I’m not sure when I first became aware of the concept of entrepreneurship. It had to be while I was in college, or perhaps even later than that. I knew that some people had jobs and others owned companies, but I didn’t distinguish the levels and hierarchy any further than that. Yet when I came online in 2006, there it was. Everywhere I looked, people were discussing online entrepreneurship. Some self-described as being “serial” entrepreneurs.
Both specifically and generally, entrepreneurship was something just out of my grasp that I so wanted to become a part of for myself. I kept reaching further and soon I was describing what I did as entrepreneurship when I talked to friends, family, and those I knew from the non-profits and other organizations in my city.
While I was growing up, my mother would regularly remind me that “no one promised us a rose garden.” I soon learned this was the title of a song written in 1967 by American singer-songwriter Joe South. It was first recorded by Billy Joe Royal on his 1967 studio album.
In 1970, country vocalist Lynn Anderson recorded “Rose Garden” after hearing South’s original version. However, Anderson’s producer rejected the song’s recording because he did not consider it to be a female tune. After much convincing, the song was eventually recorded and released as a single by Columbia Records. The song became a crossover hit after it reached both the American Billboard country and pop charts. “Rose Garden” also became a major hit worldwide, reaching the number one spot in multiple countries. Her version is my favorite and these are the beginning lyrics:
I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden
Along with the sunshine, there’s gotta be a little rain sometime
When you take you got to give so live and let live or let go
I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden
I could promise you things like big diamond rings
But you don’t find roses growin’ on stalks of clover
So you better think it over
Well, if sweet talkin’ you could make it come true
I would give you the world right now on a silver platter
But what would it matter?
I always took these lyrics to mean that life isn’t easy and isn’t meant to be. The part I didn’t understand was that we hold the secret to making life simple and joyous and prosperous and, well… easy! By taking full responsibility for everything that comes into my realm of thought, life has become easy for me and meets all of my needs. Entrepreneurship was a natural extension of this.
Within Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, entrepreneurship would fall somewhere in the areas of esteem and self-actualization needs. This includes his upper level of psychological needs and all of his self-fulfillment needs.
Often I think about this hierarchy and how it took me decades to finally apply these principles to my own life. I believe I got stuck in the “love and belonging” needs and just kept playing the tapes that were in my mind around this, over and over again. Once I got unstuck, and I honestly believe this occurred after I began taking full responsibility, then I smoothly and naturally moved up the ladder to explore my life experience more fully.
Working as a classroom teacher for twenty years before coming online in 2006, I can remember feeling like a child at times. Having to ask for permission to use the restroom while class was in session, or needing to take a few hours off for a medical appointment or an emergency was not a pleasant experience for me. I was more than willing to trade in my life as an employee for that of an entrepreneur. I wanted to call the shots in my life and be responsible and accountable to myself at all times.
When I was getting started online I couldn’t believe how much there was to do. During my first six months I used to say I was working “half days” to accomplish my goals. By this I meant 12 hours out of every 24, seven days a week and I knew that wasn’t sustainable for my health or my goals for online entrepreneurship. How did I get that down to four or five hours a day, five days a week? I chose the parts of the business I liked and could become productive and proficient at doing and let others do the rest. To this day, I’m only actively engaged in writing, product and course creation, marketing (my favorite