Corporate Life VS Entrepreneur Life with the Business Besties

Have you ever imagined yourself on the other side of the fence?

Are you dreaming of leaving your 9-5 to start your own business? Or are you wanting to get back to corporate life?

No matter which side you are on, you have to listen to this episode of the Business Besties!

Each side has its own pros and cons. There’s no right or wrong. “No path was ever a mistake.”

Whatever suits your lifestyle and goals, that is where you should go. Katie calls her entrepreneurial journey an accidental one. If she wasn’t laid off, she wouldn’t have thought of starting her own business. It wasn’t an easy task. All the distractions are there. The flexibility of working anywhere is two-faced and it’s challenging for a mother of two to make her business grow.

And as much as we hate the pandemic, this is when a whole new kind of running a business started. It forced every business owner with the possibilities of the internet. We found business partners in Zoom, accountability partners in online networking events, and so much more. It is so important we try and build or join an online community where we can share our entrepreneurial journey.

As her final takeaway, Kendra mentioned that you really don’t have to choose between having a corporate job and a business if you enjoy doing both. Whatever works for you is totally fine.

Listen to today’s episode and this might just be the conversation you’ve been meaning to have.

Kendra’s website:


Katie Brinkley 0:02

Hi friends. I’m Katie Brinkley and you’re listening to Rocky Mountain marketing. This podcast is all about helping Colorado based small business owners, entrepreneurs, realtors and professionals discover the strategies and systems that take their marketing to all new heights. Let’s dive into today’s episode. Welcome back to a another fun episode of business besties My name is Katie Brinkley. I am a social media strategist and I have been helping small businesses, personal brands and entrepreneurs with their social media strategy for 18 years now and I’m joined by my business bestie Kendra squalls.

Kendra Swalls 0:44

Hey guys, I’m Kendra. I am a business coach helping busy moms to balance business life and mom life so they can be more successful and more productive.

Katie Brinkley 0:54

Well, in this week’s episode, we are going to talk about corporate life versus entrepreneur life. And you know what led both Kendra and me to become entrepreneurs because I’ll be on it. Kendra, you can share your story too. But I like to call myself the accidental entrepreneur. Yeah,

Kendra Swalls 1:14

no same thing. Like I never this was not the path like this was not ever my plan in life, I was thought I was gonna be a teacher for my entire life. That was my plan or something in the education field. And the idea of starting a business just kind of happened and it took off from there. And I just sort of went down the path and saw where it was gonna go. And it’s led to amazing things. Thank goodness. Well, and

Katie Brinkley 1:42

I think that that’s one of the biggest things that most of us learn as we’re growing up. It’s okay, you grow up, you go to school, you go to college, you get a degree, and then you go and work for a company. And not very many people are taught along the way like, Yeah, well, you can go through high school, and maybe you could start your own business right then. And entrepreneurship kind of seems to me like it’s something that a lot of people fall back on. They fall into entrepreneurship. I know I did. I thought I was going to be a radio reporter for ever. And that’s what I wanted to do. That was the job that I got. And I will be the first one to raise my hand and say that I gave up on it way too quickly. I was afraid. When Sirius XM came out. I was like, Oh my gosh, that’s it for the radio industry. Everyone’s abandoning ship for TV. I have no TV experience, no television reporting experience, and what am I going to do? And I left? I panicked. And I absolutely, you know, speaking to my younger self right now, I should have stuck it out, I should have just waited to see what would happen and continued building my resume so that I could have you know, maybe right now I would be sitting up in a in a broadcast booth calling the play by plays, which is what my whole dream was to be let’s be a play by play sports reporter for the NFL, and I wish I would have stuck it out longer. But I never even thought about trying to start my own business back then. And if I would have, I wouldn’t have started this business, a social media business because being a social media, anything didn’t exist back 18 years ago, MySpace, that was still a lot of bands and musicians on it. Facebook was still just for people in college only. So I think that everything happens for a reason. And I know there’s the saying, at least for friendships, there’s, there’s a reason a season in a lifetime. And I do think that my lifetime goal is to be an entrepreneur, like this is kind of what I was made for.

