Business

5 Things to Think About Before You Quit Your Day Job

How do I know when it's time to quit my job and run my side business full-time?

This is a question I hear often and have the hardest time answering. The truth is, there is no right answer. I think it's an art and a science and the timing will be completely different for everyone. However, now that it has been two years since I put in my two weeks, I can definitely tell you the 5 things I would ask myself before taking the leap. 

Business, Life

HAPPY THIRD BIRTHDAY, BE THERE IN FIVE

Photo Credit: Bayly Shelley

Photo Credit: Bayly Shelley

I wrote the below excerpt at 2 AM in late 2013 when trying to set up an Etsy page. The setup wizard simply said "tell us about your shop"and for some reason, I launched into 5 paragraphs about the meaningful root causes of tardiness and why they shouldn't be so easily written off as symptoms of disrespect. I remember staying up all night to write this in desperate hopes that someone would identify with it and maybe buy a mat. 

Fast forward three years, and somehow these paragraphs I wrote in the middle of the night turned into a hobby, then a company, and then a career. These simple doormats have exceeded my wildest expectations and continue to have legs where I never thought possible. But honestly, I've been struggling to find the words to commemorate Be There in Five's third birthday. As badly as I wanted to write an anniversary post about how far I've come, all I could think about is how I don't feel like I'm far enough along. In my 'finding your passion' blog post, I talked about what I perceive to be the self-sabotaging cycle of the ambitious. You think you know your definition of success only to raise your own bar and bring about seasons of self-doubt when you aren't meeting your own expectations. Even though the business is completely fine as it is, some days I really doubt my ability to take it to the next level. Some days I do not want to make major decisions, some days I wish I could defer to someone else. Some days I want to drink chocolate milk in bed and watch The Office reruns, but that has less to do with my job and more about me as a person. Anyway, I thought about not writing anything altogether, but upon revisiting what I wrote about my shop before it even existed, I changed my mind. I read about how I [at the time] was feeling like the internet was leaving me feeling more inadequate than inspired, and that I wanted Be There in Five to be the exception. I didn't want my customers to pretend like they had it all together, and frankly I shouldn't either. I'm so often in the position of giving other people advice, but most days I feel like I've barely scratched the surface of what I should know by now. 

Being somewhat of an accidental entrepreneur is definitely something I've struggled with the past three years. Spending longer on my 'about' page than a go-to-market plan should have been the first sign that this role may be a little challenging for someone like me. I take daily stock of my shortcomings; all the things I know I should do but never get around to. I read about real 'game changers' and 'disrupters' that seem to be fundraising, networking, writing business plans and financial forecasts in between their many press releases, while I'm sitting here sorting through fresh tendrils of shipping labels and playing a never-ending game of hopscotch with drying rugs. How can I never have enough time, but feel like time is standing still?

The truth is, this is the hardest job I've ever had. You think self-employment is an escape from a boss who is hard on you until you realize that there is no harsher critic than yourself. Nagging middle management has nothing on this brain of mine, I'll tell you that much. I read articles about all the keys to growth and the qualities of successful entrepreneurs and have moments where I fear I've got it all wrong. And then I wonder if the universe will figure me out; that I'll be dubbed undeserving of this position and I'll have to go find a way to make all the tiny morsels of information I've collected in the past 3 years into something that resembles a mainstream career. 

But whenever I have these passing moments of uncertainty, I try to remember that my high expectations and critical nature may be the exact reason I found myself in this role. Being an entrepreneur isn't a job for the self-satisfied and complacent. This isn't a job for people who think they already know everything. This isn't a job for those on the straight and narrow or for people who can't view the unknown as a canvas. Perhaps it would be a bigger problem if I did not have all of these thoughts. You have to be a little crazy to weather the difficulties and still keep coming back for more. The best way I can explain it is that the hard days don't make me want to quit; I have hard days because I never want to have to quit.

I'm telling you all of this because I don't want to be one of those articles that I previously mentioned; the ones that appear to only show the highlight reel. I want anyone else who is in the thick of it to know I'm right there with you. And most of all, I want to encourage anyone who is pursuing something to lean in to the hard days. (Lean In! What an original thought! Thank God I wrote this blog post!) The hard days help you reach a level of self-awareness that isn't possible when you can redirect blame onto a company, management or a client. The hard days can be powerful catalysts if you let them.  They help you recommit, they help you practice gratitude, and most of all, they take you back to the hopeful place where it started, sitting on your computer at 2 AM, writing something you don't know if anyone will ever read. Just like I'm doing now.

So for today I'll toast to my little company that I love so dearly; thank you for introducing me to myself and for providing me with the greatest adventure of my life thus far. Cheers to 3 years and many more. 

We'll be here in 5 years, we swear :)

kate sig.png
 

DIY, Home Decor, Life

DIY Day 2: Custom Hairpin Leg TV Stand / A Furniture Solution for Baseboard Heaters

Check out Day 1 for a tutorial on the wood crates that hide TV accessories and cords.

