It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, but I was holding onto a secret that I wasn’t quite ready to share. But, as of yesterday, the secret is no more. I’m leaving my steady job during a huge economic downturn…to start my own small business venture full-time!
So, why am I not throwing up yet?
I have to admit, the combination of excitement and freak-out I’m feeling at this moment is pretty high.
This year, I’ve really been focusing on upping my life satisfaction and I have to say, it’s been working. It’s not that rainbows are shooting out of my, um, various parts, but it feels like I’ve become a more centered, happier girl, particularly in my personal life. But, what I hadn’t quite faced yet was my work. It’s somehow fitting that my goal for August was to “start from scratch.”
Don’t get me wrong…I work at McCombs with a great crew—-an underpaid-but-doing-it-anyways group of people who produce pretty compelling content. The problem is that it just wasn’t me. I actually enjoy writing, but only on my own terms–creative writing, particularly of the first-hand-account variety…and I don’t like following guidelines much with it. While the thrill of completing a multipage, challenging profile on someone seems to energize my colleagues, I am the opposite. Even in my high school journalism class, I gravitated towards the ad sales and layout, probably so I wouldn’t have to write as much prescribed copy.
And, importantly for me, I found that being at a business school isn’t a suitable replacement for being in the actual business world.
This wasn’t always the case. As an undergrad (and later grad) student of business, I felt very connected to the world of commerce and loved that feeling. Being relegated (as I felt some days) to writing up the successes of others got to feel damaging to my own self-esteem. Why hadn’t I tried my hand at a business? This feeling was an anchor, though, just bringing me down. Instead of feeling inspired by the stories, they became small beatdowns, which were solely self-conceived and doled out. Business success is not a zero-sum game but I felt always at a loss when it was going on so happily around me, without me. Though I know healthy and well-managed companies buy products, hire people, create new opportunities, and contribute to the wellbeing of everyone, raising all boats as it were, it didn’t feel that way when I was watching from the docks.
“When a nation of shopkeepers is transformed into a nation of clerks, enormous spiritual sacrifices are made.” William Orville Douglas
This quote came up during a recent Communications staff retreat, thrown in as a part of the faculty presenter’s slide deck, and it really rang true for me and gave me a much-needed dose of courage. I know I am lucky at work. And yet, I felt in some way like I had made a spiritual sacrifice…that I wasn’t being Elayne enough. It’s nothing to blame on the workplace itself, or even the job, really.
Looking deep into myself and seeing what I am like, what I enjoy, it’s a few things:
- Being in charge of something that I care about and can nurture over time, from the big picture, down to all the little details
- Taking calculated risks for excitement
- Feeling self-sufficient and worldly
- Being able to share my talents with an audience I can connect with
- Feeling somewhat inexpendable
In short, I want to be a one-woman army for a bit, with a network of advice and support from others who have been there. Not a clerk. Not a communicator. I want to be my own general.
All I needed was an idea to work on–which, as it happens, I had already gotten during the holidays last year and had set aside, like a pile of hemming, to do “later.”
Well, it’s “later” now. I’m not going to sit on the sidelines of business anymore, wondering when the coach’s going to put me in. I’m just going to go out there. So incredibly exciting.
My biggest surprise so far has been the outpouring of support from everyone…and I mean everyone…even my bosses! I am really floored, and touched, that people are so excited to see me try my hand at something so challenging. And perhaps a bit crazy.
I’ll be blogging over the coming months about my startup experience…so far, I’ve already formed an LLC, bought machinery, set up a business account, and have begun to find mentors. Each of those steps definitely merit a blog post (or two) of material…for example, we went to New Mexico over Labor Day weekend to buy the equipment from a 73-year-old guy in a trash-strewn area of literal desert. Quite an adventure, with many more on the way, I’m sure.
What’s the biggest risk you ever took? And did you even think it was a risk at the time?