Kendra Swalls 3:43

Well, I’m curious, I’m going to ask you a quick question here. So like you say, you wish you had stuck it out. But what you know now about where you are now. And this kind of leads into our topic for today. And we can kind of come back to the story in a second. But, you know, this idea of would you choose entrepreneurship over the corporate world, or the or the job you had, because if you had stuck it out, you probably wouldn’t be doing what you’re doing now. So do you still think that like, do you still think that you should have stayed in that if it had led you into different paths? With my life?

Katie Brinkley 4:17

Yeah, my life would be completely different. And it is interesting too, because we make these decisions I think in the sometimes in the blink of an eye, and we’re not realizing how much of an impact it can have on the rest of our lives. I I probably one I wouldn’t be an entrepreneur, I’d probably be traveling around the country, it’d be really hard to have kids. I think that moms who are in the media, they are superheroes because they work weird hours, they’re always traveling and it is a very, very demanding job. So I don’t know if I would have kids. I probably wouldn’t be married to my husband. That I mean, who knows? And I think that you know, everything does happen for a reason. I I was, like I said, devastated. When I left, I thought that I just get back into it like it was that easy. But I love what I do. Now I have the flexibility, I have a company that I love, I put so much blood, sweat and tears into this company because I am passionate about it. I can work from anywhere I can choose the where I work from. So I think that as I have evolved this this business, it really almost becomes that second child. Yeah,

Kendra Swalls 5:31

what I think you and I know that I can say this for myself, too. Like you have brought the skills that you acquired and like your natural ability in some areas. But the skills you acquired as a, you know, radio reporter and all these things like you have that, like you bring something unique to what you’re doing. I always like to say that no path was ever a mistake like I don’t I’m someone who’s like, I don’t want to go back. I don’t regret anything that happened my life are you know, are there things that I made mistakes on are the things that I wish I could maybe go back and do a little bit differently, probably. But as a whole, I feel like I have made choices that have led me to where I am. And I’m very happy with where I am. But I also can go back and see how had I not spent 14 years as an elementary school teacher and a math specialist and working in the ministration, all these things like I wouldn’t have the same skill set that I have now that I think makes me a great business coach that helps me to connect with people better and to break things down into a very simple terms and strategies for people to follow. And so I think we all bring something from our past as well. And so for you, had you not done that path and jumped right into entrepreneurship, I don’t think you would have the same business you have now because you have this radio presence. And this way about you that like it makes you a great podcast host it makes you a great clubhouse moderate, it makes you you know, great doing other things non audio related to but those are skills that you had to acquire before you could do what you’re doing now.

Katie Brinkley 7:06

Absolutely. And I think that too, it’s one, I wouldn’t be a social media, I think but I probably would have given up. If I would have tried to become an entrepreneur right after leaving the radio station. There’s no way I would have had the the skill sets and the confidence in trying to build my own company. You know, I think that we want to talk about all of the great parts about being an entrepreneur, you know, the flexible working hours, you know, the ability to earn whatever you want the ability to change your business model, if you if that’s no longer serving you, Okay, guess what, as an entrepreneur, you can go ahead and change it. If you are a b2c and you’re finding that you enjoy working with b2b better, you can do that when you’re an entrepreneur, it definitely is harder to make those kinds of leaps when you are an employee. And I think that too, when you’re an entrepreneur, the options for growth, are there a lot more. Whereas like, I want to learn more about XYZ, I know it’ll cost this, I’m going to go ahead and invest that in myself and my business because I know it will help the company grow where you might have to go through a lot of hoops when you work at as an employee if you want to take that same training.

