Owning a small business is hard work. Working with other small business owners is hard work. Limited budgets, crazy hours, looming deadlines…it’s all hard work.
And it’s all worth it.
Five years ago, I made the crazy decision (while pregnant with my second child) to quit my job and start my own communications consulting firm. Scary? Yes. Worth it? Totally.
And here are my reasons why (because sometimes, in the midst of all the craziness, we need a reminder of why we do what we do):
For the passion
Picture that crazy couple that has been married for 20+ years and still can’t keep their hands off each other. They swear they’ve never had one fight and they are constantly calling each other syrupy-sweet nicknames. OK, so maybe I don’t go that far with my business, but I will say that I’m still just as jazzed about having my own firm than when I first started in 2006. It’s my blood, sweat and tears. I have no excuse for boredom because if I don’t like what I’m doing, it’s up to me to change it up. I’m passionate about my industry, I’m respected for what I do and I feel good about my skills.
For the flexibility
Flexibility means different things at various times in life. Add two more kids on top of the second one I was pregnant with when I started this business thing and I’m now a mother of four. So for me, flexible hours and a home office are critical to my survival (and sanity). I am my own boss and I don’t have to give a two-week notice when I want to cut out early on a Friday or need to come in late one morning because of my kid’s dentist appointment. Yeah, it may be hard to take a long vacation, but with my handy laptop and access to email anywhere, I make do. And seriously, no commute? That’s a reason in itself.
For awesome clients
Whether you’re B2B like me or B2C, being a business owner lends itself to meeting a ton of really cool people. I’m constantly adding new people into my business “family” and I love it. Do we still have the occasional family squabble? Sure, but that comes with the territory. My clients have taught me just as many things outside my industry as I would like to think I’ve taught them about my industry. It’s exciting to build new relationships and it’s fun to keep guessing who you’ll meet down the road.
For the endless supply of resources
Wait, now hear me out. No, I don’t have an office mate or a group of people I can harass for ideas during a mandatory staff meeting, but I do have all of you–my online connections, friends and experts. And again, I don’t have to convince my boss that it’s beneficial for me to spend time on different social media channels or attend the latest industry conference. I know the value of continuous learning and I want to learn. If I choose to (and I frequently do) I can make it a point to take an entire work day and read through blogs, Twitter feeds and industry articles. And if you’ve ever worked with me, you know how important this aspect of my job is. I encourage everyone–whether you’re a business owner or not–to schedule your own reading days every once in awhile.
For the difference I make
I call the shots. If a potential client comes along that has a mission I’m not vibing, I can say “no deal.” Likewise, I can seek out clients that I want to help, that I choose to help. I can control the difference I make in my community and feel good about all the work I do. For me, in a corporate setting, this wasn’t always possible. There were times I was forced to work on projects I loathed for clients (internal or external) with missions and objectives I couldn’t get my head around.
But now I can say, “I did that,” with awesome excitement and pride to all of the projects I choose to be a part of. I can help others on pro bono work, I can collaborate with other like-minded business owners and consultants. I can make my own difference.