August 30, 2023

My Path to Entrepreneurship

I'm Melissa
I'm a Career and Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech. I've been where you are, and I help you create the career you want without working more hours or settling for good enough.
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In July, I sat down with Matt Wilson who is the Founder of Hustle Productions. He invited me on his podcast to share my journey from working in Pharma to starting my own business. Spoiler alert but Matt and I met working at AstraZeneca.

You’ll hear more about that in the episode. Given the conversations I’ve been having with clients lately and some of you reaching out sharing you really love hearing more about my story, I decided to share our conversation with you.

I share what prompted me to start my business, my advice if you’re looking to do the same, as well as the development and skills you build to do so. I also talk about who I work with and some of the biggest challenges we tackle together.

What you’ll Learn:

  • How I decided to go from employee to entrepreneur
  • My advice for anyone looking to make a pivot in their career
  • The skills and growth that you need to do something new The tipping point that made me take the entrepreneurial leap

Connect with Matt Wilson and Hustle Productions:




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Welcome to Your Worthy Career, a podcast with me, Melissa Lawrence. I’m a career and life coach with all the corporate credit and talent development and organizational psychology. I help women like you get extraordinary results by being more you, not less. I won’t just help you have a career experience worthy of you, but I will help you build your self-worth to shift what you think is possible and take the action that will create the career you’ve always wanted, whether it’s more meaningful work you’re passionate about, making more money, getting to your next level, or being more effective as a leader. We are shattering the glass ceiling here, the one that exists for women at work and the one we put on ourselves with our doubt and inner critic. Each week, you will get practical teachings grounded in neuroscience and effective career development strategies. You’ll experience deep mindset shifts and the perfect amount of woo. So you can run your career with ease rather than your career running you. You were born for more, and I’m going to help you get there with maybe a few dance parties along the way. Your up-level begins now. 

Melissa Lawrence (01:20)

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode. This week, we are doing something a little different. Over the last few weeks, I have been having more conversations with clients about what it was like to start my business. Some of my clients start their own businesses after they go through my career discovery process or they may go into consulting. But sometimes this topic and my experience in it is relevant because I know what it’s like to venture into something brand new or to be in a place where you’re doing something that maybe you never thought you could or that you would, or to want something more and to build a skill and be worried that if you take that step that you’re going to fail. I know what that’s like. And in July, I sat down with Matt Wilson, who is the founder of Hustle Productions. He invited me on his podcast to share my journey from working in pharma to starting my own business. And spoiler alert, but Matt and I met working at AstraZeneca. You’ll hear more about that in the episode. Now, given the conversations I’ve been having with clients lately and some of you reaching out, sharing that you really love hearing more about my story, I decided to share our conversation with you.

I share what prompted me to start my business, my advice if you’re looking to do the same, as well as the development and skills that you will build if you do so. I also talk about who I work with and some of the biggest challenges that we tackle together. Now, I can’t wait for you to give it a listen. Without further ado, here I am pulling back the curtain in my conversation with Matt Wilson of Hustle Productions.

Matt Wilson (02:57)

Hey, everyone. Welcome back to our second episode of Hustle Productions. What’s Your Hustle Podcast? This is episode two. We are here with Melissa. How are you doing?

Melissa Lawrence (03:10)

Hey, I’m good. How are you? 

Matt Wilson (03:12)

Good. Tell me a little bit about your business, right? We’ve talked a little bit back and forth, but give me a little rundown of what you do and your business.

Melissa Lawrence (03:20)

Sure. I’m a career and leadership coach for women that work in pharma and biotech. What I help them do is when you’re in your career and you work really hard to get where you are, and then you’re like, Oh, this is it. This isn’t really what I thought my life was going to be like. I’m not really making the impact that I want to. I’m not really energized by my work. I help them figure out what that next step is, whether it’s a promotion or moving into a new role or even starting their own business. I just help them figure out what is that meaningful work path going to be for them. And then the other piece is helping them be a standout leader that’s confident and the leader that people want to work for because I think there’s really a gap when it comes to providing skills and tools that managers need that are really tactical and practical and allow them to really be themselves and not just like a cookie-cutter version of what they see around the leadership table. I help them figure out what type of leader they want to be so that they are really effective in their role and then also can advance their career..

Matt Wilson (04:16)

How did you get into something like this?

Melissa Lawrence (04:20)

I’ve been in some form of developing other people pretty much my whole life. But my career in the industry was really around talent development and training and learning. I started coaching when I worked in industry, and so I would do that as a collaboration with our HR group. Then the more that I did that, the more that I found that it wasn’t really authentic to me because there’s always a bias when it comes to coaching internally versus when you’re working directly with a person in their interest without having HR or their manager know or having any conflict. When I was coaching with my last company, I found it to be difficult because not everyone wants to work at that company. Not everyone wants to stay in the role that they’re in. But that was the lens that I had to support people through. It also was just a small percentage of the time that I was able to spend in my role because I was responsible for so much around talent development. I just think I was naturally a coach that started doing this in my or so years and learning and talent development.

Then the more I started making it part of my formal role within the company that I worked for, the more it became apparent that I would be more true to myself and be able to help people the way I wanted to if I did it outside of a company.

Matt Wilson (05:44)

Did you stumble into it through your career at this company, or was it something that you’ve always wanted to do? You saw the opportunity with this company to maybe take on a role that would give you that opportunity?

