My journey to entrepreneurship started at a very young age. My dad owned his own company, and I was an employee, paid in-kind with my favorite compensation: fruit roll-ups and Ruffles chips. I answered phones with my squeaky 6th-grade voice and watched my dad create something he was proud of. So naturally, I wanted to do the same, and after a path through nursing for over 11 years, I still wanted it. I left the bedside less than a year ago, and there are lessons that I have learned from leaving and new appreciations that I hadn’t previously considered. If you have a passion for entrepreneurship, you can do it, but consider these points before deciding:
- Leaving the bedside for entrepreneurship is not a “break”.
If you’re burned out, entrepreneurship may not be the right option. When you leave the bedside, you are trading one stress in for a new kind of stress. The entrepreneurship stress doesn’t end when you “clock out.” It’s a 24/7 grind for a long while until you can set yourself up for success. There’s no right answer here. All jobs are stressful, and you need to find the stress that is healthy for you. This answer is different for everyone.
- Consider your personal non-professional goals and how they align.
I urge you to consider what you want out of your life holistically. Your professional endeavors are just one aspect that makes you who you are. Your happiness involves family, friends, children, travel, and cooking. Life is not meant to be stuck in an office or on a unit indefinitely, so find the professional path that ultimately aligns with your personal goals. You may need to give up some of your time to get there but consider it a short-term compromise for long-term gains if you strategize properly.
- Nurses make the best entrepreneurs.
There are so many reasons why I believe nurses make the best entrepreneurs. We are resilient, and we have seen and dealt with the unthinkable. We solve problems. We don’t give up. And honestly, there is no worse day than experiencing the loss of life; with that perspective, you can accomplish anything.
- You will miss the bedside.
As shocking as this might seem, given the current climate in healthcare, nursing is an identity, and while many colleagues tell me I am “still a nurse,” there is a transition period that leaves you feeling a little lost. Funny enough, what I have learned through this process is that placing so much of your identity into any one thing is unhealthy, and although it feels comfortable, there are drawbacks.
- Do your homework.
Leaving the bedside is not an easy decision to make, let alone for an entirely new frontier. Figure out what you are interested in and contact every person who may help you find the answers you need to decide. Go on LinkedIn and ask for informational interviews. Direct message people on Instagram. Do all of the research you need to do before you leave. I probably spent two years passively researching my interests before I made this move.
While these recommendations are not meant to scare you from leaving the bedside, they are things I wish someone would have told me. Entrepreneurship has been one of the most stressful, exciting, fun, intense, and difficult endeavors I have faced. It is much like becoming a new graduate nurse, freshly minted to tackle the world. Of course, anything new in life is stressful, but it’s important that you set yourself up for success before making the big move.