Post by BlogPaws CEO Yvonne DiVita
The day was dragging on like a bad movie with too many extras. I remember sitting at my desk wondering how I was going to make it through the whole week.
“Why am I doing this?” I thought. What I really meant was, “Why am I doing this?” You get the subtlety, right?
In comes my boss, a fifty-something, thin, mustached gentleman who hired me for my marketing advice and ideas, but seldom listened to them or allowed me to implement them. He approached my desk at a brisk pace. I couldn’t see his eyes behind his glasses because the sun was shining on the lenses, causing a bright yellow glare to precede him across the room. The front desk receptionist was trailing behind him, I realized as he reached my desk. She looked decidedly uncomfortable.
“Curiouser and curiouser,” I thought, much like my childhood friend, Alice ; she of Alice in Wonderland “Curiouser and curiouser,” cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English).
At that moment, on that morning, in the mood I was in, proper English was the furthest thing from my mind, too.
What transpired was my being dismissed, told to pack up my desk, take my belongings and skedaddle. Or words to that effect. The entire event was rather sudden and unexpected. I have never been sure why it was necessary to have the receptionist there as a “witness” but there she was, wringing her hands, avoiding eye contact, sighing as if the weight of the world was slamming down on her shoulders.
I don’t remember how I felt immediately afterwards or what I did. Did I slouch out the door and scurry home? Unlikely. I don’t slouch nor do I scurry. Did I skip gleefully to my car and go for ice cream? Unlikely. I remember feeling a bit angry so it’s more likely I trudged to the car and went home to fume.
In the end, being dismissed led to starting my own business, being my own boss, creating my own work.
We’ve been talking about the idea of creating your own job/career for a few weeks now. Many of you left comments talking about the difficulties and scariness and need to “pay bills”… lamenting that this whole process of going out on your own wasn’t/isn’t as easy as some make it out to be. Or, that, even if we say it’s hard, we don’t say how hard.
I’m here to share today. I’m here to say, it’s hard. It’s damn hard. Not because setting up an office in your dining room is hard. That’s easy. Get the laptop out and you’re in business.
It’s not hard because the day stretches ahead of you like an endless country road, and you (at first) are not sure which bend to take, or which signs to obey, or which trees you can stop and rest at.
It’s hard because… there is no one there to tell you what to do, and there is no one there to sign your paycheck, and…you have rent or a mortgage; you have grocery bills; light bills; garbage bills for crying out loud! Not to mention the monthly bill from trips to PetSmart!
That’s exactly how I felt, too, in those first days after going out on my own. After deciding that I was NOT going to pound the pavement and look for another job… another chance to work hard for someone else… I settled in to working from home, doing what I knew I could do.
I am a writer at heart. No matter what else I do, the written word is my passion. Books are more valuable to me than diamonds.
Therefore, I decided I would find a way to get paid to write. I would sit at my desk and write every day. I would show the world that I could write and I could get paid to write and that writing was me, who I am. That’s what I decided.
And that’s what I did.
Did I do the kind of writing I wanted to do? No. Well, of course I did, but I did not get paid to do the kind of writing I wanted to do. I looked at the world around me, I looked at my talents, and I realized I could help business owners by being their web content writer. The novel and fiction, I decided, would have to wait.
I wrote web content, mostly for tech companies. I didn’t get rich, but I made enough to pay my bills. Then, as I was doing that, I continued to study writing, and the web, because I knew those two disciplines were my future, and lo and behold I learned something valuable. I learned that my gender could influence my income if I put it to good use. No, I didn’t turn to… exotic novel writing, although I’m sure that does make people a good bit of cash.
What I discovered during my use of the web and my studying and my focus on how valuable the internet was becoming to the world of business, was that women were being overlooked. It was as if no one realized women were flocking to the web for all sorts of things; for information, for education, to socialize and to shop.
And so, I decided to write a book about how women use the internet. And, because I was quite familiar, via my freelance writing career with the world of traditional publishing and how long it can take, I decided to publish the book myself. My book had to be available in real time because it was about using the internet and we all know, the internet changes daily. What’s in today, is not necessarily in tomorrow. In fact, as Tom likes to say, “If you think you’re an expert on anything web-related, well, you haven’t checked your email today.”
I wrote my book. I continued to work on my consulting, and between the two of us, Tom and I managed to keep paying the bills. I won’t lie- we did take money out of savings. We did subsidize ourselves here and there. But, those moments merely gave us added incentive to get the book done, to improve our connections with possible clients, and to keep reviewing our activity to make sure we were putting in the correct time and effort.
Here’s what happened next: the company I chose to publish my book (self-publishing doesn’t mean you print the book in your basement, though it can), turned out not to be as customer-friendly as I would have liked. They were even incompetent, at times. My account manager changed, monthly, it seemed. And, in the end, we discovered the book was printed right around the corner from where we lived! That’s right. It was sent to a printer in my hometown.
That was my wake up call. It said, “Why are you dealing with a third party? Do this yourself.” Just as I made the decision not to search for another job a year before, I made the decision to open my own publishing company, following the fiasco of my book being released. Tom was with me all the way. Indeed, Tom influenced much of what I decided to do because he saw the possibility also.
We launched WME Books, a division of Windsor Media Enterprises, and began to publish other people’s books using print on demand.
We were, officially, in business. Using the skills and talents our former “bosses” had refused to recognize or support.
How we got from WME Books to BlogPaws is another story. Suffice it to say, the road to independence is rocky, twisted and sometimes very dark. There is worry and fear waiting around every corner, it seems. If you let the rocky road deter you, you will never know the joy of being your own boss. If you let the fear and worry get to you, you will always be waiting for a better day.
We did what needed to be done. We left the house several times a week and attended various networking events to meet people and share our story. We smiled when people said what we were doing wasn’t going to succeed. We believed we would succeed and we did succeed. We became publishers – and WME Books released more than 20 amazing titles, before we moved on… to something else.
I’ll share the something else… in another post, another time.
What’s holding you back? Acknowledge the fear and worry, but understand that those emotions can strangle you. Instead of allowing that to happen, get out, meet people, talk about your dreams, learn from others and implement what you learn. Not all of it will work. But some will. Take the some that works and improve on it. Make your success necessary.
Necessary tasks get done. It was necessary for Tom and me to succeed. So, we did. You can, too. I truly believe that. As Captain Picard used to say, “Make it so.”