The first Monday of each month, I dust off a favorite post from the Bennis Inc Blog archives and give you another chance to enjoy the wit and wisdom that’s been shared. Enjoy this month’s treasure – and if it inspires you – be sure to share it with family and friends!
With Christmas right around the corner, the spirit of the season has been at the forefront of my thoughts. I’ve browsed through so many “gift lists” of what to get your spouse, your children, your clients, and much more. I even came across a gift list for what to get an entrepreneur for Christmas. This made me think, what does an entrepreneur really need? The latest tech gadgets? Maybe, if they’re fun and useful. More “boss” swag. Not really my style. What I concluded was, at least from my perspective, there are so many ‘gifts’ I feel I receive year-round thanks to my entrepreneurial journey. Come the holiday season, I’m not sure I could think of one more thing I really need – even want. Life is good (even when it’s not) when you love what you do. So to take a different approach, I’m going to share my own gift list and this is “The Best Gifts of Entrepreneurship” and the good news is, aside from some sweat equity, these are things we can all work to afford – no cash or credit needed.
Flexibility with my time
One of the greatest gifts I could ask for from my entrepreneurial journey is the flexibility it has provided. No two days need to look the same, schedule-wise or task list. And I like to mix things up! Some days I’ll wake up early to write in the peace and quiet of those early morning hours. Other days, I’ll wake up to the sound of little feet running to my bedroom door for some snuggle time. I work out or spend time in nature daily. And nearly every day I’m available to greet my sons who arrive home from school around 3pm. It hasn’t always been like this and I am sure there will be new seasons where I may be on a stricter schedule as certain work projects require, but for now, and for a long time, the gift of flexibility has been among my favorites.
Motivation to do more
Although it has been nearly 12 years, I have not forgotten what it’s like to be a salaried employee. On any given day, I could have a significantly sized new project dropped on my desk and then face the dilemma of finding a way to fit this into my already demanding workload. The real rub wasn’t just trying to find the time, it was trying to find the motivation. Now as a sole proprietor of my own public relations business, new projects mean new income. I’m compensated for what I do – and this can have both its perks and its drawbacks. At least in my experience, I have found this to work far more in my favor than otherwise. When someone needs more of my time, I know that I will be directly compensated for it. While money is not my sole motivator, it certainly helps!
I am so grateful for the never-ending gift of new experiences that I receive as an entrepreneur. When people ask, “So what type of industries do you work with?” or “What type of projects do you work on?” I often don’t know where to begin. I have a client who flies me to Houston or Austin for 5 days to attend an international symposium, a client who works with nuclear emergency planning, and a client who influences state legislation for nearly a hundred different interest groups. And this is just who I was corresponding with at the time of writing this blog post. My career path has afforded me some very unique experiences including staffing a delegate at the Republican National Convention, and coordinating a large exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls to be showcased in the state Capitol. And as much of a gift these new experiences are, it’s really about the people. Which brings me to…
Yes, an introvert can still love interfacing with people (within boundaries – ha!) and people are both my why and my how. Since starting my public relations business, I have grown a vast network of professionals who have had a profound impact on where I am today. Many have hired me at some point to do work for them – some of whom I have continued to work with for over 11 years! My vendor network also allows me to better serve my clients. If there is a service they need that I do not offer, I can usually find them various options for solutions. As the saying goes, “Rising waters lift all boats.” I am so thankful for the gift of my network.
Everything in moderation. I find this so true of work interactions. I come alive during client meetings where I can present new ideas and map out solutions to fix their pain points. But when that part of my day is over, I am excited to retreat back to my peaceful home office where the only sound is the clicking away of the keyboard. I do my best work in solitude, which is why I love that entrepreneurship allows me to set my own work environment.
Control over the future of my career
We are all control freaks to a degree, which is why I have no shame in admitting that a gift of entrepreneurship is the control it gives me over the future of my career. I’ve known people who have worked for larger companies that have limited control over the direction the business takes – from its marketing and branding to the types of products and services it provides and how they are structured. For a while this might be fine, maybe even nice to not have to worry about all of these things like a business owner does. After so long there will come a point where you say, “I wish they would have asked me what I thought about that!” Or maybe a decision will be made – without any of your knowledge or input – that will greatly impact your role with that company. As an entrepreneur, I assume the risk of controlling the future of my career, but I much prefer to be in the driver’s seat.
Opportunity to educate and inspire
And finally, a beautiful gift of entrepreneurship is the opportunity to educate and inspire others. I have yet to be a formal mentor to someone, but I’ve had many mentoring moments along the way. I’ve lectured to college classes, had countless in-person, phone, and virtual conversations with students and fellow professionals, and have dedicated this blog to sharing my journey as the Comm Entrepreneur. I am so grateful that my entrepreneurial journey has given me the gift of a platform to share my experience and to be open and vulnerable at times. I would be excited for anyone to follow me on their own entrepreneurial journey, but I’m also quick to share the risk and challenges that can come along with this.
Every career path is unique. Maybe yours provides you some of the same ‘gifts’ I’ve described above. No matter your journey, the key is to be grateful for what you have and to flame your desire to continue to move toward what you ultimately want. I am so grateful for you – and all my readers and clients – who have been among the many gift-givers throughout my career.