Skip to main content

Creating a Career I Love: My Path to Becoming an Entrepreneur

I wrote this piece when I launched my first startup, BOULD and a few months after having my son. In the months that followed our launch, my co-founders and I decided to pivot the business. I’m sharing this post here because it speaks to pushing forward when you have a great need to pursue a certain path. 

Life is busy. Five months ago, I was blessed with a little boy named Asher Finn. He’s beautiful, funny, charming, and some days more exhausting than I could have ever imagined.  When Asher was born, I took 11 weeks of maternity leave, and both my husband Evan and I spent most of our days feeding, changing, soothing, cleaning, doing laundry, and simply learning how to care for our little guy.

During this time, I was (and still am) working full time in business development at the Associated Press while also working to re-launch and grow BOULD.

When Asher was born in March, the 2015 strategy for BOULD wasn’t yet established.  We still didn’t have a website, and I didn’t know that both of my co-founders would be officially rejoining BOULD. All I knew was that BOULD was my second baby and that it needed nurturing. Therefore, a couple of weeks into maternity leave, I slowly picked up my work with BOULD: taking calls, planning out the next events and workshops, setting the strategy on where to take the growing community and business, and reforming the partnerships with my co-founders. I had also scheduled weekly calls with my coach from The Coaching Fellowship,Aurelie Vincent. I knew before Asher arrived this was going to be an overwhelming time, so I tried to plan ahead by applying to a coaching program. Being accepted into The Coaching Fellowship was a blessing. (Read here on my trans-formative experience with coaching.)

After 11 weeks of maternity leave and working on BOULD from home (in between feedings and naps), I went back to the AP full time. Returning back to work has been an adjustment. I have yet to find the balance of managing motherhood, working successfully at the AP and growing BOULD. Despite the challenges of making everything work, I feel it’s more important than ever to follow my gut, and that is pushing me forward with growing BOULD. Below is why I feel the need to become an entrepreneur, all the while working full time and raising a family.

Oh “Passion” Where Art Thou?

As I advanced in my twenties, I had a strong desire to create. From an assistant media planner to a communications supervisor to a corporate business manager, I knew I wanted to do something big; but, I didn’t know what that was. At work, I would be engaged until I learned the job, then I’d quickly slip into boredom if things weren’t changing fast enough. I always struggled to find my “passion.” After all, if I got bored quickly, this job couldn’t be my “passion” even if I did like it at first. (Or so I concluded because I had no idea how to adjust my perspective at that time.)

As a solution to my confusion, I sought to guide myself. I started reading countless books on career, personality and finding your passion (i.e. What Color is Your Parachute?). I even bought and attempted to find answers in “The Big Book of Jobs” (yes, you read that right…it exists!). I then decided to spend about $400 on a self-assessment test that told me any career in journalism, marketing or academia would make me happy. Excellent! Now what? It was useful information that left me even more confused – do I transition from media planning to one of these professions? Which one do I pick? And, how do I even go about making this transition when I have already spent three years in media? What will the consequences be?

Eventually, after spending the majority of my twenties trying to figure out what I wanted to do, I decided to enroll in the MBA program at Baruch College, Zicklin School of Business. It was accidental that I found I was absolutely in love with business.  I chose an MBA when I didn’t know what else to do (more on getting a graduate degree in future posts). I always loved learning, and in my MBA classes, I realized I had a thirst for finance, marketing, entrepreneurship, strategy, operations…the list goes on. For me, business brought the opportunity to be creative and to solve problems. It also presented the opportunity to create, a deep interest I knew came from within. By the age of 29, I finally felt a little less tortured about finding my “passion.” But, if only I had known this sooner…

My Twenties Were Tough So Yours Don’t Have to Be

The realization that it took me seven years to find work in which I thrived couldn’t escape me,  especially as I met my co-founders-to-be April and Laura. In my conversations with the amazing women at Baruch, I noticed I wasn’t the only one who struggled in the early years of her career.  Laura held a series of jobs in event planning and marketing before finally transitioning to tech. April was very successful in managing a team of 120  people and receiving a very healthy paycheck, yet  she felt unsettled in her career choices and decided to bravely start over in her late twenties.

Today, most adults are not happy going to work just to receive a paycheck. We want to be engaged, find meaning and to make an impact in the world. – Tweet It!

I see some young professionals who have found this after a long quest, but others are still struggling.

