I was recently contacted by a young woman dreaming of starting her own business, put in touch with me by someone who knew I had recently done so with a decent amount of success. We had a good chat on the phone, but I was left feeling that I did not adequately get to the meat of the thing. This is for her, and any other dreamers out there. Those of you who have created and run your own show would undoubtedly have much to add.
Twenty months after deciding to become my own boss, these Three Ps are what success boils down to: the Purpose that drives the work (mine and others'), the People I get to work with, and the Progress that I now devote my skills to supporting. Of course, anyone who runs their own business could add many more - planning, patience, persistence, positivity, prayer... But that's another post.
Being one of those to whom Doing The Same Thing Every Day is a horrifying soul death, I developed a variety of skills and interests over nearly three decades of my adult work life. Coupled with being a big picture person, the strong desire to fill a perceived need, and wanting to make the world a better place, over time these skills and interests coalesced around communications.
The Venn of Self Employment: Aim for the middle!
After years in the government as a health communications person, and as a health care provider and counselor before that, the need to be filled was clear. What I wished many times, was for the creator of that fact sheet or brochure or awareness-building poster or website to be able to 1) write specifically to the intended audience, 2) have the understanding of the data that needed to be included and possess the skill to present it in an accessible way, and 3) render it all graphically in a straightforward, eye-catching, user-friendly manner for print or web. In other words, a science to plain language translator with graphic skills. Who was pleasant to work with. This became my mission, and, now that I am about to complete the Parson's New School of Design graphic design certification, it is thrilling to be fully stepping into my Purpose. It is the opposite of the mythic midlife crisis.
Build your dream and grow into it.
Those words of a wise friend and client sum up these first couple years of Serenity Communications. Having arrived at the Purpose, the "who" quickly fell into place - i.e., the People and organizations I want to serve. In short, those working to make the world a better place through health, education, social justice, and the arts. All human needs and achievements, the roots of quality of life and Progress. Not only "do no harm", but promote good.
The variety of clients and nature of the work has been fun, rewarding, interesting, and has diversified even further the audiences I now reach and types of people and organizations I work with. There are many unknowns when you step onto a new path, and we typically don't realize what treasures lie in those secret places. Imagine not only developing a new skill (graphic design, in my case), but discovering a totally unexpected love. Who knew book design would thrill me so - and I get paid to do it?!
Being self-employed is not for everyone. Perhaps we are somewhere between "normal" people and artists, with their wonderfully extra large right brains and dreamy souls. We are creators, but creating to meet a need versus "art for the sake of art"; risk-takers, but tending to be somewhat practical and strategic in our risk-taking.
But above all, there is nothing - nothing - like being your own boss.
Yours in the struggle - Carla
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Carla is a dancer, writer, observer, spouse, sister, daughter, aunt, friend, expatriated New Yorker turned Maine-iac, and warrior for a saner world. For less interesting details, check her out on LinkedIn.