#23: Career Crossroads: Navigating Job Changes and Entrepreneurial Ventures

Have you had entrepreneurship on the brain?

On this episode of the Design Imposter, Jessica and Monique discuss corporate work culture, feeling validated in your work, and acknowledging the budding entrepreneur within.

Learn how to recognize the potential of being your own boss, how to prepare to break away from your “traditional career,” and launch into leadership and BYOB. 

You don’t need to be a designer to appreciate the duo’s insights and vulnerabilities. 
For those contemplating the switch, tune in!

Episode References


Signs It’s Time to Quit Your Job

Discussion covers common signs it’s time to leave a corporate job, including lack of professional growth, misalignment with company values, and toxic work environments. Stories are shared about troubling experiences with sexual harassment, inappropriate manager behavior, and lack of responsible HR responses.

Transitioning to Entrepreneurship

Advice provided on transitioning to entrepreneurship includes having a support network, being financially prepared, developing an exit strategy, setting realistic goals and not undervaluing yourself as a beginner. Tips also cover legal structures, accounting, paying yourself, and more.

Importance of Networking and Community

Emphasizes networking and community for getting clients, partners, referrals and moral support. Also discusses risks of isolation as a remote entrepreneur and finding balance between professional networking and personal life demands.

Allowing Yourself Grace and Time

Cautions against putting too much pressure on yourself as a new entrepreneur and comparing yourself unfairly to others. Success often takes years to build so set realistic growth goals and don’t expect overnight results.

Action Items

  • Analyze current job for growth opportunities, value alignment and signs of toxic culture over next month
  • Research legal structures, accounting needs and payroll options for future business venture
  • Make list of key personal and professional contacts to engage as community support system
  • Develop tentative quarterly growth targets for first 2 years of entrepreneurship
  • Pick 2 target reader communities and analyze values, concerns and objections


Monique Jenkins: Welcome to the Design Impostor Podcast, the show where we explore the enigmatic world of impostor syndrome through the lens of design, community, and empowerment. I’m Monique Jenkins. 

Jessica Valis: And I’m Jessica Valis. We’re your co -host for the show and the founders of the Creative Circle Collective, a design agency that strengthens community links for nonprofits and corporate businesses by creating powerful brands and websites. 

Monique Jenkins: On this podcast, we bridge the gap between design and impostor syndrome, sharing relatable stories, insights, and practical advice that empowers designers and business owners just like you to conquer self -doubt and unleash your true potential. 

Jessica Valis: Join us as we explore the relationship between design, community, and creativity. Welcome to Design Impostor. 

Monique Jenkins: Welcome to the Design Impostor podcast. I’m Monique Jenkins. And today we’re going to be talking about career crossroads. So what happens when you get laid off from your job or if you want to phase into a new career in entrepreneurship. 

Jessica Valis: especially if you are thinking about quitting your job and the important signs that it’s time. 

Monique Jenkins: So what are some of the signs that it’s time for you to quit your job? 

Jessica Valis: Well, first and foremost is the personal dissatisfaction you have from your job. If you just hate going in, if you dread it, if you’re not, not just that you’re having fun at your job, but you know, there’s just no, you don’t get anything out of it. 

Jessica Valis: I used to drive into work thinking, what am I doing with my life? Like who am I helping? Who am I serving? If you don’t have that answer, it’s probably time to move on. Another one is professional growth and stagnation. 

Jessica Valis: So if you’ve reached the top of your game in your position and there are no other, you know, steps to take up, nobody will allow you to step up. There’s no room for lateral changes. That is probably time to go. 

Jessica Valis: Another big one is the toxic work environment, which I think everybody can say they’ve experienced before where corporate is like high school. 

Monique Jenkins: Mm -hmm. 

Jessica Valis: You’ve got the back talking, or the behind the back talking, the gossip, jealousy, just, it’s total mean girls out there. 

Monique Jenkins: Yeah, I think that I’ve probably experienced all of those at one company. I recently got laid off, which was actually a really good thing, because it gives me the latitude to work on our business and endeavor and focus my effort fully. 

Monique Jenkins: But I think that probably about a year ago, I started to feel just dread about the whole situation. It just became very much of a space where there was a lot of gossip, there was just a lot of foolishness, and it didn’t feel well worth it. 

Monique Jenkins: And I’m a person who truly invests themselves in the company that I’m in. Also, I knew it was time to leave because the majority of meetings on my calendar were just meetings with my coworkers for them to vent. 

Monique Jenkins: They weren’t anything about us talking about work. We were literally booking meetings on our calendar just so that people could be like, oh my God, I’m so sick of these people. Just talk me down. And that’s what a majority of my meetings became. 

Monique Jenkins: It’s just like, hey, just give me 30 minutes so you can talk me off the ledge, because I’m about to lose it, and then we can go back to normal. And I found that to be incredibly disconcerting. Super amazing from a community -building aspect because I’m still friends with all those communal hate. 

Monique Jenkins: We’re building a community. But I just kept thinking in my head, I just can’t believe how much of myself is going into a company that no longer serves the values that I think that they had at the beginning of my experience. 

Jessica Valis: So there’s a fourth thing that I didn’t get a chance to mention, which was the misalignment of values. So when you’re evaluating your personal values and comparing them to the company and you find that like maybe there’s ethical concerns or things that just don’t align, like for me I had this HR incident where somebody had made a sexual gesture with me and it went up to HR and they didn’t get let go even though we worked in the same office. 

Jessica Valis: And it was incredibly vulgar what they did. So that was a big indication on the priority of the company that they would rather keep this person than bring somebody else in and spend the money to train them. 

Monique Jenkins: Wow, I’ve had a similar experience. Mines wasn’t about like sexual vulgarness, but it was wildly inappropriate. My manager at the time came into the office sloshed, like full on intoxicated, like fell in the hallway. 

Monique Jenkins: I had to like shush her out of the building, opened up her purse. There were wine bottles in there. It was like mine was like nine o ‘clock in the morning. It was really ridiculous. I like spent, she came in and she was like, hey, I was like, hey. 

Monique Jenkins: And I was like, hmm, that’s interesting. She wasn’t as cordial all the time. And then I could tell that she was drunk and I was like, oh my God, I got to get this woman out of the building. So I was trying to like shush her to like the elevators. 

Monique Jenkins: I’m like, come on, let’s go. I’m like, she’s sick. She needs to go home. She had a bunch of meetings that day that I needed to cover for her for. Got her to the elevator door. Of course, the fricking like exec of marketing or something like that, the like M team leadership or the big corporate guys were like having a meeting in a very glass room. 

Monique Jenkins: We walked to the elevators and she falls, like falls to the ground, just like passes out basically. And they are all looking. But before she did that, marketing guy was coming towards her. She’s like, hey, Bob, we need to talk about something. 

Monique Jenkins: And literally for probably like five minutes, we all stood there looking at each other. And she never said a word. Like she was like, we need to talk about something. And then nothing, like nothing came out of her mouth. 

Monique Jenkins: We’re literally standing there. I was like, well, I sure as hell don’t know what you were gonna say. So we’re just like standing there looking at each other. And then eventually he was like, okay, well, I got to go to a meeting and walks away. 

Monique Jenkins: Soon as he goes in the room and close the door, he says something, they turn around and look at us. And she buckles, falls. And I like catch her like this. I drag her into the elevator. I had to get one of the marketing managers to Uber with her because she was way too intoxicated to be by herself to get her home. 

