Done With Corporate Politics? The 4 Steps To Starting a Business Before You Escape the 9-5.

Steps to starting a business, Stephanie Holland, The Freedom Philosophy

You’ve thought about it. You’d love to do it. And even though you can’t quite put your finger on what it might be… it excites the crap out of you.

I’m talking about starting your own business.

If it offered you a work-life balance and a good standard of living you’d sign up on the spot.

And that’s it right there.

The cold icy finger of doubt that slides slowwwwwly up your neck as you sit at your desk and whispers:

“What if I’m not good enough, creative enough, smart enough?”

“What if I risk everything and end up with nothing to show for it?”

“What if I bankrupt myself and have to crawl back to my old job because I’m barely scraping by?”

“I don’t even know where to start!”

Because you’ve often fantasied about living & working on your own terms.

But is it really financially viable?

You want to be your own boss; you want to be able to work the hours that suit you, in the spaces that suit your working style (cafe, kitchen table, park, shared office space etc).

But can you actually earn enough money to not feel like you are a college student again, and can you be successful and not kill yourself in the process?

You hear these stories about business failure, people working themselves to the bone, going back to their former jobs or careers because they’re just scraping by.

But there’s a Chinese proverb that goes…

The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you’re about to succeed.

Let that sink in for a moment.

And you’ll realise you’re asking the wrong questions.

The only question you should be asking is this:

How can you set yourself up to stay in the game until you get the results you’re looking for?


Every single successful startup has one of those trajectories that fluctuate wildly until they ‘make it’.

You know the squiggly line you see from A to B.

And the way to stay in the game until you get the results you’re looking for is not inordinate amounts of money.

It’s time and energy.

And you generate time and energy from your mindset and lifestyle.

You generate time and energy from your mindset and lifestyle.


The only difference between those who quit and those who succeed is mindset and lifestyle.

And let me re-iterate: iteration, innovation and changing trajectory is part of the process and is 100% the opposite of turning your back on your dreams.

And heading back to the corporate to cash up to start again is smart and strategic and admirable. I’ve done it. Many times. Or working three jobs part time. That’s good, too.

And many people you’ve categorised as successful have too.

It all comes down to your mindset and lifestyle.

So not surprisingly the first 4 steps to starting a business are not the business strategies and tactics your might expect. Or desire.

Start with the business stuff and you’ll likely end up in the startup graveyard within 18 months like 80-90%* of startups do owing to founder burnout. (*Forbes & Bloomberg).

Start with the real strategic imperatives instead: mindset and lifestyle. So you can stay in the game until you get the results you’re looking for.

Here are the 4 Steps To Starting a Business Before You Escape the 9-5.

These steps literally take you from corporate employee to fledgling entrepreneur.

#1: Get in charge of your own life.

You’ve gotta shift away from employee mindset to a leadership position and start calling the shots. If you’re not the CEO of your own life how are you ever going to be CEO of your own business?

You’ve got to:

  • Get focused on the exact practices, activities and tasks that will get you the results you’re looking for. Set aside at least 2 hours a week to envision the life you want or start brainstorming ideas. Use these 3 tricks to startup on the side while you’re working full time.
  • Accept that you’ll never have all the time & money that you think you need and instead be resourceful: leverage what you’ve got for now and just get started. Any way you can.
  • Start every day as you mean to finish. The first 2-5 hours are your peak productivity, so don’t waste it on your day job. Starter earlier to work on your own ideas.
  • Set up your schedule so you don’t work 24-7. Stop using your calendar to schedule your busyness and start using it to schedule rest, play, creativity, self care, meditation, exercise, and down time. And sleep! You can’t create anything if you’re burnt out.
  • Learn how to work with focus and efficiency. Train yourself out of your bad habits of procrastination and killing time or you’ll bring all these bad habits into your own business with you. (Believe me when I say this takes time so why not do it on someone else’s dime?)

I call this first step Conscious Leadership.

#2: Get fit, strong & healthy

Burnout threatens not only your ideas but YOU. A strong body, mind, heart and spirit are your most powerful business building assets.

