Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Finding Your True North

It’s no easy task explaining to someone what it means to be a business. To anyone who’s grown up with the mentality that they have to work hard in order to find a job at a company, meeting someone who is a company can be a perplexing idea that they just have trouble wrapping their head around. For example, there are a number of concepts inherent in the established paradigm that just don’t apply to the self-employed:

·         Setting one’s own work schedule and hours.

·         Determining one’s own rate of pay.

·         Working wherever they please instead of a set space, or office.

For anyone who has been successful at being their own business it often leaves others wondering whether they do any work at all. Answers to the questions, “What do you do?” and “How much do you make?” are purposely vague unlike those of their counterparts who might prefer the lofty title next to the reputable company name that commands a predetermined pay scale with benefits. But anyone who has ever set out to become self-employed knows that there is something that working for a company can not offer – the freedom to determine one’s own sense of vocational happiness.

It’s understood that working for a company brings with it certain sacrifices. In exchange for financial security we are often bound to working on someone else’s terms (hours, corporate structure, defined tasks, vacation and sick days). As much as being self-employed might represent a departure from this framework, it is not without sacrifice. In fact, leaving the corporate world behind to strike off on one’s own is often one of the greatest sacrifices anyone can make because it is automatically associated with uncertainty.

Self-employment is not for the faint of heart. The early days of starting a new business are often so filled with ups and downs (mostly downs) that it can often leave people despondent, regretting their decision, and scouring the want ads to get them back in the rat race. And, while taking temporary employment to stay afloat isn’t out of the question, throwing in the towel should be only be considered as an absolute last resort.

We have a long established history of measuring success in dollars and cents, but there is a sea change occurring right now. People are beginning to realize that happiness is becoming a more accurate barometer of success and that living every aspect of life on one’s own terms is a critical factor in one’s perception of their own happiness. To this day there exists a misconception that people that are self-employed don’t work as hard as people who work a set number of hours per week, but the greater truth is that there now exists a culture of people who don’t define success by the established set of terms.

If happiness and success, therefore, are so nebulous, what does it actually take to drive a new, passion driven, business forward and allow it to achieve remuneration along with fulfillment? Only you can decide that. But, locking on to the values that you aim to hold as a business, understanding why you are doing what you’re doing, and demonstrating your resolve will reflect upon others that your business offers value. Passion is infectious, and if you love what you are doing, then the people you serve will love how you do it. It takes time and the determination to suffer through hard times, but if you know where you are headed then you will get there.


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