Melissa Lawrence (05:59)

Yeah. I would say coaching, formal coaching wasn’t something that was really on my radar. Well, how it came to be was I had a lot of opinions about the way that things could be different in the workplace and the way that change management could be handled and the way that employees could be engaged and things that we could do to help employees feel comfortable and safe and engaged and see a future with the company. As I was having all of my opinions and talking to my manager one day in a one-on-one, he had said, Have you ever thought of really pivoting from learning and development into more organizational development and making that a career? I was like, No, I hadn’t really thought about that. That put me on the path. I started looking into that. Then I went to grad school, and so I got a Master’s in Organizational Psychology. Through that graduate program, I was introduced to formal coaching outside of how I had been introduced to it in the past. That led me on a path to then getting a certification in coaching and then taking clients on the side and integrating that into my role where I worked and ultimately leading me then to wanting to do it full-time.

Matt Wilson (07:11)

That’s exciting. You mentioned that your supervisor at the time of this, I don’t want to say discovered, but this push forward, they encouraged you, which you don’t usually see in a larger company. They usually try to keep people. And it might have been the idea that maybe they wanted you to still work that internal route, see what you can do with the employees at the company you’re with. But that’s exciting where you had this aha moment, but it was brought on by a conversation with somebody in your corporate position.

Melissa Lawrence (07:42)

It was. Yeah, and it was more of a… I would say I don’t know how supportive it was, as opposed to you’re complaining a lot about what the leadership is doing. Maybe you should make a pivot and do this more professionally because you have a lot of ideas and you could do it if you pivoted more into the HR talent space. That really, like I said, got me thinking about it. I was lucky enough that in that corporate role, they did really support me in using them while I was in grad school. When I was in grad school, there were a lot of projects I had to do around talent development and coaching managers, and they allowed me to use those projects with our company as opposed to finding another company or nonprofit to do that work with. Through that, I was able to demonstrate the value of that work, which allowed me then to be able to change my role for a couple of years before I left to focus on that organizational psychology and coaching piece.

Matt Wilson (08:34)

Yeah, that’s exciting because it’s one of those where you were finding yourself while also working at this position and being able to almost give a trial run. See how you can really take what you learned in grad school and put it into the real world. And then see, okay, this is actually something I enjoy. When you did that or that transition of, was it something that caught on pretty quick where you were like, Oh, yeah, this is me. This is 100% what I want to do? Then it drove you a little bit further into it, or was it rocky at the beginning?

Melissa Lawrence (09:08)

That’s a good question. I would say organizational psychology is something I’m really passionate about. The work I was able to do with the company that I was working with was really beneficial for me in finding that coaching was the ultimate path I wanted to take. But I have this, the way that I look at my career is I never felt like I really figured out what that ideal role was for me. Every decision that I made throughout my career was just me following some passion that I had to try to figure out what is that path. So even when I was in these successful roles, I always knew that that wasn’t the end game, that there was something more for me. I just didn’t know what it was. Following that passion and making those pivots allowed me to find what that was.

Matt Wilson (09:53)

I don’t know if you know this, and I don’t think we’ve ever talked about it, but your path of working at that 9:00-5:00 and finding what you want to do and your passion, it’s sparked a little bit in myself. I know we’ve gone back and forth when we were working together, and it was one of those where, like I was saying before, you just disappeared. But asking around, it was a good disappeared. You were following what you wanted to do. That’s something that I grew off as well because where I am now is not where I want to be. That same thing. It’s a position that, quote-unquote, pays the bills. It’s a great company, it’s a great business. They do a lot of great things. That’s not where I want to be. This setting of creating and filming, and I talk about it all the time with many people, and I even think I had a conversation the last episode I had, where it was, you had that spark. Okay, this is what I want. This happened to me in, I think, 2015 or 2016. I was like, yeah, how do I get more of this?

I took an unconventional YouTube university learning all my tips and things. I think it was last year when I took my first official course of like, Okay, how do we start putting this all together and then going from there? I feel like I’m a couple of steps behind you in a sense of still balancing the full-time and what I want to be doing, and then hopefully in the future, transitioning to full-time business owner. You were balancing both for a little bit. Walk me through that decision of, okay, I think it’s time to spread your wings and get out into the full-time business.

Melissa Lawrence (11:35)

First, I didn’t know that. It’s exciting. It’s always fun to see the impact that you have that you don’t even know. I know that you’re doing that for people around you also, so that’s really cool. I remember when I met you and you volunteered to take photos for our Network of Women event and you had your business card and you’re like, Hey, I’m doing this. I thought that was so inspiring because you’re finding ways to integrate that where you are as opposed to really segregating it. I thought that that was fantastic. 

I’m glad you asked this question because I was going to ask you if you have that decision point of when you’re going to take that leap. For me, I had established my LLC the year before I left. I had started preparing financially to take the leave to go full-time. It’s always smart. I had the support at home from my wife. I had put all of the things in place to be able to make that jump. I started taking clients at night. It started because I had to as part of my certification for coaching as I had to take a certain number of clients and document the progress or in the process that they were going through and to prove that I knew what I was doing.

I was really lit up by that. It got to this point where I would say it was like the fall of 2019 is when I had everything in order, but I was having a hard time letting go of everything that I had worked so hard for. I hadn’t come from a lot, and I was really successful by my own measurement and from my family’s perspective. I had really come from humble beginnings to say, and I was making more than I had thought I ever would, and I was more successful than I knew I could be. It was really hard to leave that. I found myself coming up with reasons not to leave. For example, we had a bonus period where every year we would get a bonus. I was like, okay, I’ll leave after the bonus period of 2021 to give myself lots of luxurious time to help prepare. 

