An entrepreneur is defined as a person “who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.”
Today I officially became an entrepreneur.
My company, Breeze Communications, has actually been around since 2012, but I’ve been a communications professional for 25 years. For the last 14 years, I’ve been the Communications Coordinator for the Association of Manitoba Municipalities (AMM). My job consists primarily of writing, editing and/or designing much of the AMM’s corporate and member communications (annual reports, newsletters, news releases, speeches, magazine articles, etc.), updating and maintaining its social media channels and website, and handling media inquiries.
Had I stuck around for four more years, I could have retired with a nice little pension. Instead, when I walk away today I will become completely self-employed.
How did this happen??
When I started my little company never did I think this day would come. It wasn’t something I even thought about. I only started it when an acquaintance asked me if I would be interested in doing a bit of writing on the side – specifically, a bi-annual newsletter for a non-profit organization he is involved with. (This type of ‘side gig’ is common for communications professionals, as many organizations don’t have the budget for permanent communications staff.)
I was intrigued by the offer, and the timing was right – I was becoming a little bored (also common amongst communications professionals!) I figured it might be fun to work on a different project, keep my creative juices flowing, and make a bit of extra money.
Over the next few years, that ‘bit of writing on the side’ evolved into regular newsletters, annual reports, website management, promotional videos and other fun and interesting projects. However, working full-time at my day job and doing what had become essentially another half-time job was not leaving me any time for anything else! The stress was mounting and eventually, it became clear to me that I had a choice to make.
While my head told me that the logical choice would be to give up the part-time work, my heart told me otherwise. I began to feel like maybe, possibly, I could take my business to the next level – but it would mean I had to give up the comfort and security of my day job. Otherwise, both would suffer.
And so the internal dialogue began:
- “I still have only one main client – a non-profit with a very tight budget. What if they decide they can’t afford me? What if I can’t find any new clients right away?”
- “Will I lose my pension?”
- “I’m giving up a great benefits package – and I’m not getting any younger!”
- “Giving up paid vacation and sick days seems risky.” (See “I’m not getting any younger” above.)
- “Do I have the discipline?”
- “What if I get bored/lonely/regret my decision?”
It all seemed so unpredictable. But I did my homework and over time answered all of those questions. Focusing on what I will be gaining (the flexibility that comes with being my own boss) rather than what I may be giving up brought me to a place where I am 100% certain this is the perfect decision for me.
And then came a nice bit of serendipity. After informing the AMM of my intentions, they not only wished me well – but became a client.
I am truly so fortunate to have worked for an amazing organization for the past 14 years. That they are continuing to entrust me with some of the projects I’ve grown to love means a lot to me. It sounds cliché, but when one door closes, often another one really does open.
If you think you might be ready to become self-employed, I urge you to JUST DO IT – but first, research the pros and cons thoroughly to make sure it’s the right decision for you. (I spent six years doing this!) Here are a few great articles on why you should take the leap and what to expect:
It’s still a little scary. But I found out I can defer my pension until I’m officially retirement age. I’ll have to pay for my own benefits but I found a monthly plan that is pretty reasonable. Bookkeeping is NOT my forte, but I am hoping to get better at it (I’ll need to if I want to get paid, right?) Thankfully, I have a terrific accountant to call on when I get in over my head. And, looking forward a few years, I can continue to do this work well into actual ‘retirement’ – taking on projects only when and if I want to.
There are sure to be plenty of ups and downs along the way. I am certainly aware that running my own business is not going to be smooth sailing all the time. There will be uncomfortable realities to deal with – and when they smack me in the face when I least expect it I may indeed experience some regret.
But I don’t think that feeling will last long.
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”