From a young age, I’ve had what some may call “an entrepreneurial spirit.” Forbes defines it as a mindset. Inc. says it’s the passion to build something great from nothing. Entrepreneur says it’s knowing you were born for business. I’ve recently been sharing with some friends what it is that I do. I’ve always said that I feel grateful to be able to work the way I do. Sharing my story with others is one way I hope to pay it forward—by helping others get started as entrepreneurs. If you’ve considered creating your own work, read on to learn more about my experience in traveling that path.
Having an entrepreneurial spirit has looked like different things to me over the last 20 years. It began with creating a neighborhood newsletter using my parents’ computer. I shared in a previous post how I developed recurring columns in which I interviewed neighbors, shared recipes, and posted classifieds. I sold the printed copies door to door—I was in elementary school. Then, in middle school, I transitioned to babysitting, pet sitting, house sitting, and cleaning. The odd jobs I held in my teens and twenties included bar promoter, student assistant, tutor, and credit union mascot, among others.
Right now, late on a Sunday night, having an entrepreneurial spirit means I’m sitting at my kitchen bar, listening to a baby monitor, typing furiously to respond to emails, writing a blog post, and submitting expense reports. Meanwhile, my dog is fast asleep on the couch, my daughter is slowly drifting off to sleep in her bedroom, and my husband is in the home office preparing to teach his next weekly course at the local law school.
What’s the common thread among all of these entrepreneurial experiences? I think it’s the will to find a need, the willingness to fulfill that need and to do so on my own terms.
Most of my current work is comprised of assisting small business owners. These are individuals who generally have no staff but require assistance with administrative work so that they can stay focused on providing the services that their businesses sell. Their needs are calendar management, travel coordination, bookkeeping, marketing and branding, event planning, and much more. The need is great; I regularly have new potential clients contacting me to inquire about my services.
There seems to be an obsession in our society over titles. I’ve never had any issue with completing any particular job or task, regardless of the title that came along with it, so long as it didn’t contradict my own personal values. My attitude has generally been that if I’m capable of completing the work and the compensation is fair, then I’m willing. Recognizing your own limitations and the lines you’re unwilling to cross are crucial when determining if something new is right for you.
Something that drew me to my husband was his ambition and work ethic. He becomes a business owner effective January 1, 2020, and recently began co-teaching a course at the law school in our area on a weekly basis. Something he taught me is that, as an entrepreneur, you have the right to refuse to work with a client. If the client’s requests are unreasonable or in conflict with the terms you’ve spelled out, the right thing to do is walk away. I’ve defined my terms in the compensation rate I expect, my exclusive virtual availability (with some exceptions), and my selective working hours (Mondays and Fridays all day; Tuesdays through Thursdays between 1 – 4 pm; and early mornings and late nights, as needed). These terms are the driving force behind why I do what I do. When my husband and I set out to start a family, I wanted to have it all; to be a stay at home mom who works from home. Committing to my terms are what allows me to fulfill that dream, and I’m grateful beyond what my words can express to those who support me in achieving it—my husband, our daughter, my parents, my in-laws, my clients, and my friends.
I’d love to hear about your entrepreneurial experiences, your terms, and what inspired you to listen to your own entrepreneurial spirit. Share your story in the comments below!