Thursday, October 22, 2009

A lot to think about

I hope that my readers don't mind that I write a lot about my growth as an artist and business person. I find the blog gives me a way to express myself and maybe my stories and struggles will resonate with someone else out there that is trying to start their own business. This is my life, I am my art and this is my process. I hope someone out there gets some value from my ramblings.

The biggest thing on my mind lately has been debating career or business ownership. I my mind it's almost like there has to be a choice between the two. That to continue my career I must keep working for someone else and get a different job eventually that is more design related and will further me in my career. This would entail working for someone else and maybe taking on full time hours. If I continue working part-time hours I will be more limited to my design job choices and in the long run it may hurt my long term career growth. But do I even want this as my career?

Do we have to make a choice as business owners? What happens if you give it up to work for yourself. Does that count against you on a resume? I guess I am factoring in failure because if the business took care of my financial needs I wouldn't need a job and that would be my job. Maybe I still want my security blanket in case I need to fall back on lean times and I would be able to get a job in my field. What I am worried about is if taking time away from my career if that will hurt my chances when competing for a future job. Does it hurt your career to take off time for yourself and growing a business?

I guess what I'm worried about the most is that I am making myself unemployable. That I will appear too independent and headstrong. I think companies want a worker bee, not someone that wants to run the company. Maybe then I need to find the right company?

I think this fear is slightly valid but also I am not counting in my other options. Like what kinds of opportunities are opened up for me on this different route. I could be a freelance illustrator. I could teach classes or workshops. I could work part-time for a business that maybe I meet through my own networking and perhaps they will LOVE a person like me and need my skills.

It's hard for me because I invested so much into my education in Graphic Design and I don't want to feel like it was for nothing. I do use plenty of design in my own website, marketing materials, illustrations and packaging. Perhaps I need to stop thinking like a worker bee and let the business woman in me blossom. To think outside of the 9-5 box and into the world of investment, grants, loans, and untaped resources available to me.

I do love my current part-time design job. I am allowed to get in some design time and handle customers one on one. It has helped me with my confidence in speaking to people and talking on the phone. I manage my time a lot better, I feel a sense of accomplishment from a job well done. I enjoy having structure to my day and coworkers.

The question really is. Do I want to work for someone else and put my own fate into their hands? Or do I want to make my life my own and work entirely for myself?

What's holding me back? FEAR.

Fear about paying bills, insurance, medical, dental. What if I get sick? What if I want time off?

Tonight I attended another class at the Mercy Corps NW here in Portland. WOW was it intense. We went straight into cost breakdowns and projections and all that scary math. It left my head spinning. This last week I've had vacation off from work and I used it to work my ass off. I've been sewing, fulfilling and shipping orders and trying to be a superstar to my customers. I FEEL AWESOME. I'm also overwhelmed.

But you know what I found out? I LOVE THIS. I love running my own business. Instead of being stressed out about how much time I was spending sewing I told myself that eventually I'll have helpers and someone to do shipping and this is just the beginning. I LOVE making these hats. I LOVE selling them. I can't wait to get them out to real people at craft fairs and markets. I found the key ingredient that was missing. I found a product I can stand behind that I'm proud of and love to create. I will still keep doing children's clothing but I realize that it's all part of a huge plan that is coming together. The big deal that finally hit me (that who knows how long will take to finally sink in) is that this is the REAL DEAL. This could be my life. This is really happening and it's going to totally take over.

I have a lot to think about, a lot to calculate and plan, a lot to ponder. I feel that this is the coolest job I could ever have and anything else pales in comparison. I make giant fuzzy animal hats. What could be cooler than that? I draw and illustrate and make the coolest kids clothing full of dinosaurs and robots and guys and gals both love it. I think everyone is looking for something more.. above the generic bland world of supermarkets. Something that connects with them on a personal level. I feel this is my way of speaking to the masses and it has brought the coolest people in my life. I LOVE my customers so much and I LOVE making them happy!

I'm proud of every item I sent out this week and I know it's going to last for a long, long time. It brings out a playful nature full of imagination and links right back to childhood. THAT is exactly what I have been trying to tap!

Anyways, back to my original question. Do you have to choose between career or business ownership? Do you make yourself unemployable? Can you ever really work for someone else again? Can you really be a good worker bee after that?

Maybe it's something you gotta get out of your system. To shut up the "What if" in your head.

Maybe I'm too young, maybe I think to much. But it's hard when you have invested time, lots of money and energy into something. And you just hope that it's not for nothing. In school they don't really train you to live a life as an entrepreneur. They train you to work for someone else. Now I'm starting a whole new life. Getting my own personal degree in business. Paid for with sweat and tears in the school of life.

Career or business ownership? Maybe it's one and the same?

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