Guest post by Amy Abrams ( learn more about Amy at the end of this post).
When I started my career almost twenty years ago, I wanted to find meaningful and creative work, make a good living and eventually have a family. Oh, and did I mention I wanted to travel, take time off when I wanted to and not have anyone tell me what to do? At the time, it sounded like a fantasy. Today, it is what I have achieved as an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurship affords plenty of opportunities. To me, four of the big ones are creating your own job description, building a business that meets your needs, creating something that has an impact and writing your own story.
The most common first question we encounter when we meet someone new is “What do you do for a living?” It is easy to answer that question categorically: “I am an astronaut” “I am a lawyer” “I am a teacher”. But how often do we consider what we really do? Entrepreneurs get to ask themselves this question on a daily basis as they often have a multi-faceted job that requires them to wear many different hats. However, the opportunity for the entrepreneur is in the power to shape their job description around skills and activities that they enjoy most and do best. If there are aspects of their responsibilities that they are not qualified to do or do not enjoy, they can simply hire someone! Entrepreneurship allows you to create and work at your dream job. It is critical that as an entrepreneur that you contribute your best assets to the business so that you enjoy your creation and offer the most value to the business.
Business ownership also offers you the ability to build your business around your needs. For some, this includes autonomy, creative control, unlimited earning potential, and flexibility. Many entrepreneurs start their businesses in reaction to negative corporate experiences — they disliked the clients they worked with because their creative ideas were not appreciated, they could only make incremental salary increases because of the corporate structure, they had to be at a job during fixed hours and received little vacation time, etc . . . And when they started their business they had this need at the forefront. They only selected clients that provided creative and engaging work, they worked on their own schedule, they started making a lot more money. It is important as an entrepreneur to constantly re-evaluate your needs (as they may change) and assess if the business is supporting those needs. If not, you have the ability to make changes to the business so that the business is meeting your needs. That freedom is exhilarating.
Making an impact is no small feat. Small business owners around the world are making incredible impacts on their communities and their industries. Historically, you worked in non-profit if you wanted to “do good work.” Today there are so many opportunities and models of business ownership that provide the possibility to do work that is good and makes an impact. For some business owners, this is about creating a game-changing product. For others, this is about creating a work environment that supports each employee’s contribution and personal growth. For other business owners this is about having powerful connections with clients and delivering the highest level of service. Entrepreneurship allows you to create business goals that can have a significant and meaningful impact. You can look to your business and see that you are making your mark and making a difference.
Finally, entrepreneurship affords you with the ability to write your own story and create your own adventure along the way. You can make changes to the business, scale up or scale back, change your role within the business, create new products and services, work on your own terms and take (as many) vacations as you would like. You are driving the bus. Of course there is risk, and times when you are either working until 3am or just wake up at 3am thinking of all the work you have to do, but there are also the rewards. You are responsible for your accomplishments. And for me, that is more than enough.
There’s no doubt in my mind that entrepreneurship is not the course for everyone. And that’s not a bad thing. As is the case with most things, there is a calculus that needs to be done for the individual entrepreneur, a taking stock to weigh all the factors while recognizing that even so, there are still a ton of unknowns out there. It’s not about having it all. It’s about having it the way you want it and being comfortable with not always knowing where you might land when you decide to take the leap.
© 2011 Amy Abrams, co-author of The Big Enough Company: Creating a Business that Works for You
Amy Abrams is an entrepreneur, speaker and co-author of The Big Enough Company: Creating a Business that Works for You (September 2011, Portfolio/Penguin). She is the co-founder of In Good Company Workplaces, a business community center and co-working space in New York City. Amy is also the co-founder of Artists & Fleas, a weekly marketplace for artists, designers and vintage collectors in Brooklyn. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and two daughters.