I’m often asked, “why start your own business?” Why take the risk? Why not settle in somewhere with job security, as much as this even exists anymore.
I’ve said before that I’m an accidental entrepreneur. Or an accidental solopreneur and occasional entrepreneur. I’m not sure the label really matters. Basically, I work for myself. I have a business that needs to make money in order for me to have an income.
Many years after that first fork in the road, I’m still at it and haven’t looked back.
Before owning my own business, I was an employee for a large consulting company. Until my job went away. I suddenly found myself down-sized, and without a paycheck. It’s the worst feeling in the world.
I was very young at the time, had no savings and no plan. Oh, one thing I had plenty of? Debt. Thank you institutes of higher learning.
When I lost my job, after crying and taking a nap (devastation is apparently exhausting), I got on the phone. I called every client I ever worked with and told them I was now working for myself. Are you even supposed to do that? Who cares. I needed money to pay my rent so I wouldn’t end up on the street. Basic math.
So I called clients and asked them if they had any work. That was the hardest part. Have you ever had to do that? Not submit an application through a web site. But call someone and straight out ask them for work. Asking for work felt like begging.
At least it did to that version of me in that particular moment.
Never Looked Back
Years later I realize asking for work is just another name for ‘sales’. And clients expect you to ask. They want you to ask.
I spent 3 days making phone calls. Lots and lots of phone calls. All of those phone calls led to 2 follow-ups, and that led to my first contract.
My (eventual) company grew from me being on the losing side of someone else’s coin toss. And the one thing I knew for sure was that I never wanted to be in that position again.
No one can accurately predict the future, but I want to at least be the first one to see what’s coming at me. When I worked for someone else’s company, I bet 20 (or 30 or 50) people knew my future weeks or months before I did. Now the only person influencing the road ahead is me.
When asked why start your own business, I ask how many people can change your fate in a moment?
Does someone, right now, have the power to take away the means you have to support yourself?
Could everything you rely upon be taken away by a 15 minute conversation?