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Imperfect Action, or How I Started My Business 3 Years Early

Updated: Nov 29, 2018

I’ll do it tomorrow. I’ll start Monday. That’s a problem for future me.

I’m guilty of saying all those things. It wasn’t until I learned about the concept of imperfect action and a friend dared me to ‘click’ my business into existence that my life really started to change. Oh, and you can do the same thing too. Let me start at the beginning.

This time last year I used Thanksgiving weekend to reflect. What would the new year bring me and was I excited about where I was going? I determined that I needed to up invest in up-leveling my business knowledge if I was going to successfully run a business. I’d been watching a couple friends go through a part-time evening program at the University of Washington and that’s when it came to me. Obviously, I needed to go back to school and get my MBA before I could start a business. Clearly that was the only way. I think we all know that was my fear of failure talking which a structured program helped alleviate.

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

As the first person in my family to attend graduate school, a naïve part of me didn’t realize what I was signing up for to just apply. GRE studying commenced, the requests for letters of recommendation went out, and the essay writing frenzy began. But that’s not all that began. What I hadn’t mentally prepared for was the barrage of questions I started receiving from co-workers and family. ‘You don’t need that to start a business’, ‘I don’t have one and I’m fine’, and my favorite ‘what does your husband think of all of this’ – as if he’s ever tried to quell my ambition. I wish you could see me eye-rolling right now.

My scores came back – I googled them twice to be sure. Yup, no yeah, my quant score was garbage. I did what any grit-filled girlboss would do, I took the damn test again. And you will never believe this – you know the 5-hour test that is mentally and physically exhausting – the one I studied for every night for an additional month? Yeah, I got the same quant score as before. Looking at the marketing materials for my top choice program I felt discouraged. Suddenly, my plan seemed like a longshot. Do I start over? Do I forget it completely? Hell no! I applied to two more programs just in case. My mindset was this: I definitely wouldn’t get in if I didn’t apply, so I may as well apply. That Christmas I asked for a backpack that had a lot of cool pockets that I’d seen on a Facebook ad because if you make room for something, sometimes it happens.

While I waited to hear back from my selected schools, I enrolled in an advanced Executive Coaching class so I began taking on external practice clients for class. My corporate job was a learning & development role that focused on being an internal corporate leadership coach. That’s when the whirlwind started. An internal client left the company and wanted to continue to work together. But that would mean starting a business. I didn’t know how to do that. I did a really good job coming up with excuses and reasons why I couldn’t do that – I needed my MBA first and I had just gotten in to one of my fall back programs. I would definitely be using that backpack this Fall!

That’s when my friend stopped my monologue of ‘why I couldn’t’ with this offering of advice: “Just start clicking”. That’s all she said (she herself owning a business for over 5 years). I knew how to click. I clicked my way into my state and city business licensing. I clicked into renting a small office space. Clicked my way into a website – well, then I gave up and hired someone. Scheduling tools, teleconferencing software, business bank accounts. Before I knew it, I was working consistently on my side hustle company most evenings and weekends.

Then I got it. My acceptance into my top choice school! It was happening! I still couldn’t talk about my business without sounding confused I even had one; yet but I was going to school in the Fall – over nine years after earning my bachelor’s degree.

Fast forward through a personal internal search and realizing out of my commitments I couldn’t go to a top 20 MBA program, attend coaching class, keep killing my corporate job and be a decent wife/friend/daughter/human. Something had to go. I knew it was my corporate job, but I’d never left a job I actually liked before. It felt impossible and crazy because nothing was wrong. I was making good money. I liked my team. But if not now, then when?

I’ll skip ahead past the details of the first month, that’s a blog for another day, and take you to where I sit today. I’m writing this from an Alaska Airlines flight on my way to NYC to attend the GirlBoss Rally. It’s almost Thanksgiving again – one year since I started a new chapter. I know people say it all the time, but I never saw myself here. I would have put it off until I was done with school and of course I would have probably come up with a new reason when I got to that point. It's not about how amazing your next step is. It’s about moving forward toward your checkpoint. It’s not about designing the perfect, fail-safe plan. It’s about experimenting and trying things on. Whatever your next chapter is – it’s within reach. It might not be a huge life overhaul but inching toward your next milestone one click at a time.

For the record – I haven’t figured it all out yet either. I can’t say I’m a Founder of a firm without making it sound like a question yet – but I know if I keep saying it, one day it will fall out of my mouth with confidence.


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