Monique Jenkins: And then she ghosted us for like two weeks. Didn’t hear from her. Busy as time. And then did she come back? Yep, came back. Everyone acted like nothing happened. Like of course the couple execs came up to me and were like, hey, is everything okay? 

Monique Jenkins: I’m like in my head, I was like, of course not. You literally just saw what happened. Nothing’s okay. And they were like, is she not feeling good? I’m like, I don’t know. She seemed to not be doing well. 

Monique Jenkins: I didn’t. 

Jessica Valis: I think that’s a huge thing with corporations is they lack, or they fail to see when somebody’s having a mental crisis. I remember coming into work and I would just be, this was before I was on depression medication or anything. 

Jessica Valis: I would come into work and I would just having like a depressed spell. I didn’t want to talk to anybody. I just wanted to go sit at my desk and do my work and not be bothered. And they’d be like, well, Jess is in a bad mood today. 

Jessica Valis: And then they’d go talk to the manager about it. And they’d be like, well, you’re not a team player. Yeah. I’m like, I just, I was just having a moment of being human. 

Monique Jenkins: Okay. Yeah. No, it never happened like that. Like those, those issues with that manager were never addressed. And then subsequently, like I went on to, I was like, this is not a safe environment for me to be in. 

Monique Jenkins: And I later left and went to another organization. She stayed there for probably another year, year and a half or whatever. And subsequently succumbed to the drinking and passed away. Oh, okay. But I was like, this was a real issue that no, like ever, apparently everyone knew about it and no one said anything to me. 

Monique Jenkins: I don’t know any alcoholics. So they were like, unique. You didn’t smell the alcohol. I’m like, I don’t know what alcohol smells like. I’m 18 years old. I’m not supposed to be drinking. I’m a square. 

Monique Jenkins: Like I have nothing. They’re like, you don’t smell like the alcohol on her breath. You don’t know that she disappears for long periods of time. It’s like, yeah, she, I assume she’s in a meeting. Like you never saw her taking socky bombs downstairs. 

Monique Jenkins: This is DC. So you can drink, you can drink, you can buy alcohol, like CVS and things like that. And I’m like, no, I was like, I just thought she was crazy. If I’m being honest, I’m like, she would be in the office. 

Monique Jenkins: She started banging her keyboard on the desk and stuff like that. And I was like, she’s a very emotional boss, but I never like, it never crossed my mind that something was wrong. 

Jessica Valis: know, this would be a really good way to say like, if corporate or I’m sorry, if management was like, Monique, why didn’t you recognize the signs as if it’s your fault? And then all of a sudden they begin to scapegoat on you. 

Jessica Valis: And this was something I experienced at my first internship when I was doing marketing and PR, which I decided very quickly, I did not want to do ever again. We had to send out this videotape for a promotion to like a news channel. 

Jessica Valis: I put it in a spring break. I go to England for a week. I come back and I’ve got all these voice messages about why was the FedEx envelope opened and the tape missing. I’m like, I have no clue. I was in England. 

Jessica Valis: It was FedEx. It was certified male. Yeah. And from that point on, everything that went wrong within the department was my fault. Yeah. And horribly toxic. I don’t, I never put that on my resume. Yeah. 

Jessica Valis: That job because it, I was like, no. Yeah. 

Monique Jenkins: I just, I think that the signs that we’re referring to can come in very casual settings. It could be very minute. I think that some of it is not as apparent as being drunk in the office or overtly having this sexual harassment. 

Monique Jenkins: I think some things are just very minute. And I think back to a younger me and was thinking she would bang her keyboard on a desk and no one saw that as being problematic behavior and she never got called up by each other. 

Monique Jenkins: Oh yeah, that was the thing. 

Jessica Valis: happened at my job too. 

Monique Jenkins: I was like, and that was crazy, that was crazy. This is when I invested in noise canceling headphones and I didn’t really turn the music up because I worked in a newsroom so I just like put my headphones on and I was like, I don’t care, I’m just gonna do what I gotta do. 

Monique Jenkins: But I was like, there were so many small minute things where she would like snap at me or she’d be like, you don’t know how to do this. It only takes like five minutes to do this. I’m like, I’m a junior designer. 

Monique Jenkins: I don’t know that this takes five minutes to do because you’ve never shown it to me. But there were very obscure kind of things that I certainly were like, something’s wrong with this. But it wasn’t until she actually passed out in the hallway that I was like, oh no, they don’t care about her behavior. 

Monique Jenkins: And then that’s when coworkers out of the woodwork would come and be like, oh Monique, you didn’t see her passed out on the lunchroom table two weeks ago? What? She was what on the lunchroom table? Yeah, she passed out upstairs in the cafeteria. 

Monique Jenkins: Everyone was there. What are you talking about? Why didn’t anyone come to me and be like, hey, are you okay? Because we see that this behavior is not acceptable and we want to check and make sure. I’m like this, I’m a her direct report. 

Monique Jenkins: So I think that, you know, all of that to say there’s definitely signs that you need to move on from a company. Some of them can be very, very obscure. Some of them are being able to be very transparent. 

Monique Jenkins: I think that mentally where that kind of comes in mind was there was a lot of imposter syndrome when I was at that stage in my career. So I thought I needed someone. She was an incredible and phenomenal designer. 

Monique Jenkins: I will not take that away from her. She was amazing. However, that was the time when I started to realize how many issues, like mental issue, not mental, I don’t want to say it like that, but how many, what’s the best way to frame this? 

Monique Jenkins: How much depression and psychological issues play a part in designers’ everyday lives. Like I am abnormal as a designer, I think for a lot of people because like, I don’t have a drinking problem and mentally, I feel like I’m okay most days and I don’t have a bunch of piercings and tattoos and I don’t do this. 

Monique Jenkins: Not that piercings and tattoos are a sign of mental health. No, no, no, no, no. But just like, that’s what I heard people like associate with like mental health issues as a designer. It’s like, oh yeah, you’re not really a designer money because you don’t have like 50 tattoos and you don’t have sleeves and you don’t do this and you don’t do that. 

Monique Jenkins: And I was like, well, not every designer has all of those things, but that instance, relatively young in my career is when I started to realize that people will make it a correlation between design and mental health issues and that I needed to be a lot more protective with like what I counted as acceptable behavior in a corporate setting or environment. 

Monique Jenkins: And when I had to choose my limit, because I feel like at any corporate entity that I’ve probably ever been at in the entirety of my career, no matter if it was a Fortune 500 company or a startup, there are subtle, there are things that you kind of learn are not acceptable behavior and you have to take yourself out of that. 

Monique Jenkins: I’ve never met an HR person for the most part, although I have met some amazing HR people or legalese at companies in general who are like, that behavior is not acceptable and they address it on the spot. 

Jessica Valis: Well you’ll find too that a lot of HR, they’re not looking out for you, they’re looking out for the overall company. So do not think that HR is your ally. They’re not trying to fire people. If anything, if you’re the problem for having problems with certain behavior, then you can go. 

Jessica Valis: Because you’re the person. 

Monique Jenkins: Yeah. 

Jessica Valis: What is it? Denominal factor? What is it? The… It’s on the tip of my tongue. It’s not denominal factor. It’s not singular factor. 

Monique Jenkins: Whatever. It’s our pod. Common denominator! 

Jessica Valis: You are the common denominator. But there’s also another side, which maybe it’s not behavioral, which I had mentioned earlier, which is just growth in the company. I did the same job for nine years. I never did anything different. 

Jessica Valis: When I came on, there was a process in place that took six hours. Within me being at the company, within three months, I had that six -hour process down to three. By the time I left, that three -hour process was down to 20 minutes to an hour because I had streamlined everything. 

