What I've Struggled with Since Launching A Business
One of the most difficult transitions many business owners face is knowing when to step away from your 9-5 day job. The reason why the majority of people tend to struggle with this concept is likely twofold: they are hesitant to lose the major perks of working in a traditional setting, such as a stable paycheck, and they are comfortable in their current role.
Figuring out how to create or find a non-traditional role is one of the most common questions clients ask me. And, typically, their follow up question is: “How did YOU do it, Ashlee?”
So, in this week’s blog we will focus on the realities (and deep secrets) of how I launched my business. I am going to give you my BEST effort and a behind-the-scenes glance of what it really takes to build a business.
I’ve spent many years curating this brand of RX Ashlee, so my goal while writing this post is to not only give advice, but it’s to express the true realities of launching a biz. Let’s dive into the REAL struggles I’ve faced up until this point and how you can use the lessons I’ve learned to navigate your own career change or launch your own business.
Entrepreneurship 101: Jumping into the Deep End
I will always say that before diving into anything, having a strategic plan is a MUST. But, sometimes, part of that plan may require you to roll with the punches and jump into the deep end even if everyone is yelling “There’s no lifeguard here!!!”
Also, at this point in my business, the people who know RX Ashlee are split within two camps: colleagues and clients who deeply understand the mission, philosophy, and purpose of RX Ashlee versus the people who support me but may not clearly relate to what RX Ashlee represents (insert my entire family here!).
With this said - let me tell you straight: I LOVE the profession of pharmacy. Always have and always will. If you’ve been listening on my podcasts, The RX Buzz, you will know pharmacy is in my DNA.
I got the education. I did the advance training. I got the stellar job. I got the experience.
And then… guess what? LIFE happened!
I married a fantastic man who also happened to be on the path to becoming a physician – meaning we would both have to handle frequent moves, huge professional and personal stressors, large student loan burdens, on-call schedules, traveling for meetings and conferences, and long working hours as a team.
Then, we had our daughter, Madeline, and things got even crazier! We were figuring out the whole parenting thing and spending as much time with our little girl as possible in addition to our individual work responsibilities.
In the middle of all that, the company that I was working for was in the middle of changing ownership and I suddenly found myself getting THROWN into the deep end as I asked myself: if my responsibilities, passions, and values aren’t conducive to a traditional job, what can I use my skills to do?
It was extremely difficult to balance multiple careers under one roof, but I knew that I had to create something in order to satisfy my love of uplifting and supporting others as well as my need for a career that I was very proud of.
And that’s exactly how RX Ashlee was created.
Remembering Your Own Definition of Success
As I’ve discussed before, I’ve always wanted to be in a nontraditional work setting… I just really never knew what that meant until someone (major shout-out to my soul sister, Sarah!) pointed out what EXACTLY I was good at – and that was landing and creating new jobs.
Now let’s take this full circle and talk about the root of my perseverance principle:
Education + Skills + Passions + Perseverance = a nontraditional career you’ll love.
It’s not easy to start your own business. There are A LOT of hurdles even after you discover your passions and launch your dream business.
For me, going public with my business and ideas was extremely scary. I really value what my friends, mentors, and colleagues think about my work – so even launching my own blog was (very!) terrifying.
And that fear was somewhat founded because people DID (and still do) poke fun at the fact that I started blogging. But, here’s what keeps me going: since I’ve launched this blog, it has reached hundreds of thousands of readers spanning from Australia, to Europe, to Asia, to right here in Southern California. Each and every one of them can immediately (and digitally) learn directly from my experiences to take their own career or business to the next level.
In my case, I was not nervous to make the leap from a traditional setting to owning my own business because the results were there. Clients would work with me, and they would have more clarity in their careers and more confidence to launch their own business. They were landing the jobs that they’ve always wanted, and they loved their careers again.
You see, consulting and career advising made sense to me. However, in full transparency, for whatever reason, I was VERY reluctant to actually tell my friends and family what I was starting. I think this is because this new role is non-traditional. It is different and off the beaten path. It’s definitely not a “typical pharmacist job,” which is why I often find myself explaining time and time again WHY I am doing what I am doing.
Using Perseverance to Help Launch Your Business
Some people, including some of my closest and best friends, don’t really get how difficult it can be to launch a business and, in my opinion, that’s where PERSEVERANCE comes into play.