Kendra Swalls 8:15

But yeah, there’s definitely there’s pros and cons to both. I think, from my own personal experience, I had a kind of distorted idea of what it would be like to leave my full time job and go into entrepreneurship. It For Me a lot of what the reasons I left teaching, want you because I had a lot of people that were like, but it’s you have such a great job. At the time that I left. I did like in the world of education, I had a very like coveted position, which was I wasn’t in the classroom. I wasn’t necessarily like in administration, I was kind of in this like in between point where I could create my own schedule, sort of I mean, I still had to be there at certain hours of the day. But I got to create this ad the schedule of when I went into classrooms, when I pulled kids to work with when I’m worked with teachers, I got to lead trainings, I got to create a curriculum, I got to do all these things. I have a lot of autonomy. And it was great. But there were still so many things I was missing such as like, I wanted to be in charge of my day, I wanted to be able to say like, Hey, I’m gonna go on my lunch break for an hour and run errands. I couldn’t do that working where I work like we You didn’t leave during the day. You just don’t like when you work at a school like you’re in there. It’s almost like you’re trapped from like 7am to 4pm Like you don’t leave. And if you do, they kind of make a big deal about it. And so because you’re accountable for that during those hours, and I did not like the fact that I felt like I was trapped on a daily basis. And so I had this idea that like oh, if I can I get out of this and do my own thing. It’s going to be so great because I’m going to have all this time and I’m gonna have all this freedom. And while some of that’s true, there’s a lot else that comes with it as well. So it’s definitely, you have to understand the pros and cons of both and really kind of weigh those out, which no one laid that out for me when I was making that decision. And I wouldn’t change the decision I made. But it was also like, it would have been nice to kind of have a little bit more of a realistic idea of what entrepreneurship really was, versus like the idea I’d created in my head.

Katie Brinkley 10:25

Absolutely. And I think that the idea of entrepreneurship, from work from home, you can work from anywhere, and one of the biggest struggles, that’s why I’m sitting here in my office at a co working space is that working from home while it is really really nice, it is also very, very distracting. One of the biggest struggles for me was a well, I’m just going to get the laundry started. Well now I’m just going to put away well, I’m just gonna go ahead and pick up the girls room really fast. So just going to get dinner started. And while all that is productive for being at home, it also was setting me back from getting to that next level for my business this My husband has said this before, because we’ve talked about, you know, like how could we maybe put like a divider up in the basement somewhere so that we both could work from home. And he said to me that Katie, you know, as much as I would like the idea of it financially, what working from an office has done for you and your business was worth every penny because it’s taken you from being kind of that that side hustle sort of mentality to this is your job and your business has absolutely grown ever since you left home and it’s I think it is because I I left the distractions that that were everywhere when I was at home.

Kendra Swalls 11:40

Yeah, for me, like, and those distractions are very real. I mean, I’m currently sitting in like my office slash guest room at home. And yeah, there are days when I’m like, Okay, well, I’m just gonna like, I’ll just do that load of dishes really quick or, oh, yeah, I was gonna clean up the girls playroom rolled you know, say whatever. And like, it does it. Next thing you know, it’s, you know, noon or one or two, and you’re like, Oh, crap, I haven’t done the things that were on my like to do list for work. But I also like, I’m not exactly the best like Suzie homemaker. So

