inconsistent and I had to use some of my savings. Prior to 2017, my business income never surpassed $10K so I’m proud of my progress. I would also like to keep the momentum going and gain more consistency. In order to do that I have to keep my business funded. Funding will allow me to continue advertising, marketing, and networking to keep my brand relevant. Needless to say, I had to think about what can I do to raise a lot of money to sustain my wellness business as I go into 2018. The answer was of course to moonlight in my old vocation.
I initially had mixed emotions about it. I was concerned about how I would balance full-time entrepreneurship with a corporate 9 to 5. I have gotten used to a more open schedule but I reasoned with myself that it’s short term so I could push through the fear. I spend the first 2-3 hours of my day working on my business before I head out to the 9 to 5. I also work over lunch and after work to keep things going. When you are passionate about something, it’s hard to sleep without pursuing it. I do my best Monday through Friday then use the weekends to do everything else.
I was also concerned about how others would view my choice. Here I was planning a Quit Your Job Conference but working a 9 to 5 to help fund the event. The truth is all of my decisions are related to staying in business. Rather than go out of business due to pride, I had to let my fear go. I could either temporarily balance the two or deal with the consequences of not surviving and having to permanently go back into the corporate world. The lesson learned was most people judging my decision have probably not ever stepped out into entrepreneurship and would only understand once they had the experience. Living your dream is a process and very humbling, yet every step is rewarding and takes you out of your comfort zone into the unknown. The beauty of consulting is I still have the option of leaving once my goal is met without creating bad ties or burning bridges. I also have the option of working with the same company at a later date if I choose. In a full-time position sometimes your soon to be former employer take your decision to leave personal and will shun you because they are disappointed or upset. Being a consultant says my time here is limited and I don’t have to hide it. You also earn a lot more per hour as a consultant. My ultimate goal from a consulting standpoint is to hire a couple of people and eventually only serve as manager. Therefore, the connection I am making today, I can use at a later date as well. As a hyphenated hustler, you always have to think five steps ahead. I’ve made peace with my decision and I’m looking forward to 2018 being better than 2017.
Peace and Blessings
A Sister’s Siesta: Mental Rest In A Safe Place is a monthly platform for connecting women of color to discuss relevant issues in our workplaces and other settings. Every month is a different theme to tackle.
I attended my first A Sister Siesta event last night which was an open discussion on our accomplishments for 2017. I honestly didn’t know what to expect but it ended up being the most empowering two and a half hours of my year. I sat at a table with Jasmin, Certified Professional Career Coach and at least fifteen women. We were tasked with taking some time to write out our accomplishments in the following categories; professional, spiritual, physical, relational and emotional. Although at the end of the year I write out my accomplishments, it never dawned on me to break them out into these categories. However, Bianca K. Hughes, Associate Professional Counselor, and facilitator pointed out most people only focus on professional accomplishments while the other areas remain in the shadows.
As I was writing I realized I had so many first in 2017 and all of my accomplishments for this year were a direct result of having the courage to quit my job and step out on faith. My family and friends have been overwhelmingly supportive and share how proud they are of me, however, this was the first time I actually sat down to take inventory of my success. I came from an era and culture where sharing your accomplishments was seen as arrogance. As a woman, I also learned to dim my light to keep other people from feeling uncomfortable. This is an old mentality that no longer fits who I am. I want others to know that finding your path and purpose won’t allow you to stay hidden from other people. I’ve gotten into a space where I want to tell anyone who will listen and my truth has nothing to do with anyone else’s life. My truth is meant to reach, inspire and motivate those that look like me and anyone who aspires to find their happy. Our ‘happy’ might not look the same but it only takes one person, message, or thought to inspire change in someone else. If my courage and journey only help one person then my work here is done. My legacy is forever etched at this time because I had the courage to follow my spiritual promptings and walk out into the unknown.
So when the facilitators asked who wanted to share their accomplishments I damn near stood up and pushed the table over. I was that excited and I wanted to be heard. In my head, this task was all about me. I’ve gone from hardly sharing anything to wanting to authentically sharing everything. That alone is an accomplishment. Below is a partial list of what I shared with this group.
- Actively practiced walking on blind faith and pushed through my fears in 2017
- Increased self care regimen and feel more rested.
- Gained insight on areas I still need to heal especially as it relates to my immediate family
- Allowed my family and friends to support me, previously I was very private and wouldn’t ask for anything. Now I chose to share my journey with them. I choose to be open to them supporting me spiritually, mentally, emotionally and financially.
- Connected more and for longer periods of time with family and friends
- Reconnected with someone from the past. I am open and available for love. I am able to verbalize what I want and need and this person has been open to meeting me where I am.
So 2017 has truly been a good year for me. Last weekend I was up writing my vision for 2018 and I got so elated about the possibilities. Everyone must attend an empowerment event like A Sister’s Siesta, it might change how you view who you are.
Peace and Blessings