Thanks to ever changing media and technology, there is  a wealth of content and career resources available. To name a few, I’m especially a big fan of The Muse, Clarity on Fire, Tiffany Mason Coaching and Consulting,DailyWorth, Marie Forleo, 40:20 Vision, James Clear and James Altucher .These resources are providing guidance and answers for young professionals, and helping to empower women whether at work or in their personal lives.

The wealth of information and guidance that is out there is invaluable. However, there is A LOT out there. How do young professionals know what to choose? Women especially are still struggling in landing leadership positions and finding a safe space to discuss and overcome their issues – from leading with confidence to negotiating a raise. Where should they go to find a place that provides meaningful connections and support? Career support is not a one-size fits all. Everyone faces different issues and there is a specific solution for each individual.

We’re working on this solution at BOULD. To date, we’ve hosted a series of events and workshops. After each experience, BOULD attendees have approached us to thank us because now they negotiated a promotion into their contract. Others have told me they now feel more confident working with men and advocating for themselves.  These comments are enough reason for me to keep going, turn on my laptop at 9 p.m. after Asher is asleep and after I’ve had dinner with Evan, and continue working on a business that will help others create careers they love – a career in which they feel engaged and empowered. I’m already seeing the impact with a number of events and workshops. I really would love for us to do more!

Practicing What I Preach: Creating a Career I Love for Myself

I love a challenge. To me, starting and growing a business is a challenge I want to conquer. I have not yet felt bored with BOULD. On the contrary, I have grown more than I ever have as it has allowed me to take risks. From speaking to large groups (I still get nervous about this one), to putting together engaging workshops, to coming up with a workable revenue model to learning digital marketing, BOULD keeps me on my toes.

Additionally, BOULD is giving me the opportunity to become the woman I want to be. And who exactly is that? I want to be a leader, a thinker, an independent woman living an authentic life and in control of my own day-to-day. Right now, I am reading James Altucher’s Choose Yourself. He is speaking my language.  He talks about taking control of your career. When you hear the word “no” so many times and you struggle frequently  to find what you love, just create it. That’s what I’m trying to do right now. This is excellent motivation to keep going, even when life gets busy.

Finally, BOULD gives me the opportunity to do work with meaning and to give back. I spoke at length about our generation looking for passion at work. Helping others address issues that once held me back, gives me tremendous fulfillment. There are few things more inspiring than working with the next generation of leaders who are motivated and looking to create careers they love – whether that’s being the next CEO, an artist or a stay-at-home parent with a side gig.

Parenting By Setting an Example

People told me, but I didn’t really believe it until I experienced it. Having a child is life-changing. I tried to prepare myself, so before Asher arrived, I wrote down the type of parent I want to be. Here goes:

  • Allow my child freedom to be himself, while creating boundaries.
  • Be compassionate.
  • Be present.

It’s a short list, but I use this as a guide when things get tough, especially when I feel myself worrying too much about everything.

When Asher is older, what I want for him most besides health and overall happiness, is for him to be empowered to make his own decisions and to listen to the guiding voice deep down. It’s not the career I choose that will inspire him to take risks to do what he loves; rather, I hope that it’s my decision to follow my gut during this very busy time.

Starting a company when I already work full time and have a newborn may raise a lot of questions, especially to a potential investor or other parents. I know even those who love me most sometimes don’t understand why I’m choosing to keep so busy. Let me just say, being so busy is not what I like about becoming an entrepreneur. In fact, it’s a constant struggle to feel like I’m not doing any one thing to the best of my ability. Despite the challenges, becoming an entrepreneur is what feels right.  When Asher is older, I don’t want him to focus on what he “should do,” but rather what he feels is right and what empowers him most to reach his full potential. Maybe that’s starting a business, or maybe it’s being a stay at home dad.

We Will See What is To Be

Growing a business is very uncertain to say the least. The long days, the stress, and time spent away from Evan and Asher (this is the most difficult part for me to cope with) may not result in a thriving business. And all the hours we’re spending creating a 2015 strategy, a marketing plan, classes, partnerships…none of it may lead into the beautiful, impactful, scalable company we envision BOULD to be. If that is the case, that will hurt, but, it’s ok.

In the end, if the business doesn’t turn out how we planned, at least we made an impact on the lives of a handful of young women. Furthermore, I now have the opportunity to create, to learn, to put myself out there and let myself be more vulnerable than ever before. If it doesn’t succeed, I’ll just pick myself up and try again.

Belma McCaffrey

Author Belma McCaffrey

More posts by Belma McCaffrey

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Close Menu