Jessica Valis: I sat at my desk and twiddled my fingers and I would go to my manager and be like, is there anything I can learn? Can I take more additional branding things? Can I learn somebody else’s position so I can help out if they’re out? 

Jessica Valis: It was always a no. That’s one of the reasons I pivoted to grad school because I was like, at my current stage, there’s no room for growth. The only way to grow is to get this degree and then maybe do a lateral somewhere else. 

Monique Jenkins: interesting. Yeah, I would say value alignment is incredibly high. And I have to tell people all the time, just because your values align with a company in the beginning of you being there doesn’t mean that it will stay that way. 

Monique Jenkins: I think the values of a company changes over time. So what they might think of as something that’s incredibly important to their overall business structure, as time kind of goes on, you’ll start to figure out if the values that they told you in the beginning, because you know, values always sound good in an interview, it always sounds good, you know, as a little mantra for a company, and it certainly looks good on a company website. 

Monique Jenkins: But as you get into the ether of different organizations, you’ll realize if they live the values that they actually promote, and you’ll figure out if you have value alignment with what their values are. 

Monique Jenkins: So you need your own core set of values that you can measure whatever against, so that you know, this is going to work for me, this is not going to work for me. And then you can do what you need to do. 

Monique Jenkins: Growth is the big one, too. If I, I always tell people, I’m either going to be making a crap ton of money and not learning anything, or I’m going to be learning everything, and I’m not going to be making as much money, but it’s either or I’m never going to take a job where I’m not learning anything, and I’m not making money. 

Monique Jenkins: If you’re going to pay me 300k to just sit in an office, I’ll work on my own stuff, I’ll do what I got to do, I’ll figure out how to learn on my own. But if you’re going to pay me $50 ,000, I’m not going to learn anything, and I’m just going to be sitting there. 

Monique Jenkins: You’re not going to have me for long, I wouldn’t accept a position like that. 

Jessica Valis: Yeah, I think because I was sitting at my desk for so long, not doing a dang thing, I was able to grow and learn and do the design work from the classes and everything. And actually, here’s another toxic trait is that when my manager approved me to go to grad school, the older graphic designer was, she was always intimidated by me and to the point where she wouldn’t share her designs until they were approved. 

Jessica Valis: And nobody would ever consult me, even though I was going to school and I knew best practices. And the day I got approved for grad school, she was in tears and saying how unfair it was. And she wouldn’t talk to me for weeks after that. 

Jessica Valis: And I’m like, all you had to do was ask or figure something out. I’m doing evening classes and weekend classes. Wow. 

Monique Jenkins: I don’t think that anything has ever been that overt for me. One, because you should not test me in that manner. I will get fired. But two, I think that there have always been like snide little like comments and stuff like that, like under your breath or in a break room to someone else, but I’ve never had someone be so overt with like wanting me not to grow. 

Monique Jenkins: Like what did it matter to her if you grew or not in your relative field outside of the fact that she wasn’t doing it for herself, which is a personal problem. So like, I’ve definitely had overt things. 

Monique Jenkins: I did get, I got laid off once and when I was getting laid off, this woman was like, are you gonna cry? And I was like, no. And she was like, why not? And I was like, because I don’t care about this job. 

Jessica Valis: I don’t understand. I’ve already mentally checked out. Yeah, I was. 

Monique Jenkins: I was like, bro, we’re done. You said we’re done. I’m done, we’re good to go. And she was like, oh, I’m just shocked that you’re not gonna cry. And to me, that was like the most overt that anyone has ever been to me. 

Monique Jenkins: Almost an insult. Yeah, I was like, what do you mean? I said, why would I cry? And she was like, well, I just laid you off. And I was like, yeah, and I’m about to go eat pancakes and drink vodka. So we’re good here. 

Monique Jenkins: I’m like, are we done? Let me wrap this up. And anytime I always tell my managers, like even in a joking fashion, and I do mean this, if you’re gonna lay me off, do it in the morning. I don’t wanna be here until five o ‘clock, and then you lay me off. 

Monique Jenkins: That feels stupid to me. Lay me off early in the morning. I can go get my pancakes and vodka and then keep on going about my business. I do not have time to be sitting up in here with you until 4 .55, and then you lay me off at the end of the day after you got a full day’s worth of work. 

Monique Jenkins: Let me go home. Okay. 

Jessica Valis: So I have one more story, and then it’s going to transition into our next part. Okay, so I was at my job, I was so bored, and they were switching from one system to another. It was very obvious my department was going to be shut down. 

Jessica Valis: I was going on maternity leave soon, and they didn’t get me a temp. And I was like, we got a temp for the first pregnancy. Why wouldn’t we get a temp for the second one? So I knew something was coming. 

Jessica Valis: I started to slowly empty my desk out and went away on a week -long staycation. And during the staycation, I was starting to network for my business, Hartford Designs. And so I already knew in my mind, I do not want to be doing this long term, but I’m going to take these opportunities where I have nothing going on at my job to build my other business so I can just navigate away. 

Jessica Valis: And while I was on this vacation, I was actually in a staycation. I was in a networking group. I got outside, and she was like, let go, no emotion, nothing, whatever. I did cry just because my health insurance, but my husband has better health insurance, so it doesn’t really matter. 

Jessica Valis: My 401k. But then that night, we had a networking event, and people were like, oh my God, Jessica, I can’t believe you’re here. I’m like, yeah, what am I going to do? I got to grow my business. I got to get to work. 

Jessica Valis: So this brings me to the next point of how do you know when it’s time to navigate to entrepreneurship? 

Monique Jenkins: So I will say that maybe because of the culture that we are in right this second, it seems like a lot of people are migrating to entrepreneurship. I don’t necessarily think it’s for everyone. If you’re not someone who’s gonna motivate yourself, if you’re not someone who’s gonna be like actively going out there and trying to get it, that is probably not the best thing for you. 

Monique Jenkins: There is beauty in sitting at a desk at a corporation who is paying you over six figures and you just kind of sit in there twiddling your thumbs if that’s what you wanna do. If you’re not interested in learning anymore and you just want the security of a nine to five, absolutely, do what you gotta do. 

Monique Jenkins: But I think that one of the things that you have to realize when you start to get into entrepreneurship or if you’re thinking about that transition is you have to source out where you’re gonna get your money, how you’re gonna get it, what networking looks like. 

Monique Jenkins: You have to validate that your services are actually needed in some market in whatever the organization or whatever your customers are, whatever the case is. I think there’s some sense of passion. I think that you have to be financially prepared. 

Monique Jenkins: If you got laid off, then generally, but not all the time, you’ll get a severance. So that’s a little bit of money to hold you over while you kind of like ponder this idea of whether this is feasible for me. 

Monique Jenkins: But if you didn’t, then unemployment falling quickly, you need to do that, BT dubs, I need to do that. But I think that those are some of the things that I would at least start to think about is like, what do I wanna do for my business? 

Monique Jenkins: Is this scalable over time? Is this something I’m truly passionate about? Because I think that whenever you go into entrepreneurship, your business usually becomes your baby and it becomes like a headache. 

Monique Jenkins: So I love my daughter. She’s amazing, but also she was up at three o ‘clock in the morning last night and I would have preferred someone else be her mother at that particular junction, anybody. And her father was not there to take her. 

Monique Jenkins: So I think that you have to discern for yourself why entrepreneurship is the right path for you and then figure out some practical steps to get you where you’re actually looking to go. 