My daughter, who’s 13 now, was about 9 or 10 then. She had written a letter to Santa that year of 2019 saying that she hoped that Santa could help me leave my job. That I was happy. She’s like, She’s really a life coach and she loves it and hopefully she can do this all the time and can you help her have her business? That really melted my heart and showed me how even if you don’t complain about your job, your kids really can take notice about what’s really making you happy and what’s not. That I was taking to heart. It just got to this point where I decided to hire a coach to help me because it became where it wasn’t a math problem. It was like a Melissa problem. Sure. My breathing was like, I had all the support and all the things that can make me… I was like, No, I can’t give it up. This isn’t a good decision. I need to wait. I need to wait. I hired a coach in the spring. It was May of 2020 after COVID had kicked in. I said, Okay, I want you to help me leave my job by April of 2021, so after that next bonus.

Matt Wilson (14:53)

It’s something where, especially once you get to the point where you’re like, All right. I can make it a few more months, right? Because you have a general idea of what that payoff is going to be.

Melissa Lawrence (15:03)

Exactly. I was like, It’s easy money. I was like, I’m good at my job. It doesn’t take a lot of effort from me. I can do that and bring in the payroll, continue to pad my savings and leave later. I hired that coach in May of 2020, and I gave my notice in the beginning of June. It only took a few weeks until I moved up that timeline by a year because I realized it was me holding myself back. Part of that is just, which was my question for you, too, is like working through those worst-case scenarios because if you have that feeling that there’s something more for you, if you have a passion, if you have something you want to do full-time, you’re the one that can make that happen. Figuring out for me, it was, okay, let’s say it doesn’t work out. Let’s say no one wants to hire me or I don’t make any money, then what will I do? And so working through all of those things helped me just take the leap.

Matt Wilson (15:56)

Yeah. I have that thought in my head or that question, I think, every morning when I wake up is, All right, how do we get to full-time? And it’s transitioned a little bit. It’s how do I get my wife to not be in the workforce? How do I get her to be a stay at home mom with my daughter? Because it’s… I’ll tell you real quick. About a year ago, the idea of daycare was terrifying. It’s nothing on the daycare systems. It’s completely different when it’s your kid and you’re like, I want them to be the safest they can be at all times. That’s obvious with parents. That idea of daycare was frightening. I jokingly told my wife, I was like, Look, okay, one of us has to stop working because we cannot… I don’t know if I can get through this. Obviously, it’s a year later. She started daycare in October of last year. She’s been doing great. We’re seeing huge leaps and bounds as far as just basic things that you want your one year old to be able to do, and they’re great. It was funny, she just got, don’t say promoted, but she moved up to the next age group in class.

All the teachers in the newborn class were like, I don’t know, it was weird. They’re very standoffish, and they didn’t really say anything. Then later that evening, one of them messaged my wife on Facebook and was like, We really couldn’t look at you guys leaving because we would have completely started balling and everything because of that connection. That’s when it set in. I was like, okay, she’s in a good spot. She’s in a good place. I felt that long before, but it was reassuring. 

Back to what you’re saying is that transition. I don’t know if I want to be full-time or still do the balancing act and let my wife stay at home, or it’s something where I’m like, Okay, look, let me see if I can do it full-time. In the perfect world, I’d be able to do both. But it’s seeing what would be better for our family, especially if we’re talking about more kids in the future, daycare is expensive. Like you said, do you always have those things that it’s a Matt problem or it’s a me problem? I can probably do it in the future. I wouldn’t say right now.

More and more growth and consistency is a big thing. I think my biggest thing is like, I don’t want to say put it off, but which way are we going to go? Are we going to me full-time or my wife staying home? And that’s like-

Melissa Lawrence (18:28)

But what if you had both?

Matt Wilson (18:29)

Yeah, that’s exactly it. If we could do both or even if my wife could cut back because she’s a nurse, so they can pick up shifts and do everything. We’ve thrown every idea at the drawing board, and we’re still at that point where we’re like, okay, what do we want to do? But you’re right. You set the next hurdle. Oh, I want to get to here. I want to get to there. Then here you are a year later. Here you are six months later, whatever that time frame is, and you’re like, Well, all right, let me just…then bonus time comes around.

Melissa Lawrence (19:02)

You’re going to wait a little longer. I feel like that either/or thinking, too, that you can’t sustain your family doing the thing you love. I had that same thing. When I left corporate, I set my wife up with low expectations. I was like, Okay, so this first year, I think I’m only going to make $15,000 for the whole year. Just don’t expect I’m going to make more than that. I did way better than I expected because I put that plan in place of giving myself a period of time to really test my theory and really go all in on what I wanted to do. Then if it got to a point where I wasn’t making money after a year, then it was like, okay, then the worst case scenario is I put my tail between my legs and I go get a job. That’s really not even a bad scenario. It’s not. Once I was able to come to terms with that, it made it a lot easier. But that thought error is the same thing I had as it had to be one or the other. I was leaving my successful career to work for pennies to do what I love at the sacrifice of my family. But then what I proved to myself is that wasn’t the case.

Matt Wilson (20:12)

I mean, it’s very, like I said, it’s inspiring. I don’t want to say you took a leap. You didn’t just go out on a limb and just do whatever. You had a plan. You built yourself up. I feel like I’m at that point now. I think you touched on a big point is that support system around you, making sure that you’re all on the same page. I guarantee my wife is probably going to watch this and shout out to her because I’m doing a lot of the filming and the editing and the business side, but I wouldn’t be able to do any of that if she wasn’t doing everything else. I’m not saying I’m completely checked out as a dad, but it’s one of those where you have to have that support, even with close friends, with family. But more importantly, your team. You want to make sure that they’re on board because you already have enough pushing you in the wrong direction with just life in general. Having that support is huge. I think you just had an episode of your podcast where you had your wife, you guys switched roles.