For me, the positives so far have truly outweighed the negatives. However, there have been a few instances where I’ve REALLY needed to take a step back and remember WHY I am in this career.
One of the most memorable moments for me happened about 2 weeks after I officially launched RX Ashlee. A very well- known, award- winning, academic male pharmacist reached out to me and specifically stated “Ashlee you do not have enough experience to be launching a business…. Who do you think you are for launching a business at your age and with such minimal experience?” I read that and immediately was devastated.
He was angry that I was calling myself a consultant since I didn’t have more than 20 years of experience. I am not sure where that 20 year marker specifically came from, but it turns out he was upset because he was launching a similar business.
In my opinion, the root of his issue, really, was that a younger professional was confidently helping others reach their own success. He went off on a tangent saying that I didn’t deserve to be in this role (which I created since this is my own business) because I lacked the level of experience and street cred HE thought was necessary.
My takeaway? This isn’t my first rodeo and my age isn’t a factor in how successful my business is and how helpful I can be to my clients.
Sure, I’ll have to navigate difficult situations in the future, but I’ll be able to overcome them and continue to use my skills to make working with me WORTHWHILE to my clients.
Finding the Right People to Work With
A major struggle that some business owners have to contend with is actually finding the right people to work with.
I consider myself to be very fortunate because, for the most part, I’ve found AMAZING people to work with. Many clients reach out and contact me for support and we’re able to set up a tangible plan to get them to that big, next step.
Something that I always find helpful is mapping out your intentions behind your business or your career: Who do you want to partner with IDEALLY? What clients are a PERFECT FIT for you? What products or services are you EXCITED to put out there into the world? What is your WHY in your business? Why should someone chose you over a different company?
Another essential factor is being able to say NO when you have to. Be professional. Be true to yourself. Be polite. Be firm. Most of all, be confident enough to follow your values and only dedicate time and energy to what aligns with your mission.
From there, it’s all about networking, building your brand, creating the right group of professionals to surround yourself with, and putting in the REAL work that comes with owning a business.
Supporting Other Women
For me, a HUGE goal of mine was to be an avid supporter of other professional women.
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t ONLY hire or work with women. Many of my clients, and my ROCKSTAR intern, are men. However, I place personal importance on lifting other women up as much as possible.
I find that the best way to support women is to make deep connections, work together when possible, and refer others to them whenever I can.
I strongly believe that women have the power to support others without tearing anyone down, and I’m always happy to help others through the STRUGGLE/HUSTLE that we can all sometimes face.
Building Your Brand
The final truth about launching a business that no one really talks about is BRANDING.
It’s literally one of the most important parts of being a business owner and differentiating yourself – yet it’s something that most of us struggle with.
Forcing yourself into a neutral, outsider perspective so that you can really identify what you want your business to be can be tricky. Your logo, tagline, colors, voice, target audience, and so many other factors can influence how you want to set up your brand. How do you even get started?!
And, as most of you already know, I’m a HUGE advocate for working with a professional when you need a little bit of extra guidance.
For me, I’ve invested so much time, energy, and personal finances into this process of figuring out who I am, where I belong, what I love to do, who I love to serve, and what my niche is. Yet building a brand wasn’t something that came naturally.
After all, how do I narrow down all of the skills and opportunities I help my clients with while avoiding sounding like I’m overly confident OR letting that pesky imposter’s syndrome get the best of me?
I STILL work one-on-one with a business coach, and I invest in freelance support for other aspects of the business. I LOVE working 1:1 with my team and we all help each other be successful and keep going despite the hurdles we may encounter.
For me, figuring out how to best navigate being a business owner was all about staying true to myself, rolling with the punches, and creating a fantastic network of other professionals along the way.
And, it’s my hope, that each and every one of you reading this can achieve your highest level of career satisfaction, personal goals, and feel the same way about your career that I do.
Let’s be clear: I don’t have it all figured out. Actually, VERY far from it. It takes a friggin village to make RX Ashlee function – and an even bigger village to manage my personal life.
Every single day I am working on being my BEST SELF, and to me, that is my definition of success. Continuously learning on how to level up my own career, and trying my damn best to be a supportive wife and loving mom.
So, on that note, if you are ready to commit to a professional career (and life!) you’ve always dreamed of, what is holding you back from doing the THING?
….Because, my friend, YOU DESERVE THIS!