Jessica Valis: So you’re saying a three -year -old, or I’m sorry, a 3 a .m. wake -up is keeping you from entrepreneurship. Yup. 

Monique Jenkins: A hundred percent. She was up, she was playing. Zuri’s doing this new thing where she screams. It’s like, her doctor is like, she’s finding her voice. Well, she need to find it quieter. Cause I don’t like it. 

Monique Jenkins: But like she literally, it’s from Ms. Rachel too. I’m so tired of Ms. Rachel right now. But Ms. Rachel is like, this is loud and this is quiet. And the loud part, she got that like nobody’s business. 

Monique Jenkins: Although when you say, shh, she goes, shh. So she’ll scream and then she’ll tell other people to shush after she screamed. We got kicked out of the hospital because Zuri was screaming last week. Nice. 

Monique Jenkins: Yeah, I was like, well, I’ll just take my one year old. I was like, I get it. People are recovering. She’s on the floor of being a menace to society. And they were like, yeah, she’s a little quiet. We got some complaints and we just need you to vacate this premises and go somewhere else. 

Monique Jenkins: I was like, look at you get kicked out of hospitals at one. I’m so proud of you, girl. You’re gonna get kicked out of plenty of places. But at least those are some of the things that I think that you need to do is you need to be focused on what you wanna do. 

Monique Jenkins: You need to devise a plan. If entrepreneurship isn’t working for you after three months or six months or nine months, whatever it is, I think there’s nothing wrong with going back into the workforce. 

Monique Jenkins: I also tell people, I personally don’t think that you should quit your job in order to pursue entrepreneurship full time. I think that you can do both. You have to do it in a smarter way because you aren’t able to take up one a .m. 

Monique Jenkins: or a one p .m. call with someone. But I think that the steadiness of your salary will help you pivot to the places that you need to go to. Also, businesses are expensive. You have to buy a lot of things. 

Monique Jenkins: You have to do a lot of things and you need a source of revenue to do that. 

Jessica Valis: Oh, yeah, like with Creative Circle right now, we are getting business cards. We’re getting swag. We’re getting just everything. And it’s expensive. Yeah, competitors. Yeah. And so then you’re using money from your stable job to pay for your entrepreneur job. 

Jessica Valis: So you really have to find a balance. And I’m not going to lie, it’s difficult when you have a family and responsibilities. But what you can do is if you are absolutely hating your job and entrepreneurship has been on your mind for a while, start reading some books, listening to podcasts, and understanding that there is more to starting a business than just getting your first client. 

Jessica Valis: There is the legality of it, the marketing and promotion, finding your first client, all these things at which we’ve talked about in some of our earlier podcasts. But there is a lot that goes into entrepreneurship. 

Jessica Valis: And when you get paid, you don’t just take that money and deposit it right into your bank account. You have taxes still. Ooh, taxes. Do not forget that. 

Monique Jenkins: taxes, those numbers are not friendly. I don’t like it. But yeah, those are things that you need to consider. And I think that what we did was we created like a checklist. So we checked off things as we went. 

Monique Jenkins: So, oh, we need a name for the business. We need to make sure that the URL is available. We need to, you know, trademark it if we want to. We need to go through the process of deciding whether you want to do an S corp or an LLC. 

Monique Jenkins: You need to start creating a logo. You need to start, you know, marketing your business and your services, even if your website isn’t up. You need to secure your Google, my business. You need to, there’s a million things to do. 

Monique Jenkins: And I think that some people think that entrepreneurship could be easy because you’re just your own boss. But like when you work a job, you know, and that job is remote, you can get up at, you know, 903 and get into work or 11 o ‘clock. 

Monique Jenkins: If you don’t have any meetings and kind of do whatever you want to do and you still get a salary. But it’s different. 

Jessica Valis: for designers because we don’t all feel that creative spark at nine o ‘clock in the morning so creatives work really well at night yeah so but at a 

Monique Jenkins: corporation, they don’t care that we work well at night, like your hours are nine to five and you need to be here. But that’s the beauty of entrepreneurship. At three o ‘clock in the morning, if we’re like, oh, I just got this crazy amazing idea, I’m gonna go and aggressively work at that. 

Monique Jenkins: I’m gonna work from three in the morning until 11 a .m. And then I’m gonna take the rest of the day off. You can. 

Jessica Valis: Yeah. While we’re in this transition of merging, uh, Jaykin’s Creative and Harford Designs into Creative Circle, I am still closing out Harford Designs clients and all their small little things that I used to do on a day to day, I’m like, okay, I need to hire somebody now to do this so I can focus on big picture stuff, but I’m not, we’re not at that point where I’m like, okay, time to hire somebody. 

Jessica Valis: Yeah. So then it turns out like I only have time to focus on creative circle when the kids are in bed. Yep. And sometimes you’ll be texting me and I’ve passed out with the kids. And I’m like, no, but like we’ll be working on something and next thing I know it’s one o ‘clock in the morning. 

Jessica Valis: I’m like, I need to go to bed because I wake up at seven. 

Monique Jenkins: Yep. Yeah, I’m still trying to figure out that whole schedule with children thing. I gotta ask you about that. But yeah, I’m like, you know, for me, after Zuri goes to bed, it’s a good time to like focus. 

Monique Jenkins: The house is quiet, it’s amazing. Or coming into the office and like not being around, my daughter, love her though, not being around her or not being around like the hustle of home. Like when you’re home, you just find things to do, or at least I do. 

Monique Jenkins: I’m like, oh, the dishes need to be done. Let me just do that real quick before this, like conference or meeting or whatever the case is. Oh, I can hear Brian in the background, he’s being too loud, he’s playing video games, he’s yelling at somebody about shooting somebody or whatever the case is. 

Monique Jenkins: Let me go get him to quiet down real quick. Oh, the baby wants me. Let me just, you know, go do something for her. Oh, it was lunchtime. And I was like, the day flies by so much more quickly now that I feel like I’m an entrepreneur full time than it ever did when I was in a corporate setting. 

Jessica Valis: I find that those little moments are helpful in resetting. So I can sit at my desk and the next thing I know, it’s three o ‘clock and I gotta go pick up my kids. But God bless the Apple Watch. Her reminded me to stand up once an hour because it’ll be like, okay, I’m gonna stand up. 

Jessica Valis: I will go put the laundry on the line real quick because I still, I’m an old lady and I hang my laundry. When it’s posted. 

Monique Jenkins: You posted that picture on Facebook. I was like, why is she hanging up her laundry? It was the first nice day. 

Jessica Valis: 2024. So I hung up all my laundry on the laundry line. I’m an old lady. Or over the summer or spring, like I will go out to the garden. I’m like, Okay, let me go prune for 10 minutes. And as soon as I’m all bit up by mosquitoes, I come back inside and I get back to work. 

Jessica Valis: And it’s also like my motivation of like, I need to get this done because I do want to go back out to my garden. And I want to spend hours there, not just 10 minutes. So I do appreciate working from home. 

Jessica Valis: But this is my first time in our new office, which Monique secured. And I gotta say it’s impressive. And if I did not live an hour away, I would be excited to drive down to this location. 

Monique Jenkins: about expanding the office space? I’m like, I might. But yeah, I was like, it’s nice sometimes to just be able to like bounce ideas off of each other in a live setting. I think that that’s helpful. But also, sometimes for me, it’s just helpful to put my headphones on and just like work aggressively. 

Monique Jenkins: I’m one of those people who like, if I can like have a snack somewhere, because I need food to like live, but if I can have a snack and I can put my headphones on, I can work for the next like 15 hours without thinking about it. 