  • Tune in to your body, mind, heart and spirit. What do they need? Where are you falling short? Fill the gaps. Body, mind, heart and spirit intelligence are entrepreneurial dynamite.
  • Your creative inspiration, productivity and lifestyle don’t run well on autopilot. They are rhythms. Pay attention to how they beat and align with them to you can show up the best in the world at what you do. (Nod to Marie Forleo for drumming this into me for the last 4 years.)
  • Learn how to breathe. No joke. It’s possible to use the rate and rhythm of our breath to affect our mental and emotional state. Can you imagine how powerful a tool that is for life and business?
  • Learn how to sleep. Everything you do from the moment you wake up ’til your head hits the pillow determines your sleep. Liver better, sleep better. Sleep better, live better.
  • Nourish yourself. Your body is a machine and it will fall apart if you don’t fuel it with the most nourishing, vitalising, energising foods & liquids. Undernourished body = lacklustre ideas and burnout. Avoid at all costs.

I call this second step Personal Sovereignty.

#3: Use failure as a tool to shape the future

Your first idea will likely fail. Make peace with that. The core fibre of an entrepreneur is earned through iteration and swift changes in trajectory. It’s a future-building tool. Welcome it.

  • Accept that you are not your idea. They live through you, but they are not you. Ideas fail, people don’t.
  • Use the success of others to inspire you not dwarf you. Stand on the shoulders of giants, but stay on track with your own life, impact and legacy.
  • Love your critics. Use the negative to understand the world. Use the positive to understand yourself. Loop it all back into your work.
  • Use failure as a set of results. “So… when I did this, this happened. So… what if I do this instead?”
  • Keep showing up, even when no one else does. Tap into your relentless, courageous, persevering, stubborn Self (A lot of what people criticise you for are your most powerful assets.)

I call this third step Failure-Proof Mindset.

#4: Know what you want

Business is simply a tactic for getting what you want. Know what you want and you won’t ever forget why you started ‘this’ in the first place or have to face spiritual bankruptcy, the leading cause of depression in our startup community. (Bloomberg didn’t say that. I did.)

  • Set high-integrity goals that align with your real motivations so you can stop choosing from the same menu at the same restaurant as everyone else. (House, car, kids anyone?)
  • Upgrade your life right now. When you know what you want you don’t have to rush your ideas to success because tiny tweaks can make you happier. (Want a penthouse in Long Island? Start with a casita in Mexico.)
  • Get really clear on how the world was different because you were here. A short term mindset doesn’t change the world or your life. Elevate yourself from the minutiae of life and work with a clear vision of your impact and legacy.
  • Get to know your thinking. Thinking can twist your reality to such a degree that can make the difference between unstoppable or impossible. Master your mind. Please.
  • Take a good hard look at your community and re-structure it to support you so you can get out of that uncomfortable little round hole.

I call this final step Conscious Leadership.

If you’re curious to learn more, this is what I teach and what my business is all about.

I take you from corporate employee to fledgling entrepreneur in 4 weeks

with my multimedia course The Freedom Philosophy.

What are your questions or greatest fears around these steps to starting your own business? Drop me an email!


How would you like the clarity to flesh out your ideas and the tools to create a concise plan that propels you towards your startup vision?

Stephanie Holland Marketing Consultant

Hey, I'm Stephanie. And I'm your greatest ally.

I've mastered the art of turning an idea into a vision that can be reverse engineered into the immediate next steps, and this is what I share with you.

Find about more about my one-off, 4-week and 8 week strategy sessions, or send me a note and we can connect for a 15 min call to discover how I might be able to work with you to bring your idea to life.

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Other posts in the Startup Strategy series:

3 tricks for finding time to startup on the side

12 reasons to take a leap of faith and work for yourself

5 tools you'll need when moving beyond the corporate 9-5

4 steps to starting a business before you escape the 9-5

Forget a business plan; write a business clarity plan instead

Image by Still Miracle via Unsplash

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