Sarah Vermunt is the Founder of Careergasm and the author of Careergasm and Career Rookie. She helps people figure out what the heck they want so they can quit jobs they hate and do work that feels good. Her work has been featured at Forbes, Fortune, Inc., Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and lots of other cool places. She lives in Toronto and online at Careergasm.com.
Tell us about your career path leading up to starting your own business.
I had a breakdown in the middle of a crowded Starbucks. (Yup. Sexy.) That moment was the beginning of Careergasm. At the time I was working as a professor at a business school, and was hunched over my laptop at Starbucks, working on some research. I HATED conducting research. One day I just couldn’t do it anymore. Not for another second. I had a big, fat, embarrassing meltdown right in the middle of Starbucks. The kicker? I was teaching and researching workplace happiness. I gave notice the next day. A career as a professor was not for me. Since then I’ve devoted my life to helping people quit jobs they hate, to getting the hell out of Dodge when they just can’t take it anymore, and to helping people choose careers they can fall crazy drunk in love with.
What made you want to start your own business?
It's funny I never wanted to be an entrepreneur. I've always been interested in workplace psychology, but I thought I was going to pursue that as a professor. Unfortunately, it didn't feel like the right fit once I got into it. (Oy, that's an understatement. I was miserable.) Helping real people with real career problems felt like a way better fit for me. Plus, freedom is really important to me. I have so much of it in my business and now I help other people find their way to freedom too.
How did you go from idea to execution?
Like most people, with a series of experiments — some that failed and some that worked. I wish people would be more open about the importance of trial and error in business. (Guys! Nobody knows what they're doing at first! It's okay!) So many people think you just cook up a master plan and then launch and that's soooo not how it works. It's like a series of small experiments and a bunch of tweaks. This is scary for people because owning your own business is like wearing your heart on your sleeve ON STEROIDS. But every business starts with an idea, and then one client, and then more clients, and if you're doing things right and tweaking things along the way it can snowball into something pretty fucking magical.
What were some unexpected hurdles you faced when starting your business?
Welp. Before I started Careergasm I built a brand I straight-up hated. It was a career coaching company with a very corporate vibe. (which is so not me! I swear like a trucker! I wear glitter sneakers!) On the homepage you would have seen me in a white button-down blouse looking strictly business at a boardroom table. As you might expect, I attracted a bunch of very corporate clients. But those people are not my people. I don't like working with people who buttoned up or too serious. So I burned that brand to the ground after only 5 months and started Careergasm, and things have been pretty damn peachy ever since!
Best advice you’ve received?
Take something you love and find a way to make money doing it. Advice from my Dad. I've aways been the person people go to when they feel lost and stuck, and I LOVE helping people get unstuck, which is what I do every day now, whether I'm helping them make a career change or start their own business.
What does Support Your Local Girl Gang mean to you?
It means helping women free themselves from jobs and identities that feel bad. That's an incredibly hard thing for someone to do, and it's gratifying to be the one that people trust when they're a hot mess.
For work and personal development: Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte, The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks, and (what kind of entrepreneur would I be if I didn't promote my own books?) Careergasm and Career Rookie by yours truly. For fun? Anything by David Sedaris and Samantha Irby.
I lovvvvve The Cut On Tuesdays podcast. Their sign-off "see you next Tuesday" pretty much sums up the cheeky tone.
Calm guided meditation app keeps me sane.