Matt Wilson (21:15)

Yeah, she took it over. That type of thing is awesome. Then it shows and it’s exciting and you build off of each other. Especially with my wife, she’s very supportive like, Hey, what are you going to do today? What’s going on? She understands it’s a grind. It’s not going to be overnight. She’s investing in me, which is giving me more drive to make sure it works. It’s exciting.

Melissa Lawrence (21:41)

Yeah. Another thing to do is really to look at the math, too. Everything seems so much bigger and scarier when it’s just center of head because you think you’re just leaving all of this behind. But you could look at the math, too. For you, based on the salary that you have now, how many clients would you need? What type of projects would you need? Some of the things you said that we were talking about weddings, if that’s something you wanted to pick up just to bring in something because you needed that little boost in revenue, but then you’re doing this other work too, but just knowing that math, that was really helpful for me. This is how many clients that I want to work with in order to make this amount of money. And then how you can build that, that makes it a lot more tangible, as opposed to, I’m just on my own.

Matt Wilson (22:25)

I’m just trying to make money. Yeah, you’re just like, All right, what are we going to do? No, and I definitely have that number. I don’t want to say they’re official mentors, but there’s two gentlemen right outside of Gatorsburg that have really helped me take… I was taking baby steps, now I’m taking toddler steps. That’s great. It was one of those where we went back and forth and talked a little bit. Then they were just like, Hey, look, we see what you’re doing. We see you’re really trying to grow. We want to help you as much as we can. I can’t thank them enough for everything they’ve done as far as structure. That was my biggest thing. Like I said, YouTube University, you can only get so much out of that where you almost need that mentor. Somebody that’s gone through the ups and downs and the, Oh, don’t do it this way because that way never works type thing. I don’t want to say it’s a cheat code. I was actually just listening to Mr. Beast – I don’t know if you know.

Melissa Lawrence (23:19)

Oh, my kids love Mr Beast.

Matt Wilson (23:21)

Yes. On the podcast I was listening to, the last thing he ended with, excuse me, is mentors are the cheat codes of entrepreneurship. Get with somebody or a coach, somebody that can point you in the path and make sure that you’re doing things the right way. And not so much the right way as like, Oh, you need to do it X, Y, and Z, but make sure it’s on your path.

Melissa Lawrence (23:46)

Make sure it’s there. Yeah, share their lessons learned and maybe help you think about things that you hadn’t.

Matt Wilson (23:50)

Sure. My next question for you would be, so you had this, I don’t want to say, turning on the tides, leaving the corporate job. Do you use what you learned through that process to help you with the coaching? Like help you put back into your business, like learn from experience type? You can point people in the right direction.

Melissa Lawrence (24:10)

Yeah. I have a process that I created that helps them figure out. It’s like 100% works every time, and it helps them. We create what is called a career protocol, and it identifies specifically what it is they want out of their role, and then I help them achieve that. I definitely leveraged my experience of course. I think what makes my service unique or really valuable for the people that I work with is that it’s coaching, but also consulting because I have a career in talent development. That’s an area of expertise that I have. I know the skills that are needed. I know what it’s like to work in the industry. But then I’ve also done things for myself, like navigated promotions or being the only woman in the room, or I’ve written my own job description at my last company, and I’ve been able to negotiate what I do based on what I’m interested in, and so I’ve helped a lot of people do that also. I definitely am able to take things that I’ve done and leverage those, but then also then with my own coaching processes. Sure.

Matt Wilson (25:14)

Do you see your clients? Are they more trying to get into a better position, get a promotion? Are they trying to do what you did where they’re moving into entrepreneurship or business owning their own business? A mix in between. Give me, I don’t want to say a breakdown, but you know.

Melissa Lawrence (25:33)

I mean, the ones that are looking to make a career change, they’re in a place where they feel stuck and they’re either trying to get promoted and that promotion isn’t happening. They know that they want that next level and it’s just working out for them, and they’ve tried everything that they can think of and they’re just staying stuck where they are, or they’re at a place where they want a change in their career, but they’re not sure what it is. They’ve worked really hard. They’re usually very academic, gotten to a certain point, and then they’re like, Okay, I’m not really happy with what I’m doing, or I don’t feel I’m making an impact in the work that I’m doing, or I’m bored. I’m not passionate about what I do, but I don’t know what it is that I want to do. It’s different from us where we were like, This is what I want to do. How do I get there? They don’t know what it is that they want a lot of the time. That’s what my process goes through, is identifying exactly what it is that they want.

Matt Wilson (26:22)

Yeah, okay. What challenges come with that? Is it something where you see the same recurring challenges throughout everybody? Or do you get something a little bit different every time? What are the big things you see?

Melissa Lawrence (26:37)

Yeah, I think it’s definitely very similar. I just started pivoting more to group programs because I am having the same conversations over and over again, one-on-one. That feeling of where they want to be and where they want to go is the same. The other piece that is similar is really just the confidence piece of making a change, stepping out on your own. A lot of people will tend to lose themselves in just the way that our society is. I mean, from the time that we’re born, we are being conditioned to be someone other than who is naturally us. An example I like to use for that is really simple is that when you’re born, you’re born naked and then someone puts clothes on you and decides you have to wear clothes and these are the clothes you have to wear.

