No matter how many of us dream of striking out on our own, teams and orgs still make the world go around.
Many of my coaching clients who work in companies weigh going into business for themselves, or answering a life-long dream.
That was definitely the case with me. I loved the companies I worked in. I loved what we did, and the values we lived every day. And yet, there was always a call to support companies beyond where I worked.
This question comes up constantly, especially when team dynamics drive us nuts:
“How do I pivot out of a full-time role, and paycheck?
Especially if I have a family to support?”
There are obviously many things to consider around finances, and time. You’ll need the financial runway to ramp what you’re building. You’ll also need time to build the content, network, and case studies to be successful.
I didn’t want to hear all of this 6 years ago, when I was ready to quit. I wanted to hear: “you’re going to kill it! Go for it!”
Props to all my coaches and allies who made me think this through.
However, something I tripped over made the biggest difference of all. I call this The Vendor Mindset. Viewing my full-time gig as an “employee” was keeping me stuck there. I had no interest in my manager’s job.
Once I started coaching and consulting in my free time, I made a subtle— yet powerful— tweak in mindset that completely renegotiated our relationship.
Rather than looking at my full-time gig as my employer, I started treating them like a client. This made me their supplier, or vendor, rather than an employee.
This shift did 3 important things
- It upgraded my complacency to a sense of urgency, and service. As a client, they no longer owed me anything beyond what I earned. It refocused me on building relationships, trust, and a reputation. The goal (that my employer instilled in me) was to create Raving Fans.
How often do we get stuck in going through the motions with our employers, versus delighting them, or creating a memorable experience? How badly do we need our people to think intra-preneurally? This made me work a lot harder, and create more value for the org. Both sides just seemed happier.
- The mindset shift freed up my emotional bandwidth. I cared less about internal politics. Seeing my employer as client gave me more autonomy to serve them without feeling obligated to give 150% of my time. As long as I felt pumped about what I delivered, and the feedback I was receiving, then I felt comfortable taking on additional clients.
- I eased up on judging any organizational dysfunction. We need to train our clients to maximize the value of our relationship. It increases our credibility, and self-sufficiency. It doesn’t help anyone to sit around moaning about how we would’ve done things differently..
The customer is always right— unless of course there’s a conflict of values, or you’re trying to fix crazy. Then you need to fire the client.
Looking back, The Vendor Mindset laid the foundation for the first 2.5 years of my entrepreneurial journey. There are always many clients to juggle, and some are larger than others.
Each of them deserve raving fan service.
However, too much attachment on either side isn’t healthy. It’s no mystery that a wacky relationship with our “job”, whether it’s a needy attachment, a sense of inequity, or of obligation (“they owe me something”) holds us back.
Orgs are always looking for ways to better motivate team members. It’s a drag to think anyone is only showing up because this job is all they know. On the flip side, motivated self-starters seem consumed with driving the bottom line, and saving money.
They think like owners.
I’m envious of my clients and friends who seem to thrive in organizations. Teamwork is really the way to get big things done. There’s magic in seeing yourself as part of something bigger, and loving where you get to work every day.
For the rest of us who live our mission by pollenating as many different teams as possible, it begins and ends with mindset.
Still in a company and thinking about making the leap? I challenge you to shift your mindset for 30 days, and see what happens.