With all the incredible pressure put on accountants this past year of the pandemic, added to the already challenging role of being a working mom, it’s no wonder so many accountant moms are considering the idea of going out on their own. To be able to make your own hours, be your own boss, and work around your family’s needs without sacrificing your career aspirations, is such an amazing and affordable option that you now have.
I work with and speak to so many of you who are dealing with a lot of mom guilt, who want to be the one to pick your kids up from school, and who want to simply be able to have Winter and Spring break off instead of having to scramble to find childcare because it’s tax season. I can remember one Winter break in particular when my kids were younger and everyone was home with my husband, but I had to leave to go to work because it was tax season; I pulled into the parking lot of my building, could see that the only cars that were there were other accountants, and I cried.
I felt such a tug-of-war going on between wanting to have an accounting career, but also wanting to be a mom that could go sledding during Winter break, or go away during Spring break instead of having to beg and barter for childcare. For some of you, you may just want to be able to work with clients that you resonate with or make more money without needing to answer to someone else’s arbitrary rules.
It all sounds wonderful, and I’m sure you could add a lot more reasons for wanting to go out on your own, but the issue that I see for a lot of accountant moms that’s holding them back is the idea that they don’t have what it takes. They’re concerned that having their own practice isn’t for them and that they can’t be successful.
For a lot of you listening, you might be thinking “I’m good at my job, but what if I’m not THAT good?” This is such a common issue because almost everyone suffers with imposter syndrome to varying degrees, where you have this nagging feeling that someone’s going to discover some hidden truth about you, and that you’re not as smart as everyone around you.
This is incredibly common for accountants because we’re all intelligent, or we wouldn’t be in the accounting profession, but because we work in a sea of intelligent people, we wind up comparing ourselves to others and then worrying that we don’t measure up. Day in and day out we’re challenged to know more and adapt to so many changes, that it can begin to erode our confidence in our abilities.
When your confidence starts to dwindle, this can then lead to the belief that you don’t have what it takes to go out on your own. Unfortunately, that’s when it seems so much more comfortable to stay where you are, even if you’d like the freedom, the flexibility, the money, or any other reason you have for considering going out on your own.
Just know that you’re not alone with your concerns about whether you have what it takes to go out on your own. While it’s normal, it’s also important to know that there’s a reason you’re feeling that way, and it has nothing to do with whether you’re capable or not.
This week I’m going to discuss what “having what it takes” means and how to overcome what’s holding you back.
What “having what it takes” means
For a lot of the women I speak to and work with, who have a dream about going out on their own and being able to create what they want for their careers and their families, the question they often ask themselves is “Do I have what it takes?”. And I can tell you from my experience, that the answer they almost always tell themselves initially is “No”.
The reason this is often the answer when they question themselves is because of two things – first, they have a human brain, and second, they’re not getting clear about the definition of what “having what it takes” actually means to them. Their knee jerk reaction is to negate the idea because they’re not aware of what’s driving that reaction.
It’s important to understand that your doubts are just your brain’s way of trying to protect you from what it fears the most – things like change, possible failure, and the dread of disappointment. Unless you understand what’s happening, you’ll naturally believe your brain is telling you the truth, but it’s only telling you what it’s been programmed to believe.
As I shared in a previous podcast episode, most of your formal education has prepared you to be an employee and to stay in a job. It has not prepared you to go out on your own and to be an entrepreneur.
Our modern education system was initially designed to teach future factory workers how to be good employees. Over the past 200 years it has continued to teach us to be obedient, to follow direction, to be motivated by external deadlines, and to understand that there are people in charge whose rules and ideas are to be followed.
Rarely are we taught how to build the muscle of being our own boss. Like most accounting employees, over time your job becomes your identity and when faced with creating a new identity, most working moms are concerned about the challenges they’ll face.
So unless you grew up with entrepreneurial parents or were exposed in other ways to entrepreneurship, the idea is just too foreign to your brain. Your brain gravitates towards ease and sameness, so if most of your education and experience was geared towards following a certain path, it’s no wonder you’re questioning your abilities.
In order to help you see that you’re not alone, here are some of the actual concerns that the CPA MOMS franchisees shared about what their brains were telling them when they were wondering if they had what it takes to go out on their own:
- I have no idea what I’m doing
- How do I even find clients?
- I don’t know enough to “run” the financial side of someone’s business
- I’m not experienced enough
- When people ask “How long have you been a CPA?”, my answer isn’t impressive enough
- I’m afraid I won’t make enough money to support myself
- I’m not an expert
- I don’t have enough confidence to sell my services
Do any of those sound familiar to you? If you’re anything like the franchisees, or many other accountant moms I speak to, I’m going to bet that your brain has a list of reasons that it’s telling you, in order to prove to you that you don’t have what it takes.
So that takes me to the second reason why “No” is often the answer when you question whether you have what it takes – because you haven’t defined what “having what it takes” actually means for you. You’re just letting your lower, reactionary, toddler-like part of your brain make it up.
