What I Wish You Knew is an ongoing blog series about working life and career choices. Today I am so pleased to welcome to the blog Diahann Lohr! If you would like to participate in this blog series, please contact me.
This week is National Entrepreneurship Week and I’d love to share a snippet of my entrepreneurial life. While I certainly can’t be considered a typical entrepreneur—I doubt there is such a thing—I would like to be a voice of encouragement to anyone considering the leap.
I’m a self-employed communications professional specializing in graphic/web design and copywriting. My business Adunate Word & Design is small—you could even call it micro—and I help small businesses and non-profits successfully communicate their message.
I run Adunate from my home, a 100-year-old farmhouse surrounded by rolling Wisconsin countryside. My husband is a skilled woodworker and built me a wonderfully warm, inviting and efficient office. I love being in this space! In my younger days, such isolation would have stranded me but now I find it inspiring, particularly since my preferred target market is organic farming and sustainability organizations. I appreciate being able to work uninhibited from home and keeping my overhead low. I cherish the freedom to take a break, tend my garden, feed the chickens, or go for a walk.
But those wonderful advantages? They’re also disadvantages.
As much as I love my home office, it takes discipline for me to work here. Like many creatives, I have a bit of ADHD and am easily distracted. An office downtown would definitely hold me accountable, even when the work gets boring. It would give me a professional presence, which in turn would likely increase my business. It would also force a greater separation of work and life, which some people feel is necessary, although I don’t really care. These are all factors I weigh, but I still choose my home office.
Being an entrepreneur is all about choices. Yes, you can choose when, where and how much you want to work. But with those choices you’re also determining what you want your business to be. You’re determining your own success.
I appreciate the freedom to run my business the way I want. I’m at an age where monetary success is no longer important, but control of my life is. For me, my choices are to have lunch with my adult children or to take my granddaughter to her art class. It would be very hard to go back to working for someone else.
Being an entrepreneur is so very different than it was, say, twelve years ago, when I first took the self-employment plunge. Today, technology allows much more mobility and I can work anywhere. Coffee shops, libraries, road trips… wherever I can open up my laptop and connect to the internet, I can hang my shingle (another reason I don’t feel isolated). This gypsy-like style of working is a perfect fit for my personality.
Technology works for entrepreneurs in other ways too. We’ve got Dropbox, Skype, Evernote and more. We never heard of these apps ten years ago, yet nowadays they’re our regular helpmates. We also have shared office spaces, crowdfunding and social media marketing, all of which enable go-getters to live the entrepreneurial dream without breaking the bank.
What I Wish You Knew
Entrepreneurship is hard. I’m a designer and copywriter but at least one-third of my working hours is spent being a jack-of-all-trades: bookkeeper, bill collector, researcher, marketer, and human psychologist. There’s nothing glamorous about cold calling for new business or tolerating difficult clients. Being an entrepreneur takes moxie, perseverance and a thick skin.
While today is an exciting time for entrepreneurship, it’s also challenging. Our U.S. society offers little support to the independent workforce, particularly in regards to healthcare and retirement planning. These hurdles could become even higher during this particular 4-year administration. I call myself an atypical entrepreneur because I am blessed with my husband’s secure job, benefits and retirement. Yet I plan to work much longer than he does, so I’m advocating now for a better entrepreneurial future.