Katie Brinkley 12:09

I always like to say I’m an Amazon Prime mom, not a mom,

Kendra Swalls 12:13

not even close. Pinterest, not even Pinterest like I yeah, like I needed. This was a conversation. My husband I had when I left my teaching job I was working from home was he kind of had this idea of like, well, now that she’s home all day, like the house will be clean, the laundry will be done, Dinner will be ready. We’re going to have like meal plans, the grocery shopping all the things. And so he would get kind of frustrated when he would come home. And like none of that had been done because, and to Him. It looked like I was just sitting at the computer all day. But I was like, No, I’m doing things like I’m making moves. I’m moving my business forward. So we had to have a really hard conversation. Not really hard. But we had to have like a heart to heart conversation about like, what exactly am I doing here the day? And what are the expectations? What would you say you do here? Yeah, exactly. I survive. But I mean, I think that that is it was a really kind of a hurdle we had to get over. And then I had to kind of wrap my brain around the idea that like, okay, yes, I am working from home. And at the time I had, like my youngest one was still home with me. And so it was this balance of it didn’t make sense for me to have an office space outside of the home, because then I was had to pay for childcare. And that was kind of the whole point of not having her and childcare. And so it was tough, it was really tough. And if I look back on it, like there were months where I didn’t move my business forward, because I wasn’t giving, putting in the effort. And that’s one of the I wouldn’t even call it a con necessarily. But that’s one of the things that people don’t talk about a lot is the fact that like, when you are working in a corporate or an office situation where you’re someone’s employee, you have accountability. You have someone who is saying, these are your goals for this quarter, these are your tasks that you need to get done. These are your X, Y and Z. When you work for yourself, you’re having to say that to yourself. And it’s I always like to joke I’m like, I’m a really hard boss and a really lazy employee. And so it’s always the best combination. But yeah, you have to be disciplined and make yourself be disciplined or it’s not going to happen. Well in

Katie Brinkley 14:22

during 2020. My my husband’s office shut down. I know that your husband has a different job. So he was still going into the office despite the fact of COVID because he was the term Why am I blanking on the term?

Kendra Swalls 14:36

Oh my gosh, I’m blanking on it to

Katie Brinkley 14:38

like not unnecessary, essential. Yes, and essential worker there we go between both your brains

Kendra Swalls 14:44

there. Well,

Katie Brinkley 14:46

so my husband went home came home. We were sharing the home office. He was working from five to one I was working from one until like 530 So I was now only working about for four and a half hours a day. Still trying to roll my podcasts, it was really hard. But when I got my office here and left the house, and it was just him at home he could work from, he now works from six until around three, he was able to work from home and I would come home and he was like, I get it. Katie, I understand now why when I would come home from work, sometimes you would be like, can we just go to Target? Can we just go outside and see other human beings and see other adults. And I think that that is a very common misunderstanding, or that people that do go to an office every day that have employees that work with them, they don’t get how lonely it can be even whether you’re a solopreneur, or you’re an entrepreneur with remote team members, it can be a very lonely journey, and just getting out of the house to talk to another adult, it really does make a huge difference. And, again, that’s why I chose this office that I’m in because it’s in a really high traffic zone. People walk by my office all the time, because the kitchens just two offices down that way. And I can can see other people, you know, and, and he he says now that he’s home, he’s like, I get it now. Like I get, like how hard it was to you know why the dishes weren’t done. I understand now why you just wanted to go wander around Target just so you could look at other people when I would get home and I’m like, yeah, it can be lonely.

Kendra Swalls 16:23

Yeah, I consider myself a very extroverted person. And I, you know, I’ve heard people say, like, oh, it’s really lonely when you work for yourself, and you work from home. And I was like, I’ll be fine. Like, I’ve got, I’m a social person, I’ll find people to go have lunch with or I’ll go to networking events, and I’ll do all these things. And I said all that but then when reality came in, and I was like, oh, no, it’s been three weeks, and I have not talked to another adult. That wasn’t my husband. I’m like, how does that happen? And so I’m like, if someone like me, who is a very social outgoing person can feel that way. I can only imagine if you’re a naturally an inverted person anyway, that you would go months possibly without talking to somebody else.

Katie Brinkley 17:07

Yeah. And I like to consider myself an extroverted introvert. Like I really like being by myself reading playing video games like with my family, but there is it put me in a crowd. Now I’ll be out there talking. I just, they’re an extrovert introvert, my childhood best friend. We became friends in kindergarten because there was a day at school that we she was playing on the big kid playground, and all the other kids were over on the kindergarten playground and I was like, I won’t play in the playground. So I went and made friends with this crop. She and I have been friends ever since she was Matron. bridesmaid in my wedding. We are college roommates. We still do stuff together all the time. She is 100% An introvert will go through 234 books a week is fine. Being by herself. She has sense after COVID told me COVID And being an introvert really hurt her out. And she because when it first happened, I remember her saying, Oh, I was built for this. I was built to be an introvert during COVID. This is fantastic. I don’t talk to anyone not to see anyone. And we were talking a few weeks ago. And she was saying she’s like yeah, it’s it’s actually gotten really hard for me to get out of the house now. And I find myself getting into this depressive state just because I’ve gotten so used to being by myself at home. That yeah, I like it. But now I’ve almost become uncomfortable with myself there. So I think that regardless, when you whether extrovert or introvert, too much of being by yourself all day can really grind you down.

