On Being an Entrepreneur

being an entrepreneurYeah, I know. The E Word. It’s potentially misinterpreted and occasionally reeks of smarm.

“I’m an entrepreneur!” <eye wink, clicking mouth sound and pistol-like hand gesture fires out atcha>

But I am. I’m an entrepreneur. Solopreneur. Small business owner. Kickass business owner. Gal who pretty much rolls around like a pig in mud because she gets to live what she loves each and every day.

An entrepreneur.

This past weekend, I flew home to Houston for a life long friend’s baby shower. I shacked up at mom’s (yet not in my old room) and got to catch up with my brother after a two-year hiatus. At the baby shower, I met up with gals from high school that I hadn’t seen in 21 years. When they asked, “So, what do you do?”

I just say I own a consulting firm. It’s easier.

Over lunch on Sunday with mom and bro, I sat there faced with two people who are made to work in corporate America. And some people are … they need and want the structure and corporate America is a “fit.” But I also heard endless stories about incompetent coworkers, questionable bosses and wondering if their jobs were going to still be there come X date due to economic conditions, contract renewals and whatnot.

Fuck.

The road-less-traveled that’s led me to being Head Redhead at RedheadWriting LLC saw me in over 20 corporate America jobs before I realized that I’m just not made to do that. And here I was, in front of two of the people I love the most in the world, who felt trapped.

Subject to other people making their decisions for them.

And it sucked.

So I did the only thing I knew how.

“I’m very fortunate that the way I’m built has put me in a position to dictate my own destiny. And I get it – you guys want the things your work environment provides. But I’m not made to wait for other people’s decisions. So I’m in a position where I make them. And I’m lucky. And I’m confident that the two of you will find ways to thrive, regardless of what happens in your chosen environments. Sometimes perceived endings are beginnings. I’m hoping this is the case.”

Not everyone’s designed to be an entrepreneur. But I think everyone has it inside of them to put on their Big People Pants and say THIS IS WHAT I WANT. If you want corporate America, employer-paid benefits, a regular work schedule, paid holidays and company picnics – those things are out there and yours for the taking. My parents and their parents – well, that’s just what you did. But be honest with yourself:

What. Do. You. Want?

As an entrepreneur, I never wanted unpredictable cash flow, expensive self-paid health care or a solo 401k plan with no employer match. I never wanted to take low-paying work to get in the door. I never wanted to work 23 days straight. I never wanted to go years without taking a vacation.

And when I stopped thinking about what I didn’t want, suddenly…I got what I wanted.

A life.

I get to write, strategize and help. I get to speak. Mentor. Laugh. I get to go to the doctor when I need to and I get to treat the people who help me live this life in a pretty stellar manner.

I got bank accounts with black balances and rent checks that cleared with so much ease it was like everyone in the air traffic control tower at my bank took vacation.

My life. One where I can ride my bike – my lovah – anytime during the day because I can still do what I do at 6 AM or 11 PM.

And I can look at my mom and tell her – yeah, if you get laid off, you’re fine.You took care of me for 37 years. It’s my turn to do some taking care of.

I don’t really think about being an entrepreneur. But what I do think about is having a life that gives back to me exactly what I put in it. I don’t feel shortchanged that I’m giving my all to someone or something else and getting jack shit back.

And if you think being an entrepreneur or solopreneur or whatever the hell else you want to call yourself is about being “solo,” I’ll ask you to check that shit at the door. There is a veritable herd of SMART that helps me do what I do each and every day, and I’ll challenge you to find another person who’s gone the non-corporate route who says differently.

It can be a pretty lonely place, sitting atop the stagecoach that drives your life forward. People will fuck you (without buying dinner), you’ll lose faith in humanity (at predictable intervals) and you’ll wonder when client X will finish up project X that they were so hip-hoppity eager to begin (three months ago).

But when you look around and realize what’s really in your life, you realize that there are better places to focus your time. Like on people that bring shit to the table, reinforce the fact that humanity in general does not suck and that there are three new payments for final invoices in your PayPal account.

The people that want corporate America might not get what it is I do for 12 hours each day. But that’s okay. I do. And I know why.

