I can’t explain how much I learned in the past year. Looking back at the beginning, I am surprised I had the courage. I didn’t have much direction. I possessed a wide skill set and a business sense from growing up in small businesses, but my direction wasn’t in focus. And it still isn’t to a certain degree, but I’m learning that it doesn’t need to be. In fact, I want to give it room to grow. Many entrepreneurs change direction several times throughout their career and it will be with same for me. My passions will maintain, and as time continues I will innovate and try new routes.
But the beginning was really tough. What most people don’t know is that I was fired from my last job as an interactive designer at an agency. Fired because I was ‘intimidating the marketing staff’ and because I was seen as difficult to work with. And that is probably true because I wasn’t happy.
Growing up in small businesses and living with entrepreneurial parents doesn’t exactly give one the notion to follow along. My siblings and I are all paving our own paths, and its due to our temperaments and because we were taught to think outside the box. This independence from the norm has made my life more difficult. But now I seek to find a happy medium.
I naturally see the shortcomings of a business quickly, and become irritated when my time is wasted and processes are unorganized. I don’t like having to ask for work. And I believe those in charge should lead by example, not by direction.
Regardless of where I’ve worked, it was only a matter of time before I naturally began taking over and re-organizing. I was either applauded and given a management role or pushed towards the door. The only other time I was fired was because I didnt’t show up. And I shook my manager’s hand and told him I would have fired me, too. I may not be an easy employee, but it’s because of my hard work ethic and a love for what I do that leads me to seek perfection. It’s not because I want to be controlling or intimidating. I like making processes concise and fine tuning a flow.
Getting fired was the best thing that happened to me, but the rejection still hurt. It’s never been my wish to be different or walk the unpaved road, but it’s who I am. And being an entrepreneur has opened the door to meeting lots of other ‘misfit’ types that make me smile. We all seem to baulk at staying within the lines and I like that – as long as it comes from a good, curious place.
Instead, I chose to follow God, the advice of my family and turn that finger around on myself by creating a business. It didn’t seem wise to try to be an employee under someone else’s direction any longer. And I don’t say that carelessly because I’ve wished to find a home amongst a group, but its yet to happen. I need people, I lust for collaboration, but dealing with inconsistent management is tough. One day I want to build a working environment that gives people the freedom to be creative, to take pride in their work and demand more of themselves and their coworkers. Mediocrity comes too easily these days.
So my business began, and I made call after call and then went door to door. I printed fliers, I make lists of businesses in the area and went out day after day and somehow all of that blended into where I am today.
Only a single year has gone by, and I am not where I want to be, but I am not where I used to be. I have clients, bills are being paid, a nice bottle of wine can be bought, and new business is coming in. But I celebrate most of all because I am still here, because no matter how hard and tough it got, no matter how lonely I have been – I did not give up.
And that is my greatest lesson of year one – do not give up. It might be cliche, it may sound soft. But when you have to build yourself up every day, believe in your future time and time again, constantly remind yourself of the dreams you dream – you know how easy it would have been to give up.
This is only the beginning of the journey. Giving up is still an option, shifting focus is certainly a possibility, but there is a time to celebrate and pat oneself on the back. Anyone can give up, but I stuck with it.