Even though we, like everyone else, have recently been on a mid-century kick, our original need for this TV stand was actually more functional than fashionable. We had baseboard heaters at our last apartment that wouldn't allow furniture to sit flat against the wall and it drove me nuts (see first photo below). I realize this is such a comically bad picture (like those glum mugshot-esque 'before' skincare photos taken from below with poor lighting) but I assure you I did not style this to look horrible. It really just looked horrible.

So as you can see in the before and after, instead of a TV stand jutting out several inches, we bought hairpin legs and a piece of reclaimed wood on Etsy and screwed on the hind legs closer to the middle to leave room for the baseboard. The angle of hairpin legs made it more stable and not too top heavy. The legs each require four small screws and are fastened to the wood shelf pretty easily. Maybe you should use a drill (?) but I couldn't find one and was growing impatient so my fiance attached with a regular ole screwdriver and we haven't had any problems! 

At our new place we don't have this issue (see photo in the cordless crate tutorial) but we still like the aesthetic of this tv stand and were able to move the legs toward the back of the shelf accommodate. A lot of entertainment centers are super clunky and I like the minimalistic vibe of this one.

In a later DIY this week, I'll show you how we started "reclaiming" wood on our own by distressing new Home Depot lumber (hint: I put on stilettos and stomped for a few satisfying minutes), but if you want to make this super easy we bought this slab from a wood shop on Etsy. I can't find our specific one anymore but search for reclaimed wood shelf or plank and don't be scared to ask for a custom order, stain, or even see if someone selling a full table can just provide the wood top and save money on the legs. Another great place to find reclaimed wood is to google a local reclaimed building materials yard or warehouse where they recycle parts of recently deconstructed buildings. ReBuilding Exchange is a great one for those of you in Chicago. Link for hairpin legs below!

 

Home Decor, DIY, Life

DIY Day 1: CRATES THAT HIDE CORDS, SUBWOOFERS AND GAME CONSOLES

For the first of our five-part series, I thought I'd start with the easiest DIY that fixes a major living room eye sore. I'd also like to use this forum to express my satisfaction with the sound from the regular TV speaker. But I also sometimes watch SD channels without realizing it so I don't get to make the electronic decisions around the house. I'm told the sound quality from a flat screen is quite poor, so if your counterpart or roommate is insistent on having an external sound system,  this is an easy solution for the cumbersome subwoofer that comes along with it and any other cable boxes/routers/etc. that you'd prefer not be visible. The spaces in between the boards allow for remote censors, but we just left our DVR out because it's pretty small and let's be honest, I didn't feel like staining another crate. Here at Be There in Five we are B+ kind of people.

Our current setup. Next post will be about this TV stand you can make for <$100.

Our current setup. Next post will be about this TV stand you can make for <$100.

The incredibly easy Instructions (all product links at the end of the post):

Before and after at our last apartment when this DIY first took place

Before and after at our last apartment when this DIY first took place

  • Buy plain birch wooden crates depending on the size of what you're hiding, pictured dimensions are 17.5x12.5x9.25. There are a ton of these at craft stores like Michael's and also on Amazon (below)

 

  • Buy a half pint of wood stain (ours is Minwax Special Walnut). 

 

  • Lightly sand crates with sandpaper and apply stain with a lint-free rag (or t-shirt). If you need more hand holding on stain application there are a million Youtube videos about it!

 

  • Once it dries, stuff everything you can in it and tape excess cords together then to the bottom of TV stand or along the back of legs. 

 

 

To make this quick I didn't even stain the inside, but I would suggest getting a small brush so you can stain the visible part of the cracks. This honestly took about 15 minutes total. These will get more complicated as the week goes on, so stay tuned :)

 

 

5 Easy Home DIYs (Be There in Five Tested and Approved)

There are a lot of criteria that a DIY project has to meet before I take it on. All parts must be lightweight (I live in a walk up), it has to fit in an UberXL (I don't have a car), it can't require a drill (I can't work power tools), it has to be finish-able pretty soon after I start it (or else there is no hope) and finally it has to be something I can't afford to buy finished (otherwise trust me, I'd buy-it-myself instead of do-it-myself). So with that in mind, I think it's safe to say these are pretty simple DIY projects that anyone can do regardless of experience. 

DIY Gallery Wall in our apartment (and of course Be There in Five's No Champagne No Gain mat can be purchased here)

DIY Gallery Wall in our apartment (and of course Be There in Five's No Champagne No Gain mat can be purchased here)

 

I'll publish one per day to keep them easily readable and accessible, so follow this week to check out tutorials by clicking on any from list below! 

1. DIY crates that hide CORDS, SOUND SYSTEMS AND GAME CONSOLES

2. DIY hairpin leg tv stand

3. DIY tiled square gallery wall

4. DIY Gold and marble coffee table

5. DIY reclaimed wood sofa table desk

 

Happy DIYing!