“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.
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.
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.
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.