Monday, June 23, 2008


Saturday night I took some dear friends out for a special dinner. They are venturing into self proprietorship with a few weeks. I am thrilled to see them so excited about operating their own business. My husband and I have owned ours for nearly 17 years now. And while it’s more work than most people can believe, it is also extremely rewarding. Seeing something that you’ve put so much of yourself into and finally seeing it work the way you planned. (I imagine all the mothers out there will give me some stories too.) There are lots of pros and cons to self employment, one is of course flexibility, but that isn’t always the case. I’ve said before that the business I’m in is dependant on the summer’s heat. So while in the winter time I’m able to leave early, take a couple of days of here and there, in the summer I have to work much longer hours and often bring much of it home at night. I’m not complaining. Far from it, but every time people think I’ve got it made, they’ve got no idea at the cost of that freedom they think they see.

Sorry I rambled a bit, it happens often. So at dinner one of them asked me, “How long were you in business before you thought you were successful?” My immediate response, “I still don’t. I’m hoping maybe next year.” And we laughed, but then he got serious again. “No, really. How long?”

I couldn’t answer that. And it’s bugged me all weekend. Everyone's definition of success is different. And my husband and I are very driven people, so as soon as we met one threshold (being able to pay bills), we set another for ourselves (being able to pay employees), then another (let’s open a branch office 4 hours away), and then so on and so on. Even now, 17 years into our business, we keep pushing ourselves to do more. I’m sure everyone that looks at us thinks we’re successful, but I don’t think him and I see it that way. We both believe that once you become complacent, that's when the problems start to happen.

I asked him the question and he said we’re not successful yet. :-) Knew he’d say that. Now there are reasons why we push ourselves so hard, but I’m SO not getting into that here. But it is true, everyone’s definition of success is different. It’s all based on what your goals were, how you met them, and even your background. I believe I’m successful in my life, but not because of my business. I have a wonderful husband, my little girl is about the coolest thing on the planet, great friends and family that I love and adore. My child isn’t sick and I’m healthy so I know I should be here to raise her and I don’t have to worry too much about paying my bills. Although with gas prices, you never know. :-) Plus I get to pursue my dream of writing professionally. For me all of that is successful and I am grateful everyday for that. What is your idea of success?


Anonymous said...

You know, 5 years ago I might have said doing a great job managing a manufacturing plant, wearing several hats and making a great salary.

Well that changed when the boss decided he was embarrassed that a woman was running his company. It was a real downer when I was laid off and had to reassess my priorities.

And THAT's when I started exploring my passion for writing and looking at the important things at this stage of my life.

I don't want to work 800 hours a week anymore. It doesn't take as much to make me happy these days. With the economy the way it is, I want to stay fairly debt free so I won't feel pressured to take a job I don't like.

If I can pay bills doing something I don't abhor and write to my heart's content, and maybe work in some singing gigs, I'd probably be in success heaven.

Anonymous said...

Make that 80 hours a week.

Dani said...

Yeah, men still do that sometimes. That sucks for you. But I'm glad you found happiness in other things.