Monique Jenkins: I forget about everything else. I forget that I need to go to the bathroom. I forget that I need to eat. I forget everything. 

Jessica Valis: I just like focus. I will be in a zone and like I have had to pee for the past three hours, but God forbid if I get up from this desk because I’m going to lose my mojo or so my husband’s a Baltimore City police officer and he’ll be off randomly in the middle of the week. 

Jessica Valis: And last week he was like, oh, after the kids go to school, do you want to go to the grocery store with me? I was like, no, because it’s going to set me up for failure. So one of the things with entrepreneurship is you do need to focus and if you have too many distractions, you’re just not going to be able to get it done. 

Jessica Valis: So maybe corporate office space is the thing for you. 

Monique Jenkins: Yeah, yeah, I just I think it’s nice to just like remove myself from my family just a smidgen. I just there are so many little moments throughout the day that I enjoy with my daughter. Like I think the best part of being an entrepreneur at this particular junction is being able to like watch her grow and to pick up like new skills and habits, even though she’s screaming right now, is to pick up new things and I could be like, oh, I would have missed that moment if I had to like go to a job nine to five every single day. 

Monique Jenkins: And that’s not what I want. Like I want to watch her grow up. I also want to escape her sometimes, but like for the most part, it’s nice to be able to like take 10 minutes to be like, I want to just go play with my kid. 

Jessica Valis: You know, this is a huge plus, especially for moms out there, especially new moms. Because when you think about like, okay, I’m going to work. My kid’s going to go to daycare daycare is expensive. We were sending two kids to daycare at one point $2 ,600. 

Jessica Valis: I was like, that’s a paycheck and a bit, you know? So I’m paying, I’m going to work to pay for daycare. So I don’t get to see my kids and my money’s gone. 

Evan Dvorkin: Yep. 

Jessica Valis: So, it is nice when you get to set your own schedule, especially as, like I said, a creative, you can work at night and have that family time. What’s a good, how do you know, like, you’ve got a good idea to be an entrepreneur? 

Jessica Valis: Like, oh, I design stuff. 

Monique Jenkins: Yeah, I mean, I always think about like, going back to like, whatever your specific values are, you know, how you wanna think about that in your business. There are a lot of designers out here. Designers on Fiverr, they’re designers on a bunch of different platforms. 

Monique Jenkins: I think you have to figure out, you know, what’s your specific niches for your clients, how you can best assist them. And it has to be something that’s a little bit catchy or like spark, like an idea that kind of sparks for a audience or a client or something like that. 

Monique Jenkins: Like for me, I knew that we specifically wanted to focus on like creating designs that affected change out in the physical space. So one of the things that we haven’t gotten a chance to do yet, but I used to do a lot is do event design. 

Monique Jenkins: And I love the idea of seeing a website transitioned into like a physical space. So like having an event, doing like stage and set design, being able to design like the little pamphlets and brochures and things that people kind of take away and creating an environment where people get to like interact with a more physical space. 

Monique Jenkins: I love web design. I like it. I like, you know, all the digital stuff, but I also like being able to get someone in a physical space and see how they interact with the things, the elements that I’ve put in front of. 

Jessica Valis: I think one of the big values for us with Creative Circle is the community engagement factor. Um, so maybe it’s not for, you know, us getting all of our clients together in one room and making a community, but it’s helping our clients build on their community base. 

Monique Jenkins: But I think that we can leverage that too. One of the things, this is fresh off the pot because I didn’t tell Jessica about this. One of the things that I really would like to do is to be able to create maybe an exclusive Facebook group that we can put all of our clients into so that they can utilize each other’s services. 

Monique Jenkins: I think community in the sense of them connecting with the relative places where they live, that’s an awesome part of community. But community with other businesses that they can leverage for whatever services and stuff like that. 

Monique Jenkins: Even thinking about Evan, we’re talking about, oh, he could do our social media posts, but also, we hate social, so we should pass that off to someone else. If we have clients who come in and are like, hey, we need someone to leverage our social, we certainly can recommend them to someone else that we know is better suited for those services. 

Evan Dvorkin: I’m also happy to white label under you guys. Oh, yeah, absolutely. We love the white label. Yes. You shouldn’t just push them to us. You should make some money off of the social media. 

Jessica Valis: 100% 

Monique Jenkins: Yeah, I always do a 30% markup, sorry. 

Evan Dvorkin: Can you tell us how much you want to make off it? We’ll do reverse percentages. You’ll be like, I want to make this much, and then just reverse it up. And we’ll do it. We’ll work with you however you want. 

Monique Jenkins: Yeah. That’s our producer, Evan Devorkey, by the way. Evan coming in hot. But one of the things that I think is important is community among businesses. I think that we so often pass. I have a friend who has another friend who does event promotion and stuff like that for businesses. 

Monique Jenkins: I’m like, you never told me. You’ve never connected the fact that we both do a very similar thing, that I might need someone to design an event space that I need to curate from a design perspective. But also don’t want to physically go in the space or a project manager or someone. 

Monique Jenkins: I always think it’s really nice to have this idea of community around our clients, because we’re picking clients based on what we think is some sense of value alignment. And if they can align with our values, they probably have very similar value structure to aligning to other clients that we’ve worked with in the past. 

Jessica Valis: Absolutely. Let’s talk about financial preparedness. Now, you were kind of in a similar situation to me, where bored at your job, started working on your other company while still working at your corporate job, got laid off. 

Jessica Valis: And now there’s this pivot to make money. You can’t just, you know, you got to get your first client. So how have you prepared? Since you knew, you knew this layoff was coming. 

Monique Jenkins: I did, but I think that there’s a difference between knowing and being in it. So I knew 100% that it was coming, but mentally preparing for, you ain’t getting no paycheck next week, that was a difficult transition for me. 

Monique Jenkins: So I know one of the things that I did, I shared this with Jessica, is I went through probably a month or two ago, I went through all of the services and stuff like that that I have that are just little things that hit our account that really don’t mean anything and don’t seem to add up too much, that ultimately ended up adding up to $800 a month. 

Monique Jenkins: We were spending on random services. We got Netflix, we got Hulu, we got Dropbox. Didn’t you send me a list? 

Jessica Valis: Like we spent $900 eating out at restaurants this month. 

Monique Jenkins: It’s $1 ,300. We spend about $1 ,300 a month spending eating out. Ridiculous. Like, not saying that we, yeah. We buy groceries too, which is ridiculous. 

Evan Dvorkin: It’s not even even that. M is like in the running phase. I’m on your side with this, but it’s a lot of door dashing these days because I’m too afraid to take her to a restaurant because she won’t sit down. 

Evan Dvorkin: Yep, iPads. 

Jessica Valis: I can’t believe I became that parent. Yeah. Tablets. 

Evan Dvorkin: And I’m not I know I’m such a freakin millennial. I’m not like anti it. I’m just my I always phrase it this way I’m afraid that she’s gonna want it. Yeah, that’s how I phrase it like I’m sure miss Rachel Yeah, I don’t I mean and like I’m just I’m so afraid that she’s gonna want it Yeah, that’s where I try to resist as much as possible 

Jessica Valis: The other thing we do, we alternate if we bring the iPads or if we bring like one of those white boards where like you trace your letters. So again, we try to bring in the educational and you know all about that. 

Jessica Valis: We just started a budget. 

Evan Dvorkin: If you’re looking just I know that you knew that number really quick. It’s called wine app. So you need a budget wine app It was like super 

Jessica Valis: looking for one. 

