Small Business Wednesday – Know Your “Why”

I never set out to own my own business.  I actually was pretty adamant that I never wanted to own my own business (never say never I have learned!).  I grew up in a household with two working parents.  They were employed by large companies and worked five days a week, eight hours a day.  They had benefits and retirement packages to help support our family.  I knew what a typical job structure looked like, and that’s what I assumed I would always have.  That’s what I wanted.  It was safe and it was respectable and it paid the bills.  My parents were amazing parents, and I wanted what they had created.  I didn’t know any different.

Five years into my career as a physical therapist, my boyfriend at the time (now my husband) and his family were traveling to Hawaii for two weeks.  I was included but I had to tell them I could only take one week due to my vacation restraints at work.  They went about planning this amazing two week vacation, while I was stuck knowing I only had five days to plan around.  I then found out that, because it was over a holiday, I wouldn’t be given those five days and needed to take time earlier or later in the month.  So I quit.  I ended up staying in Hawaii for three weeks and coming home refreshed and free.  Without a job (oops).

I don’t recommend that path for everyone, needless to say.  I actually went right back to my employer when I returned to see if they still needed help, and they offered me my job back.  But something had changed in that time period for me.  I had discovered my “why”.  You see, I don’t think I had a “why” when it came to my job choice.  I had a “why” for my CAREER as a physical therapist, as that’s where my passion and my soul was, but I didn’t have a “why” for my actual job.  In the past month I had found, buried within me, a need to control my own schedule.  I didn’t want to change anything about what I did for a living – I just didn’t want to have to ask anyone permission to go to Hawaii for two weeks.  So instead of being an employee, I went back as an independent contractor.  I was still doing what I loved, but I had freedom in my schedule.  That was the start to my self-employed life.

It’s been 8 years since that turning point, and many things have happened for me along the way.  I now own Harmony Pilates & Physical Therapy, with two locations, an amazing staff and phenomenal clients.  I will be the first to tell you I knew nothing about starting a business when my journey began.  I am still learning and feeling my way along.  Many times I’ve said out loud “I wish someone had written a book with step by step instructions on exactly how to start and run a business.”  I wasn’t taught this stuff in school.  I just had to figure it out (with A LOT of help along the way!).  I want to pass what I’ve learned (and am still learning) on to those trying to do the same.

My first piece of advice for anyone thinking of starting a company, home-based business, blog or any other self-employment activity, is to find your “why”.  The road will sometimes be hard.  It will have ups and downs.  It’s fun and crazy all at once.  You need a “why” to remember your reason for doing it.  Your “why” doesn’t have to be anything life changing or earth shattering, and it might change along the way.  Start small with a single point of focus on why you want to do this.  Make more money?  Have more free time?  Do something you love?  Not have a boss?  Whatever it is, you need it in the front of your focus when nights are long, things seem hard, or you wonder why you are doing what you are doing (or why you quit your job to drink mai tai’s in Hawaii :).

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