Since leaving my corporate job in Finance to start Romp + Tumble, I have been asked a lot about my “why.” I have received equally as many questions surrounding the “how”. For me, the why is easy. I believe that with Romp + Tumble I can drive meaningful and sustainable change in the lives of busy parents. I know that our model is new and will take a number of iterations to fully take hold but I have the willingness to see it through. Today, I focus on the “how” because...well I think it’s a very overlooked but important facet of the transition from a full time corporate role to entrepreneurship.
Getting comfortable with transition. It took about two years from the time I decided that I wanted to do something on my own to actually executing it. During this time I knew that my goal was to create a new model for working parents in order to ease the burden of work they did at home. But for the first year, I didn’t know what form that was going to take. Once I decided on renting baby clothes, I engaged in customer discovery to see whether it was a viable idea and created a plan for moving forward (all the while working in finance). I talked about my idea a lot outside of work. The more I talked about it, the more comfortable I got. Straddling my two worlds for a prolonged period has been great mindset training. As early as Romp + Tumble is, we are perpetually iterating and transitioning and I feel better prepared to drive this.
Understanding what you and your family needs before you make the switch. This is not just about money. Yes - you need to be comfortable with your finances and be aligned on a plan for investment. But if you are a Mom with a spouse, like I am, you also need to have a plan around childcare and domestic labor at home. I have seen too many situations where a woman leaves her corporate job in order to start her own company and suddenly gets the full impact of the childcare, house cleaning and cooking which makes starting your own company unfeasible. Covid and 2020 came with its own set of challenges, but what helped me was to have a plan and get buy in from my husband prior to leaving. I can’t stress enough how important this piece of the puzzle is. Find resources to help you - I know a number of women who have read “Fair Play” by Eve Rodsky and used the cards to help divvy up the work. Also, during the transition period my time and focus was even more fractured. So, I intentionally decided to involve the kids in starting the new company. This includes the website and logo as well as ordering and packing. If you are a customer you will see that my children are prominently displayed on our “tip cards” which are included in each order. While we are not a traditional family business, everything I do is somehow connected to my children with the aim of creating a better world for them.
Releasing your old identity. This was the hardest part for me. I was so emotionally tied to my role in finance that it took the better part of the two year transition before leaving to get comfortable with not linking my whole self to the career I had worked so hard for. In fact, I worked with a coach for about a year and half before I left to help me change my mindset and remind myself that even without my title or the money that went along with it...I was still me. It wasn’t until I let go that I was able to re-imagine a new role for myself and a new goal to work towards.
Everyone’s journey is different, punctuated by the many twists and turns that only we can uniquely appreciate. While mine is far from over, the last thought I will share is keep discovering and inviting new people into your tribe. Once I left, I found a group of women with whom I still meet weekly that are going through similar transitions. And they have made all the difference. Somehow, knowing that I am not going it alone keeps me looking forward and not backwards. Would love to hear from others what their experience has been. Please share in the comments.
Tara Ghei is the founder of Romp + Tumble. Prior to founding Romp + Tumble, Tara was a finance leader and held positions at a number of Fortune 500 companies including WestRock Company, BlackRock and Ford Motor Company. Tara has her B.A. from the Bryn Mawr College and her M.B.A from the Kellogg School of Management. She has a dual career household and is currently “virtually” schooling her two boys.