Kendra Swalls 18:44

Yeah, messes with your mind. That’s what like and great. And when I left, I left my teaching job in 2017. And so at the time, I was really building my photography business. And so luckily, I was part of a couple of photography, like networking groups. I was in the wedding industry, I was a wedding photographer. So I had like these wedding industry like luncheons once a month I could go to and we would have I was there was a little magazine that I was writing for. And so I would go to their events and like all that stuff. So that kept me pretty active. And then I kind of slowly I mean, I still do photography, but I’ve slowly kind of gotten out of the networking piece of it. And then COVID hit right after I started my coaching business. And so for me, my saving grace with all of that was social media. And I think for a lot of people, but that was my way of being like, Okay, I can’t go physically meet up with people, I can’t go like call a friend and say, Let’s go to lunch. I can’t, you know, go to this networking event. So now I’m going to have to do it virtually. And obviously, that’s how you and I became friends. That’s how I’ve met a lot of I mean, honestly, like I was thinking about this the other day, probably 75% of the people I talked to on average regular basis, our internet friends are people that I’ve met through social media through podcasting through, you know, speaking at things, whatever. And I mean, I just not to say that anything like, Oh, I’m so grateful for this pandemic, but at the same time, like, if it was me, it was gonna happen. At least it happened when we had all of this technology that allowed us to find ways to still connect with other people. And if you’re in a position where you have left your nine to five, and you’re working from home, and you’re like nodding your head going, Yeah, I feel the same way. Like I need connection. Like we have those opportunities, at least like that. We’re not so isolated, like we would have been just 20 years ago.

Katie Brinkley 20:42

Well, I was gonna say even just even two years ago, well, yeah, yeah. I mean, really, I think that the pandemic, and it’s horrible that it had to happen, but I do feel like trying to find a silver lining from it. And and what it did was open up the opportunity for a lot of employers to rethink virtual working the work from home lifestyle, because I know my husband’s employer, that was an absolute NoCo he Yeah, no, you don’t, if you’re at home, then you’re sick. So you don’t work from home. And I think it really changed the thinking of a lot of people with with the work from home situation. But it also opened up the opportunity for people to be willing to accept a random message from someone on the internet to just randomly hop on a zoom call with somebody that you met on Instagram. That is a situation that I think before I even remember, my uncle said to me, he goes, because we were at that Colorado Avalanche game, and there’s a zoom ad on one of the walls, and he goes, what is that Zoom? And I was like, oh, it’s an online like video chat meeting tool. And he goes, who does that? Who meets on the computer? And I was like, Well, I do. And he was like, wow, you’re different. You know, you do all that, that internet stuff. And I’m like, but now it is second nature to just quickly hop on a zoom call, or a GoTo Meeting, or a Skype call to get to know someone better. And I think that it is something that is really shown a lot of people there. I mean, they’re the Great Recession is going on right now, but has shown a lot of people that you can work from anywhere and build relationships and build a business now with the way that if you’re willing to embrace this technology.