Matt Wilson (27:20)

I typically say shoes because that’s our big thing that we’re doing with our daughters. They do recess and everything. Okay, time to start wearing shoes every day. Now there’s Velcro on the shoes, and now Velcro is now something fun to play with. But now that’s a really good analogy if you are being molded.

Melissa Lawrence (27:39)

Exactly. That’s a great way to put it. Then you’re also being taught that there’s a right way to do things. You have your parents meanwhile, or your caretakers around you that are showing you what’s right, what’s wrong, what success is, how much money you should make, how much money is too much money, how you should feel about yourself, who’s pretty, who’s not. All of these things you’re being taught as you’re growing up and then you’re in school and there’s a grading system where it’s you want to get an A. If you’re not getting an A, you’re not smart enough, which is really arbitrary, and there’s standardized testing where you’re just learning to pass a test. You do the same thing in college, you do the same thing in your career. When you’re in your career and you’re putting on a rating scale of your three, meaning your meeting expectations, you’re a five, you’re exceeding, you’re taught again to look at what other people are doing that are where you want to be and mold yourself into that. What happens is a lot of the people that come to me are 30s, 40s, 50s, even 60s, and they’re like, Okay, I don’t even know what I want anymore.

Melissa Lawrence (28:37)

I don’t even know what is going to make me happy at this point because I’ve lost myself. That’s a lot of the work that we do too, is bringing them back to who they are and what’s authentic to them. What are those things that are really going to light them up? What are their talents and their skills that maybe they’ve forgotten about? Then we amplify those and figure out what role is going to be best for them. That is all the same with everyone that I work with, as well as my process includes a testing component too, because I don’t want to throw anyone into something that they’re not ready for because the grass can seem greener. Then they go and test it out and they’re like, Oh, this isn’t really what I thought it was going to be. We want to make sure that it’s actually going to be the right fit for them before they say, for example, leave their full-time job and go full-time into something else.

Matt Wilson (29:21)

It’s funny because in my last episode, we were joking, and I made a statement. It was a quote that I’ve heard, and I even made sure I was like, Look, I didn’t make up this quote, but it applies to this, is that sometimes the grass isn’t always greener. Sometimes it’s artificial turf. Sometimes it looks nice, but once you get over there, you’re like, I don’t know. But that’s a good way to put it. You’re there to help people figure out what they want to do. What is it that they truly will make them happy? I think for me, it’s stuff like this. You were saying with challenges that you see where you have consistent but also new challenges.

Melissa Lawrence (30:03)

Yeah. It’s not always a drastic jump either. Sometimes people are afraid to even figure out what they want because they’re worried that it’s going to result in them having to quit their job. It’s almost like ignorance is bliss. Like, well, what if I discover that I would rather have my own business or I would rather work in a totally different industry or department and I start over? That seems more scary than just being unhappy right now because it’s good enough. They can convince themselves to settle. But it’s often not really drastic. I’ve definitely had people that have gone into consulting or started their own business and left industry or worked within industry, or I had someone that really wanted to have a horse farm. All different things have come out of that process, but a lot of times, I would say 95% of the time, it’s really just tweaking what you’re already doing. You’ve lost your drive, but there are things that you can do to even change the role that you’re in or maybe move into another department and get some experience somewhere else. Or sometimes it’s even just finding hobbies and things that you love that you just lost track of and just integrating them into your life because you’ve gotten into a routine of just going to work and it’s just good enough and you’re not energized and then you’re taking care of kids and you’re doing all these things and you’re just not having anything for you.

It’s just figuring out what that thing is for you. Then sometimes it’s a big change and sometimes it’s not. But the outcome for everyone is that you know exactly what you want. You’re more confident in who you are and the value that you want to bring to yourself and to others. You’re working less. Most times if you’re moving into a promotion in another role, you’re definitely making more money.

Matt Wilson (31:41)

And I can build off that because I think the last time we were working together, I was in one department. Since then, I’ve switched, which catapulted me into being able to do more of my business, going from working 9:00 to 5:00 or 7:00 to 4:00, whatever it was at the time, to now switching shifts and working on a little bit of not the daily schedule you hear everybody work, open that door of getting the best of both worlds, getting the opportunity to still hold on to that full-time job, go in and punch the clock, do the normal thing, but then also have the opportunity outside of that to then really get a trial run, really see like, Okay, is this something that I can do? Is it something that I want to do? A lot of times you see people, you might have seen it more than others, jump into something and then they’re quickly like, Nope, I changed my mind. Or the opposite, where they’re like, I’m so glad I did this. I actually was talking to my wife about a month ago when I said that initial change from department, that was a very challenging decision for myself because I enjoyed who I was working with.

The job wasn’t hard. I would find that I didn’t have enough hours in the day. A lot of people probably come across that. But it was one of those where it was a very difficult decision of leaving and going to a completely different department, doing a completely different line of work and really like, Okay, what is that going to do? One of my closest friends I worked with every day, we would hang out outside of work, the whole thing. Then about a month ago, I told my wife, I was like, I’m so happy I made that decision because it has really gotten me the opportunity to really do what I enjoy while also having that safety net of the full-time job and seeing, Can I do this? Is it something that I want to do? And like what I was saying, you get that trial run. And I think that decision was one of the better decisions that I’ve made. And obviously, everything happens for a reason. I think that that was one of those reasons like, Okay, here’s the opportunity. It was one conversation that sparked this idea. I ran with it, and now here I am.mI’m like, Okay, now I actually get the opportunity to try to do what I want to do.