Typically the definition most women think of when considering what it means to “have what it takes”has to do with being smart enough or good enough, but that’s also leaving it up to your lower brain to define what “enough” is. Unless you’ve been working on your level of confidence, your lower brain’s idea of being “enough” is going to have you stay stuck and not do anything out of the norm.
If you really think about it, having what it takes could mean a whole host of things, but I think the most important thing to consider when it comes to having what it takes to go out on your own, comes down to one very important thing – willingness. If you are willing to learn, willing to be uncomfortable doing things that might be unfamiliar, willing to ask for help, and willing to do some brain management, then you DO have what it takes.
The only thing standing between you going out on your own, being able to make your own hours, being your own boss, and working around your family’s needs without sacrificing your career aspirations, is your unmanaged brain. That’s it – it all comes down to your brain and understanding how to override the programming that keeps you from going after what you want.
How to overcome what’s holding you back
I want you to think about this – why would you ever be wired to want something that wasn’t possible for you? Really consider the fact that if going out on your own is something you want, as opposed to someone who has no desire at all to do it, that your inner wisdom is pulling you towards what’s actually possible for you.
When you think about it that way, does it make you start to consider that it might be more than just a passing idea, but that the fact that you have the desire is an indication that your brain knows it’s possible, but that it’s just normally afraid? This is why it’s so important to question why you would have a desire if it wasn’t something you could go after.
Most of the accounting moms I speak to have a desire for more but they doubt themselves and just assume that they don’t have what it takes to go out on their own so they don’t even try. They don’t see the connection between the desire and the yet untapped ability to make the desire a reality.
Another thing that might be holding you back is that you haven’t seen someone just like you that has done what you want to do. Thankfully, we’ve got you covered on that because our CPA MOMS franchisees ARE just like you.
They are accountants and moms from all over the country, even Alaska, who had all the same doubts that you’re having. They also wanted to be the one to pick their kids up from school, to simply be able to choose to have Winter and Spring break off if they wanted instead of having to scramble to find childcare because it’s tax season, and to help support their families financially.
They had all the same questions and concerns about whether they were good enough or capable enough that you have. They kept shooing away the idea of going out on their own each time the desire popped up because, just like you, they have a human brain that was afraid of change.
So what made them realize that they had what it takes to go out on their own? The answer is twofold – first, they all had their own unique, compelling reasons that they wanted their own practice and second, they switched from thinking “I don’t have what it takes to go out on my own” to “What if it was possible that I do have what it takes to go out on my own?”.
They started to be open to thoughts like “What if I can do this?”, “What if I do know enough and can get help for the things I don’t know?”, “What if I can be successful and go out on my own?”. These “What if” questions began to open them up to the idea that it might not be easy, but it was possible to go out on their own, with the support of other accountant moms who chose to do the same thing.
Instead of fighting for their limitations by focusing on all the thoughts I shared with you before, these women were willing to question it all and are so grateful they did. They’ll tell you it wasn’t easy, but that they are so happy that they were willing to see the possibility, to question what “having what it takes” really means, and for finding a sisterhood of like minded accountant moms who have the same desire that they do.
Now that they’ve done it, they’ll tell you that there’s no way they’re going back to a job and giving up the dream they had of being out on their own, having a firm, and having a family. They’re now able to spend more time with their children during the day, hire other accountant moms for their team, and take those Spring break vacations that were impossible before.
The best part is that they didn’t have to do it by themselves. They had a year-long training program, support, mentoring, and coaching, as well as each other, in order to be independent but not alone.
In order to overcome what’s holding you back, one of the best questions you can possibly ask yourself when you have a limiting belief is “What if I’m wrong about that?”. Since your brain has a cognitive bias, where it always looks for proof of what you believe, whether the belief is helpful or not, I suggest that you begin to catch those limiting beliefs and question them.
I like to call this “catch and release” where you realize you’re thinking something that isn’t helpful or useful so you notice it, don’t judge it, and release it. The more you can catch yourself believing optional thoughts that aren’t serving you, the easier it will become to release those thoughts and choose other optional, helpful ones that make you feel more willing, open, and curious.
For example, when the thought “I’m not experienced enough” or “I don’t know enough” pops up, choose instead to think “What if I’m wrong about that?”. Give your brain the chance to sit with that question and look for proof that maybe you are wrong about not being experienced enough or knowing enough.
So do you have what it takes to go out on your own? I hope this episode helps you to feel more open to the possibility that you probably do.
- Just know that you’re not alone with your concerns about whether you have what it takes to go out on your own. While it’s normal, it’s also important to know that there’s a reason you’re feeling that way, and it has nothing to do with whether you’re capable or not.
- It’s important to understand that your doubts are just your brain’s way of trying to protect you from what it fears the most – things like change, possible failure, and the dread of disappointment.
- If you really think about it, having what it takes could mean a whole host of things, but I think the most important thing to consider when it comes to having what it takes to go out on your own, comes down to one thing – willingness.
- In order to overcome what’s holding you back, one of the best questions you can possibly ask yourself when you have a limiting belief is “What if I’m wrong about that?”.