49 comments
rmacklyn
rmacklyn

Being an entrepreneur is not an easy task what we consider preferably. Most importantly the staffs or employees contribution is what that speaks up. Their valuable time does contribute to the growth and productivity of the business that keeps a legitimate importance on the track. And the other important part is the invoicing and billing part. Keeping all of those into consideration, I would like to share here one of my favorite post that defines the tracking and invoicing billable hours without wasting time. Its the post that I came across recently. Check it out here - http://www.replicon.com/articles/tracking-and-invoicing-billable-hours-without-wasting-time.aspx

Vernacular Ninja
Vernacular Ninja

How scared shitless were you when you decided to take the leap from the rat race? I'm seriously contemplating saying "fuck it all," re: corporate 9-5 and shooting for the straight-and-simple part time gig so that I can support my exit and pursue what I do best. It's a constant seesaw battle between "I can do this" and "Ah shitballs and unicorn lasers," but knowing that all of my expertise as a writer and consultant will likely never be truly appreciated in an agency or corp. environment is a strong shove toward the exit sign. Thanks as always Erika ... Stay. Epic.

Bhaskar
Bhaskar

The moment I had to start filling up time sheets at this one crappy job I decided that corporate world was not for me. I just didn't want to slave my ass off for the Man, work within boundaries and in projects decided by the cats high up , all the while living hand-to-mouth on peanuts as they cackled their way to the bank.Now that I am in charge of my own destiny I can feel the adrenaline pumping every morning as I wake up and brush my teeth. Earlier, the first thought on waking up was- Fuck, not another day. Maybe I should phone in sick?I am pretty sure I would have wound up paying some shrink for therapy or a doctor for a damaged heart 10 years down the line if I had kept at being a cog

Extreme John
Extreme John

I couldn't hit the subscribe button fast enough. So happy I clicked this link via Kim Randall on Twitter. I could probably leave a comment long enough to be a post, instead I will simply say that from one business owner to another you nailed it with this post. There's nothing else I want to do and honestly I tried about 20 other things that I was OK at, I'm meant to do this. Retweeted.

Amy
Amy

I'm an inspiring entrepeneur. But I have no idea what to do. What is consulting, exactly? What expertise or major do I need to consult?

davastewart
davastewart

Yesterday, I added up what my annual income would be if everything stayed just as it is now for a year. It was the least amount of money I've made since graduating from college. I don't have health insurance or savings. Right now, we are doing great to pay the light bill and mortgage each month. But I don't care. Because I can see that things are getting better each month. I don't feel strangled or frustrated thinking about my work. If I need more money, I look for ways to find more clients - I don't hope that my boss will see fit to give me a raise. I've never been happier. Paying that mortgage payment is a victory every month.

Cherry
Cherry

I just wrote a good comment/story but then with the storm the elec went off and on and it was lost. So Reds, would you please just say; "Apt story Cherry. Thanks for stopping by." Appreciate it. Cherry

Shireen Gonzaga
Shireen Gonzaga

This is one of the reasons I subscribe to you on FB ... I am not entrepreneur material, but desperately wish I was. Still trying to find my way, I guess.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Billy - welcome to the site! Glad to have you. And let us know when you tell Sam Hill to kiss it ;-)

The Redhead
The Redhead

It's a date. Funny - a year or so ago at Christmastime, I met up with all my high school pals at Rudyards! And if you're interested in mentoring, just drop me a line via my contact form. I'm happy to help where I can :)

D.T. Pennington
D.T. Pennington

I feel ya. Them: "What do you do?" Me: "I write." Them: "Oh, cool. What else do you do?" Me: "Um. . . I occasionally spell?"

Ordinary Traveler
Ordinary Traveler

Werd!! I can't imagine my life in the corporate world either. The only way for me to live happily is to work for myself.

timbrauhn
timbrauhn

Erika - I'm new to this "make your own hours and be happy juggling your projects/clients and kick as much ass as possible" world, but I do look up to you for guidance. Posts like this are why. Keep on rockin, yo. Thank you. I'm here all week.

Cortney Jacobs
Cortney Jacobs

Erika Erika Erika. Where have you been all my life? You make me sigh with happiness and gaze goo-goo eyed at your generously sprinkled f-bombs. This is a WONDERFUL reminder post. Thanks so much for all that positive energy flow you are gushing into the universe. Next time you are "home" in Houston you have a free drink at Anvil/Rudyards/Poison Girl/Richmond Arms or whatever haunt you prefer on ME. We can talk costume construction (yeah, I nearly fell out of my chair when I heard you in the video talking about your degree--that was my last "J-O-B" working for the man...sort of) and rock climbing and make sweet sweet love to our Frescas. (Ok, actually I am off the artificial sweetener these days so I will have to stick with lemonade but by GOD you will have your Fresca if I have anything to say about it!) Ever consider mentoring a new copywriting/SEO/marketing/design talent? I have a nomination for you...;-)

PJ Mullen
PJ Mullen

There was once a time that I wanted to climb the corporate ladder and die in the board room. Thankfully, that desire has passed. I'd much rather get an ice pick to the forehead than deal with the corporate world. I'm happy growing my tiny little fiefdom controlling what I do, who I work for and how much I make so much better.

