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Thoughts on Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is not a quick way to an easy life of leisure and wealth. You cannot build a fulltime income with part time effort.  These are just a few opening thoughts when it comes to the commitment that is required to make grow a successful business.  I learned these lessons early.

I married young, had my children by the time I was 20 and didn’t go to college until I was 28.  By that time, I was so appreciative of the opportunity that I was the most motivated student on the whole campus.  I thought I would find a life in the world of academia, but life happened, and things didn’t work out that way.  I tried working a “regular” job for awhile after my children were a little older.  I hated it.  I could not bear the idea that I had to punch a clock at precisely 8:30 every morning and if I clocked in two minutes late more than 3 times, it was cause for a negative report on my personnel file.  On the other hand, if I was needed by upper management to stay after work for 30 minutes, that didn’t balance out those times I was late.  It didn’t seem like a good way to keep track of things to me.  Bottom line – I was a bird who needed to be free to fly and not kept in a cage — the cage of employment. 

So, I did all kinds of different things to earn money — I tutored, I worked at the local country club for private parties, I sold Tupperware, I became a direct distributor for Amway…and the list went on.  Years later, when the children were teenagers and we were homeschooling, we all had businesses that we worked on together.  My son had a window-washing business at age 14 and he made $20 an hour back in the mid 80’s.  My daughter and I developed an after-hours office cleaning business and made WAY more an hour than either of us could have done working a “regular” job.  We had a “mother’s day out” on Fridays for the other homeschool mothers who needed a break with the younger children.  It all added up to a pretty good income for me and the kids.  They got spoiled and have always had a hard time seeing the logic of working for just “wages.”  I ignored the remarks from some people about why I didn’t go get a “real job.”  I had a real job — raising my kids to be educated and to know how to be creative enough to earn money doing things they liked, all the while learning how to work and do a good job.  To this day, if I need a team to help me accomplish something, I’d rather have my kids than anyone I know. 

When the kids left for college, I turned my focus entirely on building a business that would be fun and provide a good income.  I learned that the city where I lived did not have a good telecommunications company offering services that were available in larger cities.  I did some market research, got a plan together, and launched In Touch Solutions in 1994.  That business is still going strong and when broadband became available out here in the country where I live, I immediately moved my office home and do all my work with a remote hookup to my VoIP switch.  In 2009, a partner and I launched BusinessTrainingTeam.com, an online training website. 

Sometimes people say things that  indicate they think I don’t work much or that I have more free time than they do because I get to work at home.  What working at home really means is that I have more time to work because I don’t waste time getting in a car to drive to work.  I really work more than I would if I had to “go to work.” 

Starting these businesses and growing them to success has not been easy.  It has required a lot of sacrifice and many extra hours beyond 40 per week.  80% of all new businesses fail within the first 3 years.  Mine have not only survived, but have thrived, even in a bad economy.  I attribute this success to customer service and commitment.  I have always delivered more than I promised.  And I have committed myself to serving my customers to the best of my ability. It has also required commitment from my family – from my husband and our adult daughter who lives with us. 

For me, the life of the “free bird” or the entrepreneur is worth all the sacrifice, the risks, the headaches, the burden of knowing the buck always stops with me.  It’s as natural as breathing and I don’t have to punch a clock.  Yuk!  That would be awful.

What about you?  I’d like to hear about your career path and how you ended up doing what you do.