I have a confession to make. I didn’t always see myself as a business owner. You see, up until about a year ago, I thought I would be in graduate school working on a master’s degree in speech pathology. After leaving teaching to stay home with my two sons for a few years, I decided that it would be wise to prepare for a new career that I could start once they were in school. My criteria for my new career were that it had to be enjoyable, allow me to work with children, be secure, and fairly well-paying. But as the idea of going to graduate school started to become a reality, starting with a surprise acceptance into the school of my choice, I could tell that my heart just wasn’t in it. My pre-requisite coursework started to bore me. I couldn’t envision myself spending 3 years of my life with my nose in the books, leaving me little time to enjoy my little boys’ childhood.
What had happened to me? I had this wonderful plan of going back to school and starting an amazing career. The odds of getting into graduate school were strongly against me, yet receiving that acceptance letter actually disappointed me and terrified me at the same time. What had happened is that somewhere in the middle of planning out this wonderful career, I had started my little “part-time” photography business. It was just for fun, I told myself. I’ll be happy doing it on the side, I said. I tried to tell myself that I could continue my photography business and go to graduate school. But I got a pit in my stomach just thinking about the few months of my life that I had left before all my time would be taken up by classes and studying. I knew that it wasn’t realistic to keep my photography business running while I was in school.
Maybe you’ve experienced this as a business owner. Maybe you don’t even have a business yet because you have a seemingly perfectly stable, sensible career and you think you can’t leave it. You tell yourself you are crazy and irresponsible for even contemplating leaving that job or opportunity to start your own business. As soon as I started to contemplate rejecting the grad school opportunity, I was worried about being irresponsible. Would my family still be proud of me? Would my family suffer financially? Was I disappointing them by quitting school to follow this silly dream?
I almost didn’t listen to my heart. For those long 6 months between my acceptance to graduate school and the time I officially told the school I wasn’t coming after all, my heart kept screaming to me that life is too short to stick with the stable, safe career that you don’t love. All I could think about, all I could envision was me growing my photography business. It’s all I ever thought about. I was constantly reading, constantly practicing. Does your heart and mind always return to the thought of owning your own business? Perhaps you have a great idea for an innovative new product. Maybe you know that you have a talent or skill that could benefit many people. Don’t ignore it like I almost did. I hear from friends all the time who don’t give the thought of owning a business a chance because they have a career that brings in plenty of money (even if they hate it). Having enough money to provide for your family is important and we shouldn’t squander our resources, but don’t ignore your dreams out of fear. Challenge yourself to step out on faith and follow the dream that your heart longs for and maybe you’ll be blessed with a business that you own and love.
How do we know what the plan is for our life? I believe that if I listen carefully, I can learn what God wants for me. Being a photographer lines right up with my preoccupation that I’ve had with art since I was just a toddler. I once asked a friend, “how can you tell what God’s will is?” or “how can you tell you are making the right decision?” Her answer was that you will feel peace over it. As soon as I nervously wrote a letter to the school and turned down the opportunity to go to graduate school, I felt immediate relief. The future was mine again. I could turn my focus back to my photography business, my baby. It’s been three years since I started this business. Guess what? It’s not failing. It keeps growing and growing. I’m not a full time photographer yet, but I’m okay with that because I still have one son who’s not in school yet. Every day, I get to do what I truly love, while spending time with my son who’s home with me. I get to photograph cute little babies, as well as families. I have the best job. I’ve learned over the last few years that having a career that you love is worth so much more than a monotonous or dreadful one that allows you to go on cruises or have fancy clothes.
If you are thinking of starting a business, give it a chance. Don’t sweep the idea under the rug, thinking you’ll pull it out when times are better. Get advice from friends and family. Pray about it. You may think you’re crazy and you may think that you won’t succeed, but you may prove yourself wrong. Starting a business is a leap of faith, but it’s been the best decision I ever could have made for myself and my family.
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