Evan Dvorkin: Yeah, it’s super highly rated. And it’s called zero dollar budgeting, meaning that every dollar has a task. So no matter what, it has to go somewhere. Even if it’s savings, you can’t let a dollar exist coming into your bank account without it going somewhere. 

Evan Dvorkin: So you knew that number really fast. And I was like, we just started one of these things. Also, it’s good as business owners, because we pay ourselves, which is kind of weird. And I mean it’s weird in the sense that Megan’s car is a bill, it’s not our bill, it’s the company’s bill. 

Evan Dvorkin: But so I didn’t want it on our budget, but we have to see it’s coming out. We have to see how much is leaving our business bank account. How much can we pay us? So with YNAB, you can have, I didn’t find this in Rocket Money, Mint, any of them. 

Evan Dvorkin: You can have your business one and yours. So you can see business bills are paid, we have X left over, we can pay us X. So as entrepreneurs, things to think about when you’re entrepreneurs and whatever and going in, it’s so fricking complicated to pay yourself. 

Evan Dvorkin: So we switched to S Corp. Yep, we just made S Corp. Well, we were in LLCs, switched to an S Corp based on the advice of an accountant. Don’t take this as tax advice, do whatever you’re supposed to do. 

Evan Dvorkin: I’m just telling you the advice we were given. So that way we can write fricking everything off. You guys should put your cars through it. I mean, everything. I mean, paying off my car was just a trash move. 

Evan Dvorkin: Well, I mean, it’s, I mean. 

Jessica Valis: I still have to pay on it, but I just drove it down here to the office today. Yeah, but there’s no 

Evan Dvorkin: reason the companies shouldn’t pay for your vehicle and you know if you’re using it for company stuff most of the time that you pay it through there yeah and stuff like that car insurance mm -hmm that could be yours you know like the more the point is like it’s a good like it’s a separation thing so when you’re thinking about you can’t just like funnel your money from your you need to have a business checking yeah put it in the business checking account super important 

Jessica Valis: in with vital advice. Yes. 

Evan Dvorkin: Yeah, so this is checking because these are the things like you’re like, ah, it’s great. Then they’ll pay me I know they pay your company. Yeah, anyone that’s ever hired Megan or I we never get paid It’s always the company wanted to see easier Confusing if they pay you in the 1099 you and it’s a whole thing. 

Evan Dvorkin: You said W 9 is insane Yeah So you like once you get your LLC established or whatever it is always get your company paid and then you decide how much you pay yourself because you could save on taxes if you can Just funnel a ton of expenses to the company first and then pay yourself as little as you absolutely need to like to survive That’s a good text 

Monique Jenkins: You guys use, like, a payroll software in order to pay yourselves, or you just transfer them? 

Evan Dvorkin: Quick books does have one if you want to keep it all in the family like I love how everything can be quick Yeah, I’m checking all of it. So we use quick books for everything. I was using quick checking I’m bailing on it cuz it doesn’t integrate into my nap. 

Evan Dvorkin: It’s just it’s just annoying That doesn’t matter but like they have their own payroll. So make your life easy You can do that one, but we use and this only based on a recommendation. It’s called Patriot payroll I didn’t do any like research this versus that or anything like that. 

Evan Dvorkin: It was My brothers they have like an accountant like full -time accountant that works with all of his restaurants and her husband has a company and they use Patriot and I Was just like okay. I think it’s like $15 a month Yeah, so what we do is we pay ourselves pay checks through Patriot and then we do distributions Which is just direct deposited through QuickBooks to our bank account, but it’s important that you keep an Excel sheet running Here’s another fun tax thing because you can’t let it be a bigger gap than 60 40 because you do technically pay less tax on distributions Which the government’s like go after yourself so you can you can do up to 60 percent distributions 40 percent payroll Which is nice, but like really if you do a hundred percent distro, that’d be amazing, but you can’t yeah So like we have an Excel sheet running and we just keep it going back and forth and like 60 40 60 to make sure Like it always lines up by the end of the year 

Jessica Valis: you need to send us your spreadsheet minus the, minus the numbers. I mean, it’s not, it’s free download. Give them your email address. 

Monique Jenkins: often offer that we were telling you about it’s the most boring spreadsheet ever just like this 

Evan Dvorkin: payroll this was distro and then you just do a percentage math so you can just make sure you’re not you’re not going to the wrong side of it yeah I’m happy to send this sheet it’s a real boring sheet it’s not that exciting 

Monique Jenkins: You don’t need to send it. I will take it. It’s one formula. 

Evan Dvorkin: So 

Jessica Valis: Evan chiming in was a great example of the next thing you need when you’re starting your entrepreneurial journey, which is creating a support system. Here we are, having a good, engaging conversation. 

Jessica Valis: And then I ruined it and then I left it. I know, Evan the producer jumped in. He had something important to say that you and I would not have, first of all, you took notes. And I’m gonna be asking you for those notes. 

Jessica Valis: So you need to have a good community around you. If, you know, one of the things that was really, and it’s still very difficult for me, is that my mother has never considered my job, my business to be a real job. 

Jessica Valis: No, I cannot talk to her about anything related to my business. And in fact, the other day she said something like, well, maybe it’s time you go back to corporate. And it’s very difficult. But, so I know not to talk about business with her, but my husband has never once through the ups and downs of the business has never once said, you need to go back to corporate. 

Jessica Valis: He will go in for overtime, which is easy when you’re a police officer. He will go in for overtime. But he also understands the value of me staying home because we have the kids. And I don’t know how these parents do it. 

Jessica Valis: When you’ve got to get your kids on the bus, off the bus, you’re paying for aftercare, you’re paying for full -time daycare. So, I mean, really, me working the job that I have, even when we have those really down months, it equates financially. 

Jessica Valis: Um, so again, this just goes back to say like, you know, you need to have somebody who has your back, whether it’s a partner or a best friend who’s always rallying for you, my best friend in Germany. 

Jessica Valis: I was having a down moment and she called me just to say like, you are amazing. You and Monique are doing great things. And she wanted to call just to talk about like an upcoming client call we had and like total cheerleader. 

Jessica Valis: Thank you, Emily. Um, but you have to have people in your corner who support you. 

Monique Jenkins: My friends, less great, Davey, Ty, you know who you are. But Brian is incredible, like he’s like, I’ll pick up a second job, like I’ll do whatever we gotta do to just like make it through, which I’m like, that’s not necessary. 

Monique Jenkins: But I have found that you have to find the right people to have those conversations with. You can’t include everyone in your ideas, you can’t let everyone know about like what’s coming, you just have to prove it. 

Monique Jenkins: And then I think that sometimes when you get to a certain level of proof, then people start to believe that like this is a tangible thing that you can. 

Jessica Valis: The other thing is that you have to remember, just because you start your business today does not mean that by the end of the month, maybe at the end of the year, you’re pulling in the same numbers you made at corporate. 

Jessica Valis: You have to give yourself some leeway. So, I mean, I started my business, three months later, COVID, thank you very much. But the second year, I reached six figures. And if you had been, the first year of COVID, been like, you need to go find corporate, you need to find corporate. 

Jessica Valis: Like, okay, first of all, everyone in America was suffering that year. And then I just needed to build up that base to get to that six -figure mark. But you wanna be gracious with yourself because it might not be year two or three or four. 

Jessica Valis: But you and I, we’ve been working with each other since the very beginning, even when we had our own agencies and we’ve got larger opportunities together than we had separate. So sometimes it takes that, what year is it, 2024 now? 

