Lately I’ve thinking a lot about the nature of work, and what work has meant to me throughout my life. I was an only child (don’t judge please!), so I grew up working alongside both my dad and my mom. I learned to build fence, drive a tractor, and knew the difference between a flathead screwdriver and a Phillip’s head when I was eight years old. But I also learned how to cook french toast and clean a bathtub around the same age. (I adored my dad, but I never saw him clean a bathtub.) My mom and dad pretty much followed the “traditional” gender-stereotypes when it came to the division of labor. I, on the other hand, learned about work on both sides of the fence.
So maybe that’s why I was, shall we say, “open-minded” and perhaps a bit naive when I left the world of the home, and entered the world of work outside the family farm. I won’t go into the details of all of my many and varied work experiences, but let’s just say I’ve had a very colorful work life. I’ve been a water skiing instructor, a waitress, a construction worker, a lifeguard, a receptionist, a court mediator, a newspaper reporter, a hospital social worker, and I’ve had my own clinical practice.
I’ve owned and sold businesses, and I’ve realized that parenting is probably the best and hardest job I’ve ever had. Throughout most of my working life and career I’ve been a single mother. And now, as I am experiencing the joys of being a grandmother (holy cow! am I really that old?), I have found myself reflecting on what working means to me, and particularly, why I have always been drawn to creating my own businesses.
Here’s what I’ve come up with: You see, contrary to what may seem obvious to most people, I have found that building my own business has presented the greatest challenges, offered the greatest opportunities, and ultimately provided the most security. That sounds crazy, right? That flies in the face of everything we’re told. You know, “Get good grades so you can get a good job.” Or, “Most people who go into business for themselves fail.” And all the rest.
But here is how I always looked at it. Where do jobs come from? (Kind of like the ‘where to babies come from’ question, only different…) And when I grew up I realized that jobs come from people who own started their own businesses! So. I can put my future in the hands of someone else who started a business (the restaurant owner, the construction company, and healthcare agency) or I can start my own. Granted, starting my own has taken a lot of work and planning, but at the end of the day I am sailing my own ship, directing my own future. And that’s how I like it.
If you have ever had the same sort of inkling – you know, that feeling of “I could do that!” Or, “Someday what I really wish I could do is open my own B and B …” or salon or coaching practice or coffee shop or whatever … Then please, please, please don’t be mislead by the naysayers who think that people who start their own businesses are crazy or irresponsible. In fact, you shouldn’t start your own business unless you are generally a responsible and well-grounded person. But you do have to be confident, you do have to be brave, and you have to be willing to do things that you haven’t done before. In other words, you have to be willing to be uncomfortable sometimes.
Okay, maybe more than sometimes. Because starting and running your own business can be crazy exciting and often scary. But really – it shouldn’t be. Somebody has to be in charge of that business you are working for. It might as well be you. True, not every business will be successful. Know anyone who’s been “down-sized” or the company they were working for went out of business? Know anyone who feels trapped in a job they can’t stand or feels stuck making just enough money to get by? How scary is that!?
As a woman, I have found that having the ability to earn an income, buy a house, go on a trip, take care of my kids – this has afforded me a tremendous sense of freedom and security that I cannot imagine living without. My prayer for you is that if you have the same dream, that you also will experience that ultimate goal of entrepreneurship: the freedom and independence that it can provide.
If I can help you in any way, just let me know!
To your massive success,