by Michelle J Raymond
In an instant, it became harder to breathe. The tears started to roll down my cheeks. My mind tried to fathom what had just happened. Was I missing something? The call I had just answered from my customer made no sense. The questions I asked and the answers I received just didn’t add up.
About to drive into my driveway after a long day at the office, I stopped to answer a quick call from our most important client. Having spoken to them only a few hours earlier I thought it would be a quick call.
Instead, I would learn that the owner of the business I worked for had reneged on a $2M deal I had negotiated with the client. Worse still, they had gone behind my back, lied, and to add further insult to injury, had blamed me for it all.
I pictured my career in the industry as over. My name and reputation would be tarnished beyond repair. In my mind, no one would hire me ever again. It crushed me like someone was sitting on my chest and it was hard to breathe.
Dazed and confused, I quit that same night and never went back.
I hardly slept that night as my mind raced to think of all the consequences of that broken contract. As I woke anger also started to set in. My day normally filled with the hustle that comes with managing a busy team was replaced with silence. No phone ringing, no staff questions, no email notifications. Just my own thoughts to keep me company.
At that moment, I decided that I would never work for anyone else again.
It sounds gallant. I was fortunate to have a supportive partner who told me to back myself. We decided if I was to do in my own business what I had done for the businesses I had worked for, then no doubt it would be a success.
However, until that moment I had no plans to be an entrepreneur.
It was never something that I considered an option before that. With every confidence in my ability, I just needed to work out what the business would do exactly. Sounded easy enough.
Except it wasn’t.
As word spread through the industry of my availability, I received all kinds of offers to work together. It seemed everyone had a different idea of what that would look like. It was great for my battered ego. A confidence boost was exactly what I needed. Except all the ideas pulled me in a different direction. None of which resonated or inspired me to commit.
The excitement of having my own business was quickly replaced with crippling self-doubt. The pressure I put on myself to find the perfect idea, seemed to make all the potential ideas disappear. This turned into me doing nothing and I mean nothing. The cold winter days, COVID lockdown, and being an extrovert with limited human contact was a recipe for disaster.
I gave up and announced, “I’m going to look for a job.” The attention of a head hunter seemed like a much easier option. The interview went great, and I was told to expect an offer. Except, it didn’t come. I was ghosted. In hindsight, this was a blessing.
During this time, the one constant that had been a part of my world was LinkedIn. In my previous roles, I built a world-class niche community related to my industry.
The world was now in the grip of COVID-19 and lockdown had become the norm in Australia. I watched as industry events were cancelled. Trade shows too. No travel. No customer site visits. I noticed former competitors had turned to LinkedIn as a tool to reach existing and potential clients online.
With time on my hands and always a desire to help others, I reached out to one with some LinkedIn advice, “If you try X, Y, and Z it will help your content reach more people”. Her reply thankfully “Where did you learn all this LinkedIn stuff? I wish I could learn from you.”
The lightbulb went off.
That was it!
I could write tailored training to help other companies in the industry build brand awareness with content on LinkedIn. I had my business idea.
Full of enthusiasm off I went and wrote the first-of-its-kind LinkedIn Masterclass for the industry. I reached back out to let the person know and to find out if they were interested. Unfortunately, they had other plans. My 20+ years of selling experience kicked in. No didn’t mean anything. It was time to ask someone else.
The next business owner also said no to training. But they were a big yes to me doing it for them. I approached another business owner, and they said the same thing. And the next. After some research, I discovered that LinkedIn Company Pages was the perfect way to do this. I had confirmation of my business idea.
I must admit I had never even considered that it was a real job that people would pay me for. It makes me laugh now when I think back.
But while I had the backing of these clients, my own confidence in the idea wouldn’t come until much later. I was scared that I would become another statistic of businesses that fail in the first year. I kept the back door open to my old industry “just in case” I needed a job.
I recall reading the quote “burn the boats to take the island.” It struck a nerve. That was exactly what I needed to do. If I wanted my business to be a success, I would need to go all in. I would need to back myself in my own business as much as I had always supported businesses as an employee.
It was liberating.
Fast forward to today and I’m extremely proud of the business I have built.
I am acknowledged by my peers and the LinkedIn Pages team themselves as the international go-to LinkedIn Company Page expert. My clients have come from sixteen different countries. I am the co- author of the world’s first book on LinkedIn Pages and my business is thriving.
I’m proud of finding my way past the days I could not see the path forward.
No matter where or how your entrepreneur journey starts – the answer is always back yourself. Trust your instincts and build a community of supporters to get you through the days you will wonder if it’s all worth it.
Just so you know – it is.
Michelle J Raymond is a B2B LinkedIn Strategist, international LinkedIn Pages expert and best-selling author. She founded Good Trading Co, to share her expert knowledge in social selling, content marketing, employee advocacy and B2B community building techniques. She designs and delivers tailor made strategies and training programs to help businesses generate brand awareness and attract opportunities using LinkedIn.