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Celebrating Five Years: The Highs and Lows of Running My Own Business


Ten years ago I interviewed my youngest son Nick for a Facebook quiz. He responded to “What will your mom be famous for?” with “Running her own business.” Not sure about the famous part, but he just might be clairvoyant.


I often wondered about starting my own business. The 13 years I managed 70+ phenomenal publications professionals in five states felt like running my own business. I loved it.


Five years ago I chose “Fertile Ground Communications” because I’d worked for a few ineffective, toxic bosses. I wanted to find my fertile ground and help others find theirs.


Reflecting back, here are my five highs and lows:


Highs:


  • Autonomy and independence! I love being my own boss. I can choose my clients and projects and volunteer as much as I want. My success is mine alone. And I can say no to assholes (a freedom I didn’t have while employed).

  • Professional growth. I’ve learned more in the last 5 years than my last 20 in corporate settings. I’ve learned how to do everything...graphic design, IT, web development, accounting, business developing, and podcast production and editing.

  • Flexibility: I can work anywhere, whenever and however I want. I can go on hikes or meet friends anytime of the day. I don’t have to fill out a daily timesheet (which I did for 29 years).

  • Impact: I center my business around my values. I created a Corporate Social Responsibility statement early on, and my nonpaid work (and some paid) is about centering and uplifting people from historically excluded communities.

  • Financial aid: Because my income fluctuates and is lower than what I previously made, my middle son got a nearly full ride at an exclusive east coast college (Wesleyan). Best outcome of a layoff! We’ve also realized we can get by on less money.


Lows:


  • Ups and downs: The uncertainty can be hard, adjusting to fluctuating income, especially because I was the sole breadwinner for decades. I don't have employer-provided benefits, and I have to trust the money will come in somehow.

  • Going it solo: I’m an extrovert and a collaborator, and I miss working on teams and with other creatives. I’ve had to find other ways to fill that need, like volunteering.

  • Leaving work at the office: I usually work at my dining table. That can get hard when everyone’s home…and the dining room table gets cluttered. It’s also harder to shut off and not go on my laptop.

  • Dealing with difficult clients: I had a few doozies the first few years as I took on projects I didn’t love because I needed money. When clients turn out to be duds, you can’t delegate to Accounts Payable or executives to solve challenges. It’s just you.

  • Pounding the pavement: I’d rather have my work speak for myself than have to pitch to people. Many entrepreneurs bombard their email list with pitches. That’s not my style. Working for a company, I didn’t have to look for work, and now I’ve always got my eyes open for an opportunity!


Looking back, I have no regrets! Running my own business is a perfect last leg in my full communications career. 


Do you have your own business? What are your own highs and lows? I'd love to hear from you!


Let me know if you could use help with marketing, communications, or leadership.


I help professional services firms avoid BORING and boost employee engagement, productivity, and readership. I translate technical, complex, and lackluster language into accessible, dynamic, story-driven text. Get known in your industry through outstanding thought leadership content. Walk your talk through outstanding, effective communications with your employees and clients.


Fertile Ground Communications LLC is a certified women-owned business enterprise, disadvantaged business enterprise, and emerging small business.

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