It started at a barbecue. I was 21 and drunk on fresh dreams and hard lemonade.
Aspiring journalist I was, but as my friends swapped their “Someday, I’ll start my own ____ business that will…” ideas, their entrepreneurial dreams excited me.
“What would your service/shop do differently than the others?” I asked.
They each had a brand vision, a set of unique goals. Inspired by the go-getters around me, I wondered if maybe I could be an entrepreneur, too. One day.
“I’ll help you with marketing and tell the world why your business is awesome!” I promised.
I pictured each of my friends older, but just as enthusiastic, at ribbon-cutting ceremonies and accepting awards for game-changing strategy at industry events.
The world was evolving, led by the internet and rapid technological advances, and we had enough spunk and determination to achieve our dreams and run successful businesses. We were going to do it all, those entrepreneurs and me, and create incredible grownup lives with the Mary Tyler Moore Show theme song playing in our minds.
Then came graduation, financial pressure, corporate ladders, comfort in stability and time constraints tied to hyper-scheduled lives.
And, for me, entrepreneurship became an adventure reserved for the superhuman.
During my 13 years in PR and communications in corporate and agency environments, I worked directly with founders and CEOs who ran businesses of all sizes – from startups to global companies with thousands of employees. I threw these entrepreneurs a zillion questions, as a former journalist would. I listened to and analyzed the tales they shared of sleeping at their desks overnight to get the projects done, the rejections, the unwise business moves, the partnerships gone bad and the big breaks and wins.
My coworkers often described these leaders as CRAAAAZY.
Indeed, they were nuts. Every single one of them. They obsessed over seemingly trivial matters, while showing little interest in taking deep dives on topics we collectively considered critical.
Irrational. Stubborn. Sometimes cheapwads. Sometimes over spenders. Control freaks. Perfectionists.
Working closely with them was often incredibly frustrating but inspire me, they did.
In fact, those bizarre businesspeople fascinated me.
With all of their entrepreneur-itis quirkiness came an abundance of admirable qualities.
They were extraordinarily intelligent strategists. Slick business development experts who wowed clients and closed impossible deals. Pioneers who looked at everything differently. Challengers who bluntly spoke the truth.
Above all, they were fiercely, fearlessly determined.
I began looking at entrepreneurs with extreme awe, assuming they were born with inherent business intuition and know-how like the Shark Tank moguls.
I felt I’d always stay in that comfortable role working for them.
Earlier this spring, I felt it was time to look for a new career challenge. I began interviewing with other companies but found no position that truly excited me.
The difference between my perspective on entrepreneurship back at the barbecue and as I neared the quarter marker of my career, was the disappearance of my belief that I could actually make it as an entrepreneur myself.
One day, I sat at my desk at the office far too late on a Friday, and one of the many crazy entrepreneurs in my life said something that struck me.
“I have no regrets,” he said. “I did everything I wanted to do. I wanted to enjoy coming to work every day so that’s what I did. That’s all I’ll ever do.”
Is that it?
Is that goal strong enough to push a person, despite odds of success, to be an entrepreneur, to do what he/she knows he/she must do – or at the very least, try like hell to do?
Just wanting to enjoy coming to work?
Some sleepless nights later and halfway through another job interview, the idea of starting my own business seemed more and more rational until I concluded that it’s the only possibility for me right now.
I felt a sense of urgency, an expected surge of confidence, an extreme thirst for adventure and a passionate eagerness to use my experience and skills to help other businesses grow.
I wondered if this outlook, with determination, would be enough for me to make it as a small business owner and I wondered if there would ever be another time in my life to take such a leap of faith and discover the answer to this question. Probably not.
So before I could change my mind, I began planning for my business and gave advance notice to my employer so that I could ensure a smooth transition for all.
This is my first official week as an entrepreneur, a business owner and my own boss.
I’m 77% excited/thrilled/eager. 23% terrified.
I’ve been called crazy 11 times in the last week, as I shared news of my new adventure. A good sign? That’s how I view it.
Entrepreneurs? Your advice for this newbie entrepreneur, please. I am all ears.