The following is the first post by staff writer Crystal Stemberger. Please join me in welcoming her to the site!
Entrepreneurship is all the rage online right now. It’s either being proclaimed the future for everyone or a sneaky goal that can bite you in the butt. No matter what your opinion, the fact is that a bunch of people would love to leave their cubicle existences in favor of pursuing a business of their own. But many of them will make excuses on why they can’t, including the fact they just not born entrepreneurs. It does not come naturally to them.
Well, I’m proof that anyone can be an entrepreneur, whether they’ve been dreaming about it since they were kids or only since yesterday.
I’m Not a Born Entrepreneur
I had career aspirations as a kid just like everybody else, but it was to work in a big office building as someone important who had to sign their name a lot. In fact, I practiced my signature on scrap paper as a really small child even though I didn’t know cursive yet and it was just squiggles. I just knew that I could put in my 30-40 years and retire in my 50’s or 60’s just like my grandpa. And that is the dream I had for myself all the way into 2010.
But in 2010, my new hobby of blogging started making money. I also started meeting quite a few people online that already went the self-employed route. It truly started looking like a dream that was not just possible, but probable if I was willing to put in hardcore work.
Becoming an Entrepreneur
I will not lie. Starting your own business takes time. A ton of it. I was blogging or handling blog advertising pretty much every spare minute around my real job. I stopped talking to friends as much and I stopped going out very often. I just buckled down and put in 80-120 hour work weeks for more than a year to keep up with the emails I was receiving.
But I was motivated because I started making more money from my online endeavors by 2011 than I was bringing in from my day job. It wasn’t hard since I was only making about $35,000 a year as a glorified customer service representative. I was a cheap cubicle monkey (my words). Until 2010, I was fine with that. Then I realized in 2011 that I was being undervalued and that I could make twice as much or more on my own. I quit in July 2011 when I realized I would be cheating myself if I didn’t. [Kevin] Crystal’s post was one of the inspirations that led up to the beginnings of my own adventure.
You Can Train Yourself
Taking that leap was exhilarating and extremely scary at the same time. I was proud, but it was the first time in my life that I had to admit to myself that my salary was going to be unstable and that was okay. I like stability. I do not like never knowing what a month is going to bring. But you can train yourself to accept the ways of an entrepreneur.
My first order of business was to start paying myself a biweekly paycheck from my online income just like I had with my other job. That makes me feel stable.
Then I built up even more padding than we already had. Knowing that I could cover my next few paychecks to myself even if I stopped making money altogether helped me sleep at night.
Finally, I used any extra each month to pay down our current mortgage because I wanted to know that of all else failed, at least we owned our house. That is how we got our mortgage down from $76,000 to $26,000 from October 2011 to April 2012. Now that we are having a new home built, I have put those extra payments on pause, but we will be paying off the remaining balance of our current mortgage by mid-2013.
Is Entrepreneurship for You?
If you are avoiding starting your own business because you love your job, congratulations! Seriously, I believe that we all spend so much time at work that it needs to be something we at least like. So that is always the first priority.
But if you are just scared, buck up. Anyone can find at least a little extra time to start a side hustle and turn it into a business with time. Just figure out what makes you passionate enough to work extra for – then attack. You do not need to be a born entrepreneur – you just have to train yourself to think a bit differently than before.
What do you think about self-employment? Is entrepreneurship right for you?