“Build something you’re passionate about. As an entrepreneur, you have to have the passion and drive to stay the course.” — Alexandra Chong, CEO and founder, Lulu
Becoming an entrepreneur fundamentally changed me. I think, dream, live, and love with more honesty, passion, and sense of purpose than ever before. I did not pluck those qualities out of the sky. They are in me. They ignited and are no longer censored or monitored. And I am happier, more grounded, and sure of myself than I ever have been. But I envisioned this. I wanted this.
I’m six months into my new career, and only launched my website three months ago. But, I have already achieved more than I could have imagined. I freelanced in the past but never ran my own business. I do now. I have clients, and I prospect and network constantly. My business is mostly online, but I talk to everyone, and hand out business cards at restaurants, the grocery store, and the gym. I train and learn new skills. I am new at this, yet I feel at home.
Being myself has led me to a special community of fellow entrepreneurs who are now my family. We find each other.
Yes, I’m making money; I’m working. I am not the person to emulate to make fast cash. The money will come. But, my success is in creating a professional life in sync with my personal life, my children, my partner, and my core values.
My life is forever changed. That is priceless. After my divorce, my mantra became: “You get all of Jenny, or none of Jenny.” That freedom is exhilarating; the rewards, astounding. Aligning business with personal values, I believe, is how we find our “true love”—whether professional, personal, or, in my case, both. I am rich beyond any impressive tax return I filed as a software marketing professional.
In the early 1990’s, I was in the University of Washington MBA program. Jim Senigal visited my entrepreneurship class. He was radiant. He worked harder than ever before; he cared more, about his products and his people. And, he surrounded himself with a community—he didn’t call them employees—with fire in their belly, and happiness in their hearts. Senigal is the co-founder and former CEO of Costco.
I was mesmerized as he shared his business model, how and why he built Costco as he did, and how it mirrored how he lived. I got a Costco card immediately. A single, budget conscious graduate student in a studio apartment. I bought dry goods and other staples in bulk. I never ran out of toilet paper. I shopped at the flagship store where Senigal often lunched. He’d grab a hotdog and Coke for $1.50 and park himself at the Food Court just like me and everyone else. He talked with everyone—his people, his customers, and, of course, me. I never left him alone, he knew me as “that woman from the MBA program.” That was in 1992.
Why has that story stayed with me? Not because I think he’s a hero. Not because I have followed his career and think he’s done everything right. No. I remember that day when he was new. A casually-dressed, successful entrepreneur, who spoke with confidence, energy, and laughter in his voice.
I am not going to be the next Costco. I’m fine being Jenny. I love my copywriting business; am thrilled for the future; am surrounded by talented, ambitious, eager, and committed collaborators on any possible project that might come my way; and I am fully loved and supported professionally, emotionally, and socially. All of Jenny. All of her.
My happiness and true love as an entrepreneur is not really bullet-point-able . . . but, I can tell you a few things. And you can have them too.
I am passionate about working and doing what I love. And doing only what I love. I know we don’t all have the luxury to ease into a passion business. Remember, I am not padding a bank account. I am building a life, and building memories. The money will come.
I surround myself with like-minded people. I work with bright, engaged, curious people. Yes, clients choose me, they hire me, it’s a real business. But I don’t have to choose them. Sometimes, I don’t. My professional collaborators and friends are the same. And, after too long in an unhappy marriage, my partner now is passionate, supportive, forward-thinking, and he makes me a better person.
I parent with greater patience, attention, and awareness. I am connected and grounded for my children, and model happiness, empowerment, and creativity. I support my boys’ passions and dreams. They are not my dreams to guide, they are theirs. I know acceptance and appreciation for my talents, skills, and my being. I want my children to know that. I believe they do.
I trust myself. I think more critically and come to decisions with ease. I’m in charge, so I evaluate, reassess, and adjust. If something isn’t working, I can make change. “All or nothing” thinking no longer dictates my actions. I am calm and confident. I have been through the shit and made it out more alive than ever. I can do this. I can do anything.
Small failures and mistakes are opportunities. Particularly when I share them with others, because if we’re honest—we’ve all been there. I put myself out there, I stretch. I break rules. I make mistakes with clients sometimes, usually small ones, but mistakes nonetheless. I stick my foot in my mouth regularly. I say what I think. Particularly in the online world where context is key, I offend or mis-communicate sometimes. I also simply screw up.
But I changed how I look at mistakes. First, I openly share them, admit them, and ask for support. Those who are not supportive fall away, or I let them go. Otherwise, I am reminded that I’m human, and not alone. Second, I own them. I apologize, take ownership, and repair. In business, with my children, with friends, and with my partner. And third, I learn from them. I don’t promise I’ll never make another mistake. I do commit to growth and awareness.
My comfort zone no longer exists. I keep pushing it, and the rewards are endless. I am truly proud of myself. I’m not a millionaire (yet). I’m not perfect. I’m a work in progress. But, I am open now. I am always ready to try new things because I have seen I can—it’s on my terms. When I reach a business or fitness benchmark, a parenting win, or a relationship milestone, I can recognize my effort and success.
Mine is not a best-selling, conference hall seat-filling story like that of Lisa Nichols, one of my new favorite people. But I feel in control of my life. When I get scared, which I do, I remind myself, I got here. I endured challenge. I am also not alone. Ever. Even when I am and need to be. I am a solopreneur and writer working from home. And that is by design. But I am not lonely or isolated. I have such richness of community, support and love. And I found true love, in all things, as an entrepreneur, and in life. I’m not done growing, working, or changing, but I have this. I’ll be fine. In fact, I’ll be great.
Yes, this is my business blog. I am a copywriter and marketing professional. I am also a human.
Would you like to share your entrepreneurial journey? Any questions about how I got here? It was not without help and guidance. Anyone can do this. Please share your thoughts in the comments, and thank you for reading!
Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate. I am so full of thanks it’s spilling out of me. So, thank you, thank you.