So, You Want to Work for Yourself Eh?

I was reading an excellent article on entrpreneurship in Website Magazine written by a 26-year old business owner. While I’m a wee bit older than him (actually much older, ha haa), I agree with much of what he said. You can go there and read the full article here.

Owning a business isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. When I got started, it was 1999 and I was 36 years old. I dreamed of owning my own business, but frankly I thought it would be a lot more work to get started and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to make a living at it. What would I do if it failed after the first year? How would I pay my bills? At that time, I was a widow trying to rebuild my life. It was a typical day at work, or so I thought until my department got the dreaded news…. “We’re eliminating your department at the end of this year…” At the time, I remembered feeling so angry because it was the 2nd time I went through this on a job. I had just bought my car and living on my own thousands of miles away from my mom’s house in Chicago. I didn’t need to hear this news.

However, The Lord had good plans for me that I couldn’t have imagined and I’ll make the story short here. In a nutshell, one of my co-workers went to work for a new temp agency new to the U.S. and the branch offices had no administrative support. She asked me to go freelance. After many telephone conversations, research, and prayer, I saw the writing on the wall. And, I was given a full severance for the five years I had been on my job which was enough to pay the bills while I start my home business.

It was one of the best decisions of my life, however it took some getting used to. As the days grew to weeks and months, I enjoyed it more and more. In the article I read, this part rings so true:

  • “At the end of the day, you need to look at what makes you happy, founder, or an employee.” excerpt from “Who Should be an Entrepreneur” from Website Magazine.

I knew I didn’t want to be an employee so the first year was crucial to see if I could do it. I had to manage my time, because no one was standing over my shoulder. I wasn’t answering to a boss anymore.

If you ask me what traits are essential to be a successful entrepreneur, I would have to say:

  • Believe in your brand. No one will work the business the way you do. You are the owner so if you don’t believe in what you’re doing enough to work the hours necessary, your customers or clients won’t believe in you either.
  • Work hard. You’ll need to be prepared to get your hands dirty if you want results. It will take patience and endurance but if you stick with it, the rewards are endless.
  • Commitment and consistency. A lot of start up businesses close down after the first year and possibly because of being unprepared for the long haul ahead. It’s really important to understand that starting business takes time and hard work. So being committed and consistent is key to becoming successful. In my case, it was five years before I saw any progress. 
Other character traits I think are important is staying motivated and even thinking outside the box in regards to advertising. In the early days, there were times when I struggled, and that will happen, but I kept telling myself that I could do it. I also did a lot of research to keep on top of the industry trends, prayed to keep myself encouraged, and I didn’t skip meals or time to myself. 
I don’t consider myself an expert, just sharing my experience. Your journey will no doubt be different than mine. Through all the ups and downs, I still love the freedom of being my own boss.
If you’re thinking that you would like to be a business owner, I recommend reading the article I linked to and do your homework first. Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone, but neither is working for an employer. Which one are you, only you can answer.