Day 5: the heart of an entrepreneur

I’m not sure what my first business was but I’m pretty sure it’s either a “newspaper” I made Xerox copies of on my parents’ copy machine and sold for 2 pennies each, or the roly polies I decided to sell from our yard.

One of my first businesses was to sell roly polies I dug up from my parents’ yard. My only customer was my mother. (Photo of this roly poly is from the Benton High School Zoologist’s ning page.)

With the first business, the only customer I had was our neighbor. She gave me a nickel and I didn’t understand until years later when I learned about this thing called “change” why she seemed annoyed that I just took the nickel for the two-penny piece of paper. I just thought she thought it was worth that much!

The second business, the only customer I had was someone who looked a lot like my mother dressed up in some of my play jewelry. I still think it’s awesome that my mom paid me money to buy bugs that I dug up out of her garden.

Through the years, I’ve started other businesses or worked hard to get jobs as soon as I was legally allowed. I wrote my first resume at age 12 for my babysitting business and was so successful I owed a small amount of income tax by the time I was 14. I didn’t just show up and watch the kids, I learned how to run a business from the Babysitter Club series and I was American Red Cross Certified.

I’ve also had ideas for other businesses that have never developed including (what I think is) a unique idea for a restaurant. A few years ago, I tried to become an E-bay seller but let’s just say that didn’t go so well!

Nearly six years ago, I started writing freelance for a couple of national publications. I couldn’t write for any local magazines because it would have been a conflict of interest for my job as a local reporter.

When I was laid off from the reporting job in 2009, I decided to give my freelance work a real name so I could market myself locally while searching for regular, full-time employment. I was serious about the freelance work, but truth be told I saw it as a means to an end until something different came along. I always thought of it as something I would do to not have any resume gaps and to prove myself as having skills beyond reporting. It was also a creative way to rebrand myself as someone with transferable skills.

Heart of an entrepreneur

I kept up the business even as I got a regular job that was about 28 hours a week. It turns out, I enjoyed the freelance work too much to completely give it up. I enjoyed using my skills in new ways…ways that people would pay me to do. I enjoyed making new friends and meeting others who were also trying to grow a business that they had created themselves. I enjoyed feeling like I was in charge of my own future instead of waiting to hear if I was keeping my job or getting a new job or having changes at my existing part-time job.

Over time, the regular job just didn’t feel like the right mutual fit and I decided to start looking elsewhere. A few issues arose and I decided to go ahead and give notice even though I didn’t have another “real” job lined up yet. I left with the idea that I would freelance until another job came along but then something happened. I realized the “real job” was already right in front of me and that I was already doing it.

Several opportunities with new clients and with a news publication for which I had been freelancing on a very small basis arose (TheCityWire.com …check it out!) and it looks like I can replace my income by freelancing full time. Instead of saying I’m a part-time freelancer while I look for other work, I now am trying to remember to tell people I am full-time self-employed.

This doesn’t mean that I won’t take or look for a part-time job a few hours a week to help pay the bills until Jamie’s Notebook grows. I’m also not looking to make a million bucks or anything remotely close. I’m relishing the simple joy of knowing I have the skills, knowledge, guts and spousal support to pursue a dream I didn’t even realize I had.

A friend said something to me recently that really struck me because others saw this in me before I saw it in myself. I have the heart of an entrepreneur.

While this may seem like a major thing that doesn’t qualify as a “simple joy,” to me the small moments when I realize that decisions are up to me or when I deposited my first checks from full-time self employment… those are simple joys. Like all other simple joys, they add up to be a lifetime of finding joy in the little moments.

The 31 Days of Simple Joys is my take on the 31 Days in 2012, which is a now a nationwide blogging challenge to write every day for 31 days about the same topic. Basically, you pick a theme and find ways to adapt the theme to write every day.

1 comment / Add your comment below

  1. Rollie-pollies! What a wise Mom not to pulp away but to enhance the flicket of the entrepenueral spirit by taking your poffered bu and paying a penny for the privelege!
    I too had a penny news paper mbut don’t remember paying customers. I had onetin of those small hand crank tin printing presses w/ the rubber individual letters of type. You had to load your sentence bar with a tweezers and learn to spell upside down and from.right to laft. Then smear someink from the tube on the pad load ethe feed with six inch wide paper. And crank out the news bulletin! Same tecnology as Ben Franklin and Gutenberg though the content not comparable.

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