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.
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.
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.