Jessica Valis: So it took me four years to get to this point where I said, okay, I have enough on my own without having corporate, oh, I did this for so -and -so, this is what I’ve done for myself. And now I’m ready to take it from the $100 clients, which I gave up a long time ago, but the $3 ,000 clients to, no, we’re working with the $50 ,000 clients now. 

Jessica Valis: We’re working with the $100 ,000 clients now. So you need to give yourself your own grace. 

Monique Jenkins: Yeah, I’m way less gracious with myself. I’m like, you need to be making money like now. I think I talked to you the other day, and I was like, I feel poor. Which I’m not, I’m like, I feel poor. But to me, that financial aspect of it, I’m always gonna work harder, because I’m like, you got bills, you got babies, you know diapers are $50 a box. 

Monique Jenkins: So you got stuff that you can do. I’m trying. But I’m like, you have stuff that you can do, but also I think that like, you know, in addition to the thinking about the financial aspect, I do agree with you. 

Monique Jenkins: You’re not gonna be where you are on day one. However, I’ve seen businesses explode over the course of a week or a month or something like that. I think you put your own grind into it. Like I’ve made $80 ,000 in a week with like three clients. 

Monique Jenkins: Because you’re the bomb. But you know, I can’t do that work all by myself. Like I definitely leveraged you. But I’m like, that’s something that happened very quickly, very back and forth. But those are referrals. 

Monique Jenkins: Those are the connections and the mentors and the advisors and whoever else are a part of my circle who like push those clients to me and in my space. Networking is big for me. I do a lot of networking in a bunch of different places. 

Monique Jenkins: But also whenever I leave a job, I never like burn all the, I don’t burn the bridges. Like I go and make sure that like I keep the people who were sacred to me. I ask them for their input and advice. 

Monique Jenkins: I make sure to include them as a part of my process. Because I think that the people that you used to work with are probably some of the same people who will help to drive your business. 

Jessica Valis: You’re going to hate me. I need to insert something from the daily. Six days ago on, what was the date, on the January 25th episode, they talk about the hybrid worker malaise and the value of actually going into work because now that so many people work from home, you’re not getting those connections and you’re not able to advance your career. 

Jessica Valis: You’re not going to the networking events. You don’t have these people who can vouch for you. 

Monique Jenkins: And I do find those stats to be super interesting when that woman was talking. I can’t remember what her name was. 

Jessica Valis: We’ll link it in the show notes, but I thought it was a really interesting podcast because a lot of people, even if, we’re talking about remote workers, but this applies to entrepreneurs too. You can’t just go it alone. 

Jessica Valis: You need to leave your previous job, hopefully on good terms with people, people you can go back to, or build a new network and continue to network, which we had a podcast on as well. And we know it’s not always the easiest thing to do for some people, but you do have to put yourself out there and Monique is an all -star at that. 

Monique Jenkins: I wasn’t always good at it. Speaking of me not being good at things, I will say in the beginning, I think we were telling stories about like, you know, jobs and different places and stuff like that. I got dinged at a job. 

Monique Jenkins: I didn’t get a promotion because they were like, you’re not really like, you don’t really network, you don’t really like chill and vibe with the other people in the office. You don’t really like go to the happy hours and stuff like that. 

Monique Jenkins: And I was like, I just need to get like, I do the work and then I leave. I don’t have to like go have a coffee with you or go drinking and stuff like that. And that was a big part of like the beginning of my career with some hindrance is that my coworkers felt like, you’re amazing, you do all the work, you get all this stuff done, but you don’t like connect with us on a personal level. 

Monique Jenkins: And I was like, so. But I was like, I will say, cause you know, minority, as a black person, the values that are instilled in you are just like, if you work hard enough, you’re gonna get to the place that you need to go. 

Monique Jenkins: What I found being a corporate structure is it’s not about how hard you work, it’s about the connections that you know. In some respects, you gotta work hard, that’s a given. But sometimes I feel like that I have crossed more boundaries by knowing people and networking than I ever have as just like being an effective designer at an organization. 

Monique Jenkins: Oh yeah. 

Jessica Valis: Absolutely. Even though I left Wells Fargo or was let go and I barely interacted with the analysts there outside of like then sending me their reports, they will vouch for me on LinkedIn in a second. 

Monique Jenkins: Yeah. 

Jessica Valis: And I’m like, we talk maybe once a month when you put out your big report, but thank you. You can’t undervalue that. 

Monique Jenkins: Like I’ve had co -workers send me Christmas presents. I don’t know, there was a rumor that I started. Ask of me, I don’t know who started it. It was probably me. But apparently, someone said that I’m an amazing baker. 

Monique Jenkins: I have never baked anything in my life, y ‘all. Okay, besides box brownies, I have nothing for you. I have absolutely nothing for you. But someone started a rumor that I was a great baker because I was watching the great British baking show. 

Monique Jenkins: So my co -worker sent me a bunch of baking supplies and crust and fancy stuff. I have never used those things. I was like, I don’t know what the hell I’m supposed to do. I don’t wanna throw them away because they’re brand new and they’re like super expensive and stuff. 

Monique Jenkins: Good will or food pantry. Yeah, but I was like, what the hell am I supposed to do with these baking things that I’m not gonna do? And then one day I was like, I’m gonna make a tart. I’m gonna make it with this stuff that he bought me. 

Monique Jenkins: And I bought all the ingredients and I was like, no you’re not, you’re not gonna make it. 

Jessica Valis: Chris is the baker at home, he will bake like a loaf of bread, he bakes like, yeah, he’ll bake it from scratch, but I will never say no to cornbread from a packet, so good, that’s my advice. Okay, back on track, let’s talk about developing an exit plan. 

Monique Jenkins: I always tell people, you need to have an exit plan when you go into an organization. I think it, like you’re putting yourself in a weird spot when you’re like, I wanna quit, what am I gonna do? I always go into a company knowing exactly how long I’m gonna be there. 

Monique Jenkins: So I’ll start and I’ll be like, I probably got about a year here. I think a year, solid. I can learn everything I need to learn, I can make all the connections I need to make in probably about a year. 

Monique Jenkins: And then, so I start my exit plan on day one. Orientation, they’re talking, they’re like, we’re so excited to have you. I’m like, when am I gonna leave this later? Because that’s just who I am. And I always tell people, you have to like, I think for millennials, this that is true. 

Monique Jenkins: The average millennial stays at an organization for about two years. So I think that you got two solid years to get all the things that you need to get before you transition to another company. And I think the average salary jump from one company to a nexus like 20%, mine’s is 30. 

Monique Jenkins: I’m not going to a next organization without at least 30% pay bump. But that’s how you get the most money that you’re gonna get. But I specifically, I write down the values that I wanna get from this organization. 

Monique Jenkins: And I write, and I check that list off as I gain those values. So I’m like, oh, you wanted to learn video. You can work with the video department to learn this, this, and this. When I learned that value, or learned that thing, I check it off. 

Monique Jenkins: I’m like, okay, you got 10 more things to gain from this organization before you need to leave. Because then in that space, I feel confident enough to have an exit strategy and not be here anymore. So at least for me, that’s how I do it. 

Jessica Valis: When I was working at Wells Fargo, even though I was miserable, the pay was just, I was just like, wow, I’m not gonna get this anywhere else because I was talking to, you know, at the time, you know, talking to people who graduated with me, they weren’t making as much. 

