After nearly 20 years of working for others in my professional career, I took a chance in the summer of 2004 and began putting Promote Michigan into play. I was a single mom with two young kids, temporarily living with my parents and trying to figure out to move forward.
Growing up, I never really thought about being a business owner or a consultant. In fact, I don’t even know that I know what that meant at the time. I did understand the philosophy of following your passion however.
I first tried my hand as a writer when I was in elementary school – in classroom required journals (which I still have from third grade) and poems and stories for my grandparents. In middle school, it was a unit on newspapers that piqued my interest in writing as a career. From there, it was high school journalism and yearbook classes, along with jobs at a local weekly newspaper and radio station that further secured my future as a professional communicator.
In college, while working toward my degree in print and broadcast journalism, I became active in several civic groups and organizations in the field. My parents were both active in several community groups and non-profit organizations, which meant I grew up knowing that giving back was just a way of life.
As I forged ahead in my career, I found volunteering provided me an opportunity to network with other like-minded individuals but also opened up the door to events that at the time I couldn’t afford to attend (but as a committee member, your registration was often covered). These types of affiliations helped boost my professional and personal value and self-respect, building my confidence over time.
Twelve years ago, after compiling a vast array of skillsets and business relationships I said goodbye to the security of a solid job and steady paycheck to exert my independence as a self-employed consultant (entrepreneur, as a catch-phrase, really hadn’t really been used much at that point). It was a calculated risk, but one that each and every day I’m thankful I had the support of family, friends and colleagues to take.
Being able to do what I love and make a living at it is the greatest success! Being able to pick and choose who I work with and what projects I undertake gives me the freedom build my business into exactly what it should be.
And as a one-woman operation, I’m responsible for every aspect of the job—meaning things are done to my standards and I don’t settle for anything less. And even more important than taking the credit for a job well-done, it also mean taking blame when I fail to deliver (for whatever reason, without blaming others). Looking critically at yourself isn’t an easy thing to do—in fact, it’s quite painful and often embarrassing.
No one wants to admit when they’ve done something wrong, but when you’re the “boss” and the “employee” at the same time, you have to be responsible for every step along the way. Failure to do so, results in a quick elimination of respect within the industry in which you work. The ability to acknowledge a mistake and more importantly, correct it and work to prevent it in the future, shows a level of human integrity that most business contacts will respect and admire. No one is perfect and anyone who pretends otherwise is a fool.
Being “independent” means you stand proud for who you are, what you do and what you believe in. It also means you monitor your own moral compass and hold yourself accountable to the same standards that you do for others. Working as a self-employed consultant isn’t for everyone. It’s a 24/7/365 gig that often demands more than you think you can handle. But, beyond that, it gives back more than you could ever imagine. It gives validation, it gives fulfillment, it gives pride. I wouldn’t have it any other way!