Making the Transition

You might be a born entrepreneur, but that doesn't mean you're ready to own a business. With our help, though, it'll be a smooth evolution.

After repeated attempts at squeezing your square self into a round hole, you finally admitted it wasn't going to work. You said good-bye to corporate America and bravely embarked on a journey toward the greener pastures of entrepreneurship. You carried with you tons of tangible information-details on marketing, health insurance and places to find cheap office supplies. The one thing missing from your backpack was an understanding of the myriad of changes you'd experience as you made your way through this transition.

If you find yourself sitting in your office, blasting the stereo and fighting the temptation to surf the Internet until your eyes bleed, you're not alone. According to Manhattan psychologist Dr. Vicki Ianucelli, we are conditioned, from the time we first step foot in school, to function optimally in a structured environment, so the idea that you can actually ditch this kind of life isn't always top of mind. "In making the jump from a 9-to-5 job to trying to establish a business, you need to create a new reality," says Ianucelli. "That's very difficult."

For Dawn Lloyd, 31, owner of KDL Enterprises Inc., the parent company of pregnancy and parenting Web site BabyUniversity.com, it took some time to create that reality. "I was terrified I was going to sit on the couch and watch Oprah all day," says Lloyd, who runs her business from her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. "If someone wasn't watching over me and signing my paycheck, would I work?"

It took several months of promising herself she wouldn't turn on the TV during working hours before Lloyd's entrepreneurial routine became a habit. But with self-discipline and the determination to overcome her fears, she did it. "When I realized I had made it past that point, it was amazing!" she happily recalls.

The flip side to entrepreneurial paralysis, of course, is entrepreneurial overload-those times when you just don't know when to call it quits for the day. As Todd Brabender, 35, owner and president of Spread the News Public Relations Inc. in Lawrence, Kansas, puts it, "When you're a business owner, sometimes the 5 o'clock whistle blows at midnight."

George Cigale, 32, founder and CEO of Tutor.com, a Manhattan-based company that seeks to unite educators and students, knows what it's like to see the dawn during the start-up stage. "There were times when I was literally rolling out of bed and walking, or crawling, over to the desk," he laughs. "The day would restart because I had 100 e-mails to write, and then suddenly the sun would be coming up."

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This article was originally published in the March 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Making the Transition.

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