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Advice / Career Paths / Career Change

5 Lessons I Learned the Hard Way When I Left My Secure Job to Launch My Own Business

Do what you love and youll never work a day in your life.

The longer I spent working in the energy industry, the more I started to wonder if this was true. Sure, I had great colleagues and a secure, steady income, but I was far from passionate about my job. Every single day felt like work. (Every. Single. Day.)

Enter Pure Barre.

As soon as I took my first class, I was hooked on the workout. By the time I got a few more classes under my belt, I knew I wanted to open my own studio. It’s easy for me to type that now, but at the time, leaving my corporate job felt crazy. Also, stupid. How could I possibly support myself?

But, life is short, so I abandoned the security of working for someone else and dove head first into entrepreneurship by opening my own fitness studio.

Here are a few lessons I learned in the process (a.k.a., the hard way) that you can and should apply to your own career—especially if you constantly hear a voice in the back of your head telling to follow your dreams.

1. Just Do It

As cliché as it sounds, doing is far, far better than thinking about doing. And trust me, before this, I wasn’t a do-er. In fact, I’m an analyzer. I take time to process the pros and cons of almost all my decisions, big and small. But, at a certain point you must take action, even if that action is deciding that your idea is a bad one after all.

I thought a lot about opening a Pure Barre studio before I finally took the leap of faith. The process of doing it took about two years. Even though I knew I loved it from day one, I had a busy schedule (and that pesky, secure job). So I kept telling the little voice in my head to quiet down. Slowly, but surely, that voice got louder and went from “I love this!” to “I could do this” and then to “I have to do this or I will regret it the rest of my life.”

2. Change Is the Only Constant

While consistency’s comfortable, it doesn’t last long. There’ll always be new challenges and better methods to accomplish tasks.

In addition to the ever-present scheduling and staffing changes, we also have the added layer of creating a new product daily. In the fitness industry especially, if you’re not constantly changing, evolving, and growing, your clients will get bored or stop seeing results and take their business elsewhere. This means our teachers have to be on top of their game 100% of the time, and that’s no easy task. We’re constantly working new exercises and (occasionally) new equipment into our routines to keep it fresh for clients.

3. Trust Your Gut

It’s right more frequently than not, and you’ll likely kick yourself (down the road) when you don’t trust your instincts. In the studio’s early days, I often questioned myself about every move I wanted to make—which usually lead me to lose confidence in my decisions. After all, who was I to know how to run this business?

Turns out I was the person to know—after all, I got into this because I was passionate about it.

I admit, I made some mistakes in the beginning, especially related to hiring, coaching, and leading the right team of people. Teaching Pure Barre is a challenging job; it’s the only thing more challenging than taking a class. It takes a lot of hard work upfront and the rewards (changing people’s lives) follow far behind—so no, it’s not for everyone. Those who look great on paper may not interview well, and those who interview well might not the right personality to lead a large group. So, rather than running down a traditional checklist now, I look for an outgoing personality, a burning passion for this type of exercise, and natural musical rhythm—three things that can’t exactly be measured.

4. You’re Stronger Than You Think

This is a phrase Pure Barre teachers often say when an exercise gets tough and clients want to come out of the position for a break. Perseverance always leads to better results.

Shortly after we opened, we received complaints from a neighboring business that the sound from class was carrying into its space. We tried everything to fix the problem—turning down the volume, installing new equipment, sealing the wall penetrations—to no avail. We ultimately had to make the decision to install a drywall ceiling to solve the problem. It was an expensive and stressful process for a new business to have to go “under construction” shortly after opening, but in the end it all worked out.

Things will get tough, that’s a guarantee. When doubt creeps in and I want to curl up in a ball and quit, remembering that I’m stronger than I think helps me stick it out and get the job done. That’s not to say I haven’t learned some tough lessons the hard—read: expensive—way, but going through that process ultimately made me stronger in the end.

5. Leadership Takes Courage

“Heavy is the head that wears the crown,” so the saying goes.

Big decisions, such as hiring and firing, can be scary, and for the most part, that’s expected. However, even small tasks like delegating things to others, or pushing a staff member beyond her comfort level to help her grow, takes courage and trust. Not only do you have to trust the other person, you have to trust yourself—and be brave enough to act on that when leading a team. Yes, it’s scary to be the person in charge, the person who it all comes down to every day. But it’s incredibly rewarding to watch your staff grow beyond their expectations.

I truly love my job. My staff and the fabulous clients are really what make my company a success. While it does take a lot of hard work (that opening quote is a lie, by the way), it’s fun, rewarding work that makes me feel whole and impactful. And really, what more could you ask for in a career?

Photo of man jumping courtesy of Shutterstock.