Billy Delaney
Billy Delaney

I don't have all of that yet, to which you speak of so clearly, but I will. I am in corporate stink right now and look forward, always forward to get the Sam Hill out of there. I am new to this commenting or being in on the conversation but want to say thanks for the post.

Jasmine I. Myers
Jasmine I. Myers

I work for myself, too, and I completely agree, it's not for everyone. I despised working in the corporate world, but I look at my husband and he thrives on that structure. He doesn't love his current job, but ultimately he does like working in an office environment. Me, I'm not a team player. I don't want to go on any stupid company retreats, I am not going to kiss your ass, and I don't give a damn about company perks like Costco memberships. And, yes, I will roll my eyes in every meeting. Fact. Obviously, I should be doing EXACTLY what I'm doing. Great post.

Andrew J. Gay
Andrew J. Gay

That should be like the manifesto that hangs on each of our (the damned... I mean entrepreneurs) walls! People never get what we do as entrepreneurs. Especially those of us who have the smarts, drive and balls to do it all. Sure we sub out things, but we do the shit that matters and we don't whine, bitch or moan like most employees I know. I think there is a little "E" in all of us though, some of us have just fed the beast more than others. I mean really, what is an entrepreneur other than someone willing to go and get what they want. Someone willing to eat only when and what they kill. It's really one of the most primal ways we can live, of course now we do it with microchips, power points and spreadsheets instead of spears and stealth. Even those that choose to "work" for the man are choosing to get what they want, on their terms. Though they would definitely need to ride the roller coaster learning curve and become masters of a budget at first, I think it's within all of us. Some of us do it because we have no choice. I for one am unemployable, I run shit and I do it my way, and more often than not it works great. I also am willing to do more than the next guy or gal to make it work. You know, you're an entrepreneur. I wouldn't know how to live the other way, I've tried several times. I rocked, turned mad profits, the heavens opened, I got the plaque. But it always comes back to the same thing for me, damn I could have made so much more doing that for myself. The choice I do have, the choice we do have that the clock punchers don't is where, when and how we do great things. We choose where, when and how to live. That's what it's all about, living. Here's to all of those "E's" out there that are willing to do more to get more... some might say it's a little early to raise a glass, but hey, we can drink at work! lol PS, print this shit out peeps, post it on your wall, we'll call it "The Entrepreneurs Manifesto", you can thank "The Redhead"! Thanks Red!

Doug
Doug

Love it Redhead. You keep it SO real. I'm in the corporate world and my Wife is a solopreneur artist. I can't write "shit" or "fuck" because someone will get offended (even though they really aren't, they just think they are supposed to be and maybe they'll get some money out of it). I really like reading your stuff.

Mike Masin
Mike Masin

For me, being an entrepreneur is opportunity, not risk. Lifetimes ago, when I worked for a corporation, I worked almost as much as I do now and I was appropriately compensated. But the real prize, being my own boss, wasn't attainable regardless of how hard I worked. Now my work is an investment in myself.

Simon Gornick
Simon Gornick

Very well put, Erika. Especially the part about helping your family. I'm big on that too. The E word is huge right now, and it's going to be part of the "new normal" for a long time to come. Corporate America is fast becoming an anachronism for many people, whose mindsets, experiences, circumstances, and social conditioning just don't prepare them for the alternative - working for themselves. Taking us to this new place is going to be one of the great educational challenges of our times. The irony is that entrepreneurship is nothing new. Before the Industrial Revolution, and the rise of the American Corporation, most people in business worked for themselves, in small companies, or as sole traders within larger guilds. It was a way of living that goes back hundreds of years. I believe that our future relies on us having the confidence to relearn the past.

Trackbacks

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by RedheadWriting, Diana Adams, 【ツ】Ron Callari, Carla Young, Stacey Hood and others. Stacey Hood said: RT @RedheadWriting: The E Word (on being an entrepreneur) – new at RedheadWriting http://ow.ly/2LKLh […]