Jessica Valis: They didn’t get as much vacation leave and stuff. So I was really, and the 401k match. So I was really grateful just to even have the paycheck coming in that I didn’t leave. But one of the things I did know, I did know that I was going to leave and I was going to wait until maternity leave to do it because I wanted my four months paid. 

Jessica Valis: So I had a plan in place that I was building my business. I was gonna have my baby during those four months of maternity leave, build the business, and then maternity leave ends, bye bye. They beat me to it by like six months, it’s cool. 

Jessica Valis: But I had the plan in place. I knew what I was going to do. 

Monique Jenkins: And I’ve heard a lot of people say that, at least a lot of my friends, male and female, when their wife went out on maternity leave, or a woman, if she went out on maternity leave, I started setting the plan in motion that I wasn’t gonna be here. 

Monique Jenkins: So you have maternity leave for four months, I have four months to kill it. And that’s hard when you have a newborn and you are invested in them and you wanna make sure everything is going good. But I feel like a lot of people that I know that jumped into entrepreneurship was like, I have a free schedule, she’s not technically free, you have a baby. 

Monique Jenkins: But I have a free schedule, I’m getting a constant paycheck. I’m gonna take that time to invest truly into entrepreneurship. And then when I come back, I’m in a better place. I feel more confident. At least I got a couple clients I know what it takes while still earning my steady paycheck. 

Jessica Valis: Yeah. And, uh, for the women out there who are like, Oh, I’m pregnant or, you know, one day I’m going to be pregnant and I’ll use my maternity leave. Nobody’s pregnancy and postpartum is the same. And so don’t look at what Monique and I have been able to do during this time and be like, I have to be able to do that. 

Jessica Valis: I mean, I suffered through postpartum depression. Um, and it was, it was tricky. Um, that was, that was the first baby I still kind of knew I was going to leave, but I didn’t have the plan in place until the second baby. 

Jessica Valis: Um, so, but anyways, don’t judge yourself if that’s kind of your plan. Yeah. 

Monique Jenkins: And I will say I didn’t have postpartum depression and I did absolutely nothing for my business while I was pregnant. Like I certainly had a plan and I talked to people who said that they did it and I was like, all right, you’re gonna kill it, you’re gonna do it. 

Monique Jenkins: And I was just infatuated with my baby. I didn’t wanna do anything. You had to do it for her. There is nothing wrong with that. I was like, I’m not. I was like, I know that you had these grand plans in your head, but the truth of the matter is, you’re not about to do none of that. 

Monique Jenkins: What you’re about to do is take this time to like really invest in this child that you just had. And that’s the only thing I did. I literally did nothing. And that for me at least was the only time in my entirety of my career where I stopped checking my work stuff. 

Monique Jenkins: I check work stuff on vacation. It’d be three o ‘clock in the morning. I’m like looking at stuff. I’m that person. Like I just wanna be in tune. That was the first time that I was like, I don’t care about this job. 

Monique Jenkins: I don’t care about none of this stuff. I don’t wanna deal with any of this. I’m not gonna open a Slack or email or whatever the case is. I just wanna spend time with my baby. So don’t penalize yourself if you don’t get any of those. 

Monique Jenkins: If you don’t get anything aside from like conceptually, this is what I wanna do as far as entrepreneurship is concerned. Done during your pregnancy or if you get nothing done at all, that’s fine too. 

Monique Jenkins: Just like enjoy this new like phase of life. It ain’t easy. 

Jessica Valis: So I guess at the end of all of this is to say, when you’re ready to be an entrepreneur, you kind of know it. You see where you’re working. Do you hate what you do? Do you love what you do to the point that you want to do it out on your own? 

Jessica Valis: And just don’t be too hard on yourself. Give yourself grace. And know that entrepreneurship is not easy. There’s a lot of work that goes into it. 

Monique Jenkins: I would agree with that. I give yourself as much grace as that you can afford. I think just being structured in your plan, writing out what you intend to accomplish. But also, I will say this isn’t something that we said during the episode, but create realistic goals. 

Monique Jenkins: I’ve heard people say, Instagram followers, I have zero, I’m gonna get to two million by the end of this year. That’s not feasible, okay? It’s not, unless you hit a viral video or something like that. 

Monique Jenkins: That’s not a priority. Yeah, so if your business, say you didn’t wanna be a YouTuber or something like that, create smart goals for yourself that get you to the place where you want to go. And you’re not gonna go from zero to two million. 

Monique Jenkins: You could say, hey, I wanna get from zero to 5 ,000 by the end of this year. It’s my goal to get to that place. Or whatever your respective goal is. But don’t be outrageous in your goals because you’re setting yourself up for failure. 

Jessica Valis: Yeah, and don’t forget that you don’t need to do this alone. It is okay to white label under people. It is okay to have people white label under you to subcontract things out. You don’t have to stretch yourself so thin just because, you know, oh, it’s my first client. 

Jessica Valis: I’ve got to do everything. Yeah, you’re gonna give a little money away, but the job’s gonna be done better. And consequently, you’ll get additional clients because of that. 

Monique Jenkins: Yeah, but don’t, don’t, don’t give away too much of your money. Because I’ve seen, sometimes you work projects and you realize that you give away all your revenue and you don’t have any money to pay yourself. 

Monique Jenkins: So, you know, just be strategic about what you’re paying other people. Also, this is a tidbit, don’t ever tell someone how much money you’re gonna get from a project because if you say, hey, I just signed a client for $30 ,000, I guarantee you, when you, when someone wants a white label under you, they’re gonna be like, oh, I charged 15 ,000. 

Monique Jenkins: No, you don’t. You charged 500. But now, since you heard the number, you always elevate your price. So don’t tell them. Just be like, I don’t know the budget yet. What do you charge? Because it’s not about what the budget is, it’s about what they charge for the services that they render. 

Monique Jenkins: They’re gonna tell you their value based on whatever numbers they can calculate it in their own head. And you wanna go off of that number. But I’ve certainly had another, too many conversations with people where I’ve been like, oh, I have $100 ,000 client. 

Monique Jenkins: And they’re like, I think 50 ,000 is fair. For social media, baby, you better get out of my face. So like, think about those things, too. Some nuggets you have to keep to yourself. Like, when you white label, some things you just have to keep to yourself. 

Monique Jenkins: Once you sign them and all of that jazz, then you can say whatever you wanna say. But I think in the beginning, at least, people obviously wanna make a living for their own business and their own self, too. 

Monique Jenkins: And they can elevate their pricing as a result of what you said a client is gonna bring in. 

Jessica Valis: And don’t forget that just because you’re starting out doesn’t mean you need to start your prices out low. Know what you’re worth, set the value, and people will get it. Yeah. 

Monique Jenkins: people will pay for what they want. Awesome guys, we’re gonna sign off at this point, but we’re super excited, you know, to start this new year with you, have these conversations. We have some super exciting guests that are gonna be coming up in the next couple episodes. 

Monique Jenkins: One after this one, you’re gonna meet Evan, officially meet Evan. And then we have some super exciting people coming in February as well that you guys are gonna love, so. So goodbye. Bye. Bye. As we conclude another episode of the Design Imposter Podcast, remember, self -doubt may be a universal experience, but it should never define your worth or potential. 

Jessica Valis: Embrace the power of your creativity, trust in your abilities, and continue creating fearlessly. You belong in this space and your contributions are invaluable to your community and those around you. 

Monique Jenkins: Thank you for being a part of the Design Impostor community and don’t forget to subscribe and follow us on Instagram and Facebook and leave a review to help other impostors find us. Until our next episode. 

Jessica Valis: keep those headphones ready.