• Jamie Skinner

Becoming a Solopreneur: My Story

As a new business owner, I love hearing stories from other successful entrepreneurs. It fills me with inspiration and energy. Although I’m only 6 months in, I hope that my story will inspire at least one person to take that leap of faith to work for themselves. My story started first with an attempt – and a failure – which you can read about in My Gritty Start-Up.

I grew up in the small foothill town of Placerville, CA. I couldn’t wait to move away after graduating high school, so I ventured off and lived in the greater Sacramento area for over a decade. I graduated from CSU Sacramento in 2009 with my Bachelor’s in Accountancy and passed the CPA exam in 2015. It was in 2014 that I started and failed at entrepreneurship. By the time 2015 came around, I found myself stuck in a rut and spiraling into a depression. I figured I should be a married, self-employed mom by then, but nothing seemed to be going as I had planned. I was a 29-year-old, single, employed individual.

It was then that I decided I needed a change, I needed to stir things up and get a change of scenery. So, I made the bold move to Reno, uprooting my entire life to make the 2-hour trek. I packed up my things, my big goofy mastiff-mix, and my two cats, sold my condo, and never looked back. I bought a house here just last August, so I’m definitely here to stay!

Hiking with my dog Rocky in Reno.

For the first 4 months in Reno, I completed my then-current accounting job remotely. The arrangement was ideal as it allowed me time to search for a new job and allowed my employer time to find and train a replacement. We both happened to find what we were looking for within a couple weeks of each other, so I had no gap in employment.

My first Nevada job sounded like a dream – a Supervisor for an accounting department at a large gaming company. I was ecstatic to land my first supervisory role since I felt I had been working towards that next level for quite some time. Only problem was, my team was made up of 8 direct reports (which is a lot!) and I was overseeing a department that was new to me so there was a huge learning curve. I quickly realized the job was more hands-off with regards to the accounting and entailed mostly checking others’ work and approving time off requests. This was not what I had hoped for and I soon felt overwhelmed with feeling like I had made a mistake taking this job. I resigned.

I was unemployed for a month, right around the holidays, which – to say the least – was pretty crummy. I was facing rejection from job interviews like I had never faced before (since it had never happened to me previously, I always got any job I went after). Not only was the job market smaller in Reno, especially for the senior positions, but my short stint at the last job and multiple jobs held not more than a year was being seen as unstable to potential employers. At one point I was getting close to desperate, so I decided to get creative in my job hunting. I started scouring websites of local companies in search for emails of CFO’s. I would reach out to them directly to see if they were in need of someone with my particular skill set. It just so happened that one CFO was looking for what I had, so we met for lunch and thereafter I was hired on as the senior accountant.

I was grateful for the job and I certainly gained experience in a multitude of new industries –entertainment, sports, restaurant, and retail. I used my knack for process improvement to enhance the accounting procedures. They became so efficient, in fact, that my workload diminished to less than a 30-hour week for me. I was starting to feel stuck in a rut again. I couldn’t help but feel that I wasn’t meant to be trapped in a regimented accounting job working for The Man. I had a gift for implementing great change. Once that great change is working consistently, I need to move on to another change project.

When the CFO approached me about the opportunity to pursue entrepreneurship again and keep them on as my first client, I jumped at it! I knew that a stable client was part of what I was missing the first time around. They were a reputable establishment in the community which would add to my credibility, plus it was enough work to support me financially so that I could avoid taking on any debt this time. Money was tight for a while, but I pushed through and am now in a comfortable place. I started my MBA this semester (I only have one final left, woohoo!) and am proud to say that paid my tuition in cash and plan to do so until I graduate in May 2018.

Working for myself certainly has its ups and downs. I am working towards financial freedom and flexibility in my schedule. Right now, I am working long hours and often don’t break on the weekends, but I will tell you it’s damn rewarding since I’m doing it for myself. I also get to spread my love of accounting and process improvement to other business owners, which I feel so fortunate to do. I’m always meeting new people, learning about their businesses, hearing about their journeys, and if I’m lucky enough, I get to join in on their journey and make a positive impact. That is what entrepreneurship is all about my friends!

Reno has been pretty darn fantastic to me, both for my personal and professional lives. If you’re thinking about making that huge leap into being a solopreneur, are thinking about moving to the Biggest Little City, or both, I invite you to jump fast and steady and know that you will land with both feet planted so that you can walk – then run – towards your dreams.

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