Melissa Lawrence (33:57)

Yeah. And I think that is definitely valuable. Same with me. When I started my career when I was out of high school, I started thinking I was going to be a social worker. I worked in child welfare for a number of years, and then I decided that’s not something that I wanted before I moved into industry. All of those experiences are little clues to what you might like. I’m really a big proponent of having mentors, of saying yes to things, even if you’re not sure it’s a good fit for you just to check it out, just to see what you like and what you don’t like because it’s definitely going to give you data. Then what I do with my process is I really try to collapse that timeline. Instead of spending like I did years trying to figure things out and then getting the courage to make the change is really getting clear on what you want within a couple of weeks. Then let’s figure out if that’s a good fit for you. The horse farm client that I had, she really was excited about leaving her industry job and having this horse farm.

Melissa Lawrence (34:57)

Then we did the research, we did the testing out, we did some networking where she got to know a little bit more about what that would take and decided that’s not actually something that she wanted. It was actually more work than she anticipated because of that grass is greener. It’s just like, I’m just going to be on the horses all day. It’s going to be amazing. Then you see the cost involved, the space you need, how much work it really is. Then what we found is that there was actually a volunteer organization that used horses with children as part of therapy that she wanted to get involved with. She did that with her career. Then we just tweaked what she did for her role, and made her role more meaningful. She was able to be on more projects that she really loved. She got promoted. Then she did this on the side. That combination was what really set her on the path to her own happiness. That’s awesome.

Matt Wilson (35:43)

That’s exciting to hear because, again, you are helping people figure that out. It’s got to be very rewarding on your end. Obviously, you run a business, you want to make as much money as you can, but at the same time, you’re getting more value than the dollar, right? More value than what they’re paying you to help them with. You get to see them go from, I’m not sure what I want to do to, I can’t believe I’m finally doing what I enjoy. That’s got to be priceless, I.

Melissa Lawrence (36:13)

Guess, is a good way to put it. Yeah, for sure. Honestly, money wasn’t a big motivator for me. My wife always reminds me when I have a goal and I don’t meet it or I try something and it doesn’t go as well as I thought it was going to go, that I said when I started my business, if I could just help one person, that it would be worth it. Because the idea of someone trusting me, hiring me person to person, not because we work together or I had a company behind me other than my own, and me being able to help them be happier in their life to overcome trauma they’ve had, all of these things that I help people with to help one person is so meaningful. Now I’ve been lucky enough to do that over and over and over again. But that’s really what drives me is it’s just when you think about the ripple effect of that work where there are better parents, there are better partners, there are better friends, they’re happier, they show people what’s possible. That changes the whole generational line that they’re in. That really motivates me to be able to make money to do that is just icing on the cake.

Matt Wilson (37:11)

You don’t even think about the money side. You’re just more happy with helping the other people side. I have a very similar mindset. I do a little bit different business. But at the same time, I enjoy helping one of the last businesses I worked, made content for. They’re like, Hey, work. This is month two. We are brand new in the business. I said, All right, let’s do what we can do. Let’s work at your pace. Because obviously, it’s tough doing stuff for free where it is beneficial in some situations, some it’s not, and you really have to figure that out along the way. But I was one of those, I was like, Look, I’m here to help you. Let’s capitalize on everything that I can do for you while I’m here. And that same idea, right? That promotional video and then cutting up little clips for them to then use on social media. I think a lot of people don’t realize that you can really value stack a lot of things you do, especially on social media and content. That’s where my, I don’t want to say expertise, that’s exactly what I’m trying to get into as far as showing people like, Look, there’s a way to value.

But going off of what you said is like, I saw this business brand new. They’re still exciting. We just started. They were a brick and mortar, or they are a brick and mortar. It’s one of those where I’m like, More power. I wish you all the success in the world. My biggest thing is I always follow and stay up to speed with all the businesses I work with because I want to see them grow. And if it’s not through me, and I tell them all the time, for example, if we start talking about content, Look, I’m going to pitch you my idea. I’m going to tell you what I can help you with or how we can… All the different things we can do if you want to go forward with it, I’m all for it. Let’s get started. If you’re like, Look, it’s not my budget, or I don’t think it’s something that we want to do, that’s fine too. I still want to see you succeed. There’s nothing that will… I’m not going to be like, Oh, well, they don’t want to work with me. I’m going to… No, I’m going to follow you.

I’m going to support you. I’m going to comment and do everything I can because I know from the business side, it’s tough. And seeing that success really pays off in the long run. Yeah.

Melissa Lawrence (39:13)

And you know what? Such great things like elevating small businesses, whether it’s having people on your podcast here or even finding places to film that’s giving people more exposure. I think that’s great. I’m similar in the way that I approach my business is I don’t. I don’t slide into people’s DMs or anything like that. I share what I know. I share value to try to help people. They reach out to me. We have a consultation call usually, and then I share with them my process and how I can help them. If they’re like, Yes, let’s do it, great. If they’re like, No, it’s not the right time for me to invest, or whatever it is, then that’s fine. That’s why I have my podcast. That’s why I do different free things so that people can always get some help from me regardless of where they’re at and their ability to invest financially. Yeah.

Matt Wilson (40:00)

I’m very similar. I catch myself not posting as consistently as I want. That’s one of my 2023 goals is, okay, let’s get more consistent. I just realized we’re halfway through the year. July is six months just halfway. It’s one of those where I’m like, All right, let’s start. Even for the past two weeks, I think I’ve been a little bit more consistent. It’s one of those where I want to see people grow. Even if they’re not working with me directly, I do. I put out tips. I think the last video I put out was talking about reminders about posting, right? Something that I use myself. I’m like, Okay, let me just make a 30-second video talking about this, and maybe it’ll help somebody get a little bit more consistent with posting. It’ll come across somebody’s plate and they’ll see it and it’s like, Oh, it’s great. Then they’ll just keep on moving. I know that I’ve helped them even if it’s just a little bit, it’s still worth it, right?

