Taking the plunge: why and how I started my small business

28 Aug

I am often asked what brought me to make the decision to start a business. I don’t have a business degree, but I’d argue that to start a business you don’t really need one. For those who know me, you probably know my story already. But chances are, there are parts of it that you don’t know. Here’s what drove me to this journey I’m on and why I’m so glad I made the decision to be an entrepreneur.

DSC_5124I always knew what I wanted to do for a living. At least, I thought I did. For various reasons, I changed my mind once I got out of graduate school. I worked for a year for a small translation agency as a project manager and interpreter while my husband (then boyfriend) finished his degree. I loved the work, but not so much the company I worked for. It was a stepping stone, though, and I learned a lot while I was there.

Deciding not to go on in academia was the best decision I could have made. I do not regret it at all, but I remember that I came to this decision after agonizing a lot over what to do. I had always wanted to be a professor. But why? I didn’t have a good reason, really. I had been teaching as a lecturer for years already, and while I enjoyed it in the beginning, I realized after a while that it was not a good fit for me in the long term. I didn’t want to teach forever.

While my husband continued on through school for the next four years, I was a lecturer for two of those years at the university level. I had two to three jobs at at time and was constantly on the run from one class to another. During this time, I took on some freelance translation and interpreting work. I already knew about the industry, having worked in it before. It was nice, but also very hectic to try to fit it all into my schedule.

In 2010, I decided to open my own business in hopes that my freelance work would become more and that I could contract others in my business. I did not want to take much money from our personal savings, as we were pretty newly married and my husband was still in school. So, I invested $700 from our savings and crossed my fingers.

I knew I had the knowledge from my previous position and the language background I needed to get it moving. I also knew there was a market and I already had a few clients. More importantly, I felt motivated. I wanted something that was mine. So, for the next two years, I continued to teach as a lecturer and work on my business every. single. night. I was constantly running from one class to another, and then staying up many, many nights working to meet client deadlines. I think back now and wonder how I had that much energy. All I can come up with is personal drive and motivation to make a change and have something of my own. There was a lot of stress, but I knew it had to be worth it.

Besides being tired of working for others in jobs where I didn’t see a future for myself, I also felt motivated by learning about business and navigating my own path. I researched how to write a business plan, and I attended workshops, seminars, local business owner meetings and tried to soak up every ounce of information I could about running a successful business.

There were many lessons learned, but I’ll save those for other posts. And, of course, there were some naysayers along the way. I was actually told once by a small business advisor that my business was not really a business, but more of a hobby. I remember leaving the meeting feeling so offended and like he didn’t understand my business at all. That just fueled my motivation more. I am no longer offended. I know that there are people who believe that if you don’t jump into your business 100% from the beginning, then it’s not a real business. I beg to differ.

I don’t regret having another job (or in my case, jobs) that paid the bills while I got my business moving. In fact, I know many entrepreneurs who worked at jobs they didn’t care for until they felt financially secure enough to cut the cord like I did. For a lot of people, it’s the more reasonable choice. If that’s you, I totally get it.

By 2012, I was able to give up my multiple jobs and take the plunge to working solely for myself. It was (very!) scary, but so exciting. With a business there is always some uncertainty from one month to the next. But one thing was definitely certain. I was ready to hustle.

In the 5 years I have owned my business, I have gotten to know some of the best people, both clients and colleagues. Knowing that what I have worked on is mine drives me even more. Today, I work with over 100 vendors, have two project managers and earn over three times the amount I did when I had multiple jobs teaching. I don’t say any of this to brag. That is not my intention with this post at all. Instead, I hope that if you’re looking to start a business, you feel that there is hope for you to start small and think big, as I knew there was for me. If you have to work at a job you dislike just to make it possible to walk away one day for a business that is yours and one that you believe in, know that that day will soon come and it will be one of the best feelings you will ever have. Know that others will always have an opinion about how they think you should handle your business, but when it comes down to it, doing what is best for you and your situation is the only thing that matters.

{This post is part of my Business & Entrepreneurship series. You can read more about the series here.}

1 Comment

Posted by on August 28, 2015 in Uncategorized


One response to “Taking the plunge: why and how I started my small business

  1. Mary

    August 28, 2015 at 2:58 am

    Awesome. Very inspirational! Thanks for sharing!


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