Kendra Swalls 22:16

Yeah. Well, and that made me think to like so at the beginning of this, we were talking about our you’d mentioned, you know, the idea that like, yeah, in our day and age, like you didn’t be offered the option of okay, I’m gonna go start a business after high school or college. It wasn’t there. Like you think about when, you know, people ask teachers ask kids in school, what do you want to be when you grow up? In our time, it was like, I want to be a teacher, I want to be a doctor, I want to be a firefighter, I want to be like, oh, like these kinds of like, no one said, I want to start my own company like that just did not exist. And what’s kind of mind boggling to me was that I grew up in a family that owned their own business like I do. Okay, but did you ever view it that way, because I never viewed it that way I viewed it as my mom going to work. I never, it never occurred to me that she owned the flipping company. You know, like it just because it wasn’t talked about in a way that it’s talked about. Now. You know, it was not a mom owns this company, it was mom has to be at work six days a week, because, you know, she has to run everything and be in charge of all these employees and make sure things happen. It was never like she’s an entrepreneur, or a business owner, those words never came out of people’s mouths. It was that’s the family business, or that’s the company or whatever. And so now, like, I look at my kids, and I look at like, even like the high school kids in our area, and I’m like, they see a whole different workforce of like opportunities, they see a whole different field of opportunities that we didn’t see, they have a whole different terminology that we didn’t have back then there. It’s like, everything has opened up like two or three times when it used to be because there’s so many different opportunities. Now there’s so many different avenues people can take. You know, there’s there’s conversations around starting a business, going to a trade school. Like there’s not one specific, right, it’s not you go to high school, you go to college, you get a job, you know, it’s you go to high school, maybe you go to college, maybe you start a business, maybe you take a gap year in travel, but you go to trade school, maybe you get it, you know, job right out of college, because you already know, you know, somebody that can help you, whatever, there’s all these different options. But I also as much as I love that I also think it can be a little overwhelming for some people. And like I said before, I think having that business like that employee experience helped me be a better entrepreneur.

Katie Brinkley 24:48

I’m 100% agree. I 100% agree. And I think that one thing I want everybody to walk away with from listening to this episode is that while it’s not all rainbows and butterflies Being an entrepreneur, I mean, there’s 80 hour workweeks. There are Kendra, before we hit record here, you said, I get my best ideas at 3am. And that’s and it’s true, I wake up at 3am Every day, and I don’t know why I’m still tired, I’m not ready to work out or get my day going, I wake up and I, at three o’clock, I have something to think about with my business. And it’s like clockwork, I will roll over it, I see it. There’s a lot of struggles with being an entrepreneur. But the biggest thing I want people to walk away with is that whether you decide you want to start your own business, or if you know, being an employee is what makes the most sense for you, in your journey, that you’re not alone, you can find someone else out there to be on this journey with you, whether you are business besties online, whether you need an accountability partner, whether it’s somebody if it’s your boss, if you’re an employee, and your boss you look up to I know, I looked up to my boss at the television station tremendously. And it was her her word saying, Katie, I would love to see you start your own social media business, then I am where I am today, I took her words and I ran with it, we are still in communication, we still talk to each other. We see each other maybe once a year. And it’s it’s invaluable to me. So I think that as you decide your entrepreneur journey, or if an employee being an employee is the right route for you look for those other people that can be on this journey with you. Yeah,

Kendra Swalls 26:25

and I want to say one more quick thing about too, like, I think we needed to address to the in between, I think that there are a lot of people who they want to start a business and but they’re like, but I love my job. I know simple, like, I absolutely love my job that I have my nine to five. But I also have this passion project this this other thing I want to do, and it’s okay to have a foot in both places. And there are people who do that really well too. So I don’t think it has to be one or the other. I think that it doesn’t like the like will say like leave your corporate job and go all into your business or, you know, some people aren’t just made for business, they’re made to work for somebody else. I think there’s also a group of people in the middle that can have their full time nine to five job and also build this business on the side. And you know, and that’s totally fine too. It’s you have to find what makes the most sense for you, for your family and for what time and energy you’re willing to put into it.

Katie Brinkley 27:27

Thanks so much for listening to this episode of Rocky Mountain marketing. As always, I’d love to hear from you. You can visit my website at Connect with me on LinkedIn or check me out on Instagram. Let’s keep taking your marketing to new heights.