Melissa Lawrence (40:51)


Matt Wilson (40:52)

All right, so the last question I’m going to ask you, and then we’ll wrap it up, is what advice would you give somebody, or coaching advice, however you want to see it, that’s looking to jump into starting a business or not even jump into, but just starting a business in general?

Melissa Lawrence (41:08)

Yeah, that’s a big question. I definitely think that if there is something that… If you don’t feel like you belong in the corporate space or you just have this idea of the solution that you can help people with, businesses are really just providing solutions. If you have a problem that people have and you have the solution to it, you could have a business if that’s something that you want. You won’t know until you try. If you can set yourself up to be able to just try, whether it’s on the side or if you’re fortunate enough to just go in full-time right away, whatever it is, but you’re not going to harm anything by trying and just getting started. There’s a lot of information out there. With that said, I do think it’s important that you don’t get so caught up in what everyone else is doing for your business. That’s just a lesson that I learned. When I started my business, I knew I had a solution I could provide and that it was valuable. I was new to being a CEO. I was new to marketing myself. I looked to other people to help me with those things when I realized, Oh, wait.

At first, I had a lot of clients coming from where I used to work because I was that talent person. I was like, Oh, now you’re over here. Okay, you can help me over here. But eventually I had to get broader. To market myself was a new skill that I had to learn. There’s a lot of advice out there, but it’s also based on what worked for them. Everyone has their own business model. I’ve gone the long way, but I think that you have to just, at the end of the day, follow your own intuition around what works for you, the business that you want to have, not to lose sight of that, like we talked about before around starting a business and then you’re going to get caught up in the money or caught up in the grind and you forget why you started that business to begin with. A lot of that is just staying true to you. You can figure anything out. Everything is a problem that can be solved. When I started to look at things that way as whatever was happening in my business, this is just a problem and I can solve it, things just got a lot easier.

If anyone’s looking to start a business, I would say just try. It’s a lot easier than you think. I thought to establish an LLC to start a business was very fancy and not for me. I don’t know who was doing this, but that was too fancy. Maybe you needed a lawyer or something. But you could actually, for Maryland, you could just go online and just establish your LLC and they take a little bit of money from you, but then you’re good to go. Yeah.

Matt Wilson (43:30)

It’s not easy to do anything. It’s one of those where you have a lot of… There’s a lot of resources. I did the same thing probably about a year ago, maybe a little less than a year. It was one of those, okay, let’s start getting official. A lot of it was before, and I’ll be the first one to say it was on the side, not really officially a business. Then I was like, No, that was my first step. It was, Let’s make it official. Let’s really invest and really put that title to it, the LLC behind the name. Like you said, it’s a lot easier than people think. There’s a lot of resources that will help people. It might be a little bit more pricey because everybody sees a problem, they have a solution. That was my first… I have a business degree, and that was the first thing I learned in businesses. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, right? But there are resources for people to use if you want to start a business, if you want to become, I don’t want to say legitimate, but having that LLC or SP or whatever route you want to go or whatever works best for you, you’re right. It’s a lot easier than people realize, for sure.

Melissa Lawrence (44:35)

Test your theory. I think myself included, a lot of people take things really seriously. Now I’m a business and I have to be this certain way. All you have to do is meet people, network with them, tell them what you do and offer to help them. That’s really all that it is. It’s just building relationships and offering to help people when they’re interested in what you have to offer. You can build a very successful business that way. It doesn’t have to take more than that. You don’t have to do paid ads and you don’t have to do all these other things. You can just go out and talk to people.

Matt Wilson (45:09)

I think sometimes people will get, I don’t want to say bogged down, but they’ll think they have to do all of these crazy different things. I’ve ventured into some of the paid ads and the whole thing. It’s one of those where I feel like the really biggest thing to get people that are genuine about wanting to work with your business is that networking, right? Reaching out, whether it be you have a connection with somebody and they’re throwing your name in front of them or you’re getting out. There’s a couple of times where I’ve just walked into businesses. I’m like, Hey, do you guys want a promotional video? Hey, do you guys want to do any type of content making? I’m here. I mean, last week I went up to a car dealership and I was like, Hey, let me just shoot a 30-second video of your hottest car on the lot, something. You guys can use it for free. One, I’m building a portfolio. But two, if they like it, they like what they see, then we open that door. When you can’t… I don’t know, you can’t be afraid, but it’s definitely one of those where you really… That networking is huge with getting in contact, going to your chambers of commerce meeting and really putting yourself out there. It’s tough. 

I almost want to say it’s like the dating game of going and making those connections. But the more you do it, the easier it’s going to be. That was my biggest thing, and I jokingly have a story that I tell people is that the very first time I went to try to talk to a business, I sat in my car for maybe 20 minutes and I was talking myself up and going back and forth. Then I finally was like, Okay, that’s it. I’m going up there. I walked up and I went to open the door and I pulled the door and it was locked. I was like, The business is closed. It was one of those where I was so worried about. I was in my own head that I didn’t even think. And that answer was right there. The hours were right on the door. So it put a reality check in. I joke about it now. At the time, I was petrified. I was like, Oh, my gosh. Then I was like, Somebody saw me.

