The Real Danger of Having a Back-up Plan

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One woman reflects on her business journey.

Ed’s note: This post was written by guest editor Tahlia Crinis of Boss Media PR.

I can vividly remember spending a lot of time at jobs staring out the window and wondering why my “dream job” still didn’t feel quite right. In terms of jobs, on paper, I’ve had some pretty glamorous ones – working in PR for some of Australia’s biggest agencies, such as The ARC Factory and Sweaty Betty PR, which saw me rub shoulders with the likes of Snoop Dogg and founder Roxy Jacenko herself. Or working for high-profile model Lara Worthington and sitting in a hotel room with her and Avatar actor Sam Worthington feeling so utterly grateful, but still wondering why this job, that I’d strived so hard to get, had me feeling like something was missing.

It’s taken a lot of years and quite a few jobs to realise what was missing: freedom. For me, working for someone else left me feeling like I wasn’t free (and if you’re naturally a free-spirited person, that can be pretty stifling). That’s not to say there was anything wrong with the companies, or people I worked for – they’ve all been pretty bloody incredible. It’s just that I felt suffocated by the pressure I’d put on myself to do a “perfect” job, restricted by regular work hours, and truth be told, annoyed at constantly being told what to do (thinking I’m always right is not my strong suit, but I’m working on that).

In November 2017, I decided to do something about that feeling. It was after I’d changed jobs once again, and not so surprisingly, found myself feeling suffocated. After a month on the job, a lot of sleepless nights, and a pretty enlightening yoga session, I walked into the office on Monday morning and quit. I had no idea what I was going to do, had no other job to go to, and couldn’t really even put into words why I was quitting. But I just knew I wasn’t happy and had to make a change. Possibly the most irresponsible part of it all was the fact that I had barely any savings.

So naturally, with my lack of savings, I took an overseas holiday to try and come to grips with what the hell I was going to do. Two weeks later, I was back in Sydney with no job and still no real clue. All I knew what that the idea of going back to work for someone else made me feel ill. So I decided to go out on my own and start Boss Media. Here’s what I wish I knew back then.

There will never be a “right” time

I’ve toyed with starting my own consultancy for years, even two years ago when I was studying digital marketing, I did my final presentation on a fictitious business called Boss Media. Looking back, I wish I made the jump then. Yet I was scared of all the things that could go wrong, scared of what I didn’t know and scared of failing. I kept thinking, “If I just give it one more year, then I’ll be ready.” But I can tell you now, there will never be a right time. You will never feel “ready”. In the end, if it all fails, you’re going to be grateful that you gave it a try.

Let go if you’re not happy

The biggest lesson I learnt was letting go of things that weren’t making me happy. On paper, I should have been the happiest woman in the world. I’d achieved my goal of working in travel PR for a global agency and I was living a balanced life in a beautiful apartment with the man of my dreams. But I just couldn’t shake that feeling of unhappiness that liked to creep into my psyche every Sunday night. If you’re not happy, you have to change whatever it is that is making you unhappy. Whether it’s your job, your partner, or your living situation, staying unhappy for long periods of time can have a snowball effect on your whole life.

Nothing can stand in the way of hard work

The incredible thing about starting a business with hardly any savings is that the idea of not knowing where rent is coming from can be really motivating. With this as my driving force, I set about contacting all the brands that I aspired to represent. Within two weeks, I had two clients signed on retainers, but I can’t tell you how many brands I contacted – just know that it was a lot. I figured with all the knock backs, there was bound to be someone that showed interest… and luckily it worked. But it only worked because I sat in front of my computer every single day for a minimum of 14 hours a day. I know that’s not healthy, but I also knew that the only way that I was going to get clients was if I worked my butt off. So that meant countless emails, phone calls, Skype sessions and proposals (some 60 pages long before I’d even signed the client). When you work for yourself, you realise that you are 100 per cent responsible for every outcome. So you better make sure you give it your all, otherwise you’re the only person to blame if it fails.

There is only one you, so do it your way

I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve had to stop myself from comparing myself to others. I look at some of the other successful publicists and agencies with staff attending all the fabulous parties in all the right outfits. I often think, “I wish I was cooler, or prettier, or more popular.” But truth be told, I’m a total nerd at heart and happiest in my pyjamas wearing a face mask on a Saturday night reading a good book. I will never be that type of publicist and that’s okay. What’s important in life, and in business, is to do things your own way. So whether that’s just staying true to the real you (which maybe means getting up at 5am without a hangover), or advising clients differently, or structuring your work in a different way, then you’ve then got a different service to offer. Maybe you might not be the right fit for everyone, but I can guarantee you that there will be people out there looking for everything you’ve got to offer.

Step out of your comfort zone

Getting a generous monthly salary and guaranteed paid annual leave every year is pretty enticing for most people, right? But what’s not as appealing is that 9-to-5 routine, feeling like every day is Groundhog Day. You might have a cushy job that pays really well, and I did too, but without happiness that all means nothing. Stepping out of your comfort zone is damn scary, but if you can make sure you have support networks in place, it could just well be the best decision you’ll ever make.

Never have a Plan B

Someone, and I can’t remember who, once said that the best advice they got was to “never have a Plan B.” That resonated with me at the time, and has stuck with me ever since. What it means is you’re setting yourself up for failure without even starting. If you have a Plan B, you’re basically saying to the universe that you’re going need back-up, because Plan A won’t work. You’re so much better off living by the motto that Plan A is your one and only option. Sticking solely to Plan A without even considering Plan B means you’re less likely to let anything stand in your way and will stop at nothing to achieve that big dream.

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