But it’s that comedic relief of like. It’s a funny story. Now it’s like, well, it can’t be worse than the first time I ever tried going to talk to a business. They were closed. I build off of that. I’ve gotten way more. It’s been a little bit easier for myself to talk to people and network like you said.

Melissa Lawrence (47:14)

Yeah, you build your confidence as you get going. I think a lot of people think you have to have the perfect process and the perfect solution just to get started, and you really don’t. The way that I marketed myself and what I called myself when I first started is different than today. I’ve always gone through just saying, This is how I can help you now. Let’s do that. Then it’s just you’ll find, just like when we talked about careers, you’ll find your niche, the thing that you really love, the process, you’ll develop your own IP. You’ll do all of that as you get going, but that doesn’t come until you get going. It is a big test, I think, of your confidence. You build a lot of confidence. It’s putting yourself out there. It’s vulnerable to start a business because similarly, you don’t have a company vouching for you. You are the company. You have to go do that yourself as opposed to… That was something I didn’t anticipate when I worked with my last company is I had this talent and development role, and so people were just sent to me. I didn’t have to market myself. That was my job. 

When I came on my own, I was like, Oh, I actually have to tell people who I am and I have to vouch for myself. I have to build credibility on my own. I don’t have that company behind me that’s saying, Oh, we picked her to do this, so she’s good enough. I had to do that myself.

That’s vulnerable to go and say, Hi, I can help you. Oh, who are you? Okay, well, now you have to show the free value. The worst that’s going to happen when you put yourself out there is you’re going to feel bad.

Matt Wilson (48:41)

Yeah, and people are going to say, No, thank you.

Melissa Lawrence (48:42)

Yeah. They’re going to be like, Oh, it’ll be embarrassing. Then you move on to the next one. The more that happens, the less you’ll feel bad for as long. It’ll just get shorter and shorter and shorter. 

Matt Wilson (48:50)

On the plus side, when you do get somebody that goes, Yeah, absolutely. It makes it that much more rewarding. When you get, No, no, no, yes, you’re like, Okay, I work for this a little bit more. I also see it as I want to put more value in what I’m doing for that yes, because I know there’s a whole slew of nos that are probably going to follow it or may or may not. You never know. But I see it as like, Man, okay, now I got my opportunity. Now I really want to make the best of it. I’m really going to put a lot of work into it. I think that’s the idea that you sometimes have to go through a little bit to get that value. Because one, if it was easy, everybody would do it. I think that’s the number one thing people say about starting a business. Two, you have to earn your keep. You have to get through those hard conversations to finally get in front of somebody that’s like, Yeah, let’s go. Then you just build off of it and brick by brick and you slowly develop your skills.

Matt Wilson (49:50)

It might not be your best work, but as long as your intentions are there, you’re really trying to help them and yourself, and you really want to see it be successful, it’s very hard for it to not be successful. You put in what you want to get out of it almost.

Melissa Lawrence (50:05)

Yeah. I think it’s helpful if you don’t get attached to a yes. If you’re just going in saying, I have this, you’ll start to see yourself as equal to all of the people you’ve maybe put on a pedestal in your life of like, Oh, we’re all just people. We’re all just humans. When you put yourself out there in that way, then you’re like, Oh, I could do this too. Some people like to make that switch of instead of going and saying, I’m going to try to get a client, for example, we’ll say, I’m going and I’m collecting nos. I’m going up and I’m talking to people and I’m just going to collect as many nos as I can because those nos, you’re going to have more nos than yeses maybe, but that’s okay because that’s just part of the business. They might be a no for just right now. I’ve had people that are like, No, not right now. Then they come back to me six months a year later and they’re like, Okay, now I’m ready. Let’s do it.

Matt Wilson (50:54)

The other part of it is you can get value from those where you go through the, I don’t want to say sales pitch, but you go through your offer and you talk to people about what it is you can do for them and maybe you stumble through it. Maybe you learn, Okay, maybe I shouldn’t start with this because they’re quickly not interested. Maybe I tweak how I word it. Or just, How can I go into it differently? If you’re always learning from the interactions, then you can’t really call it a failure. It’s the ones where you’re like, Oh, well, they said no. I’m going to go sit and watch TV for the rest of the afternoon and not really do anything. And if that’s your way of coping, that’s fine. But make sure you’re getting off the sofa and you’re getting right back out there. Tomorrow, you’re hitting two more businesses and seeing what you can do or two more potential clients and see what you can do. I agree, I think it’s a grind for sure. 

All right, well, I don’t want to take too much more of your time. I really appreciate you coming out and sitting down and talking.

Melissa’s stuff is going to be linked in the description. I’m going to put all your social media touch base to make sure I put everything you need in there. This was a great conversation. I want as many people to see you as possible. Like I said, stuff will be linked. Again, very appreciative of you taking some time right before the fourth of July to sit down and talk and the sun’s coming out. Perfect timing, right?

Melissa Lawrence (52:13)

Yeah, thanks so much for having me. 

Matt Wilson (52:16)

Yeah, absolutely. Thank you. 

Melissa Lawrence (52:20)

Hey there. If you’re ready to be in a role you love, I want to invite you to join Beyond the Ceiling, where you’re going to stop feeling stuck, know your best career move, get in a role you love where you can have the impact you want to while feeling more confident and earning more with my proven process. Head over to to get all of the details.

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Hi, I’m Melissa.

Career & Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech

I'm a former Talent & Development leader in Pharma/Biotech turned CEO and Certified Professional Career & Life Coach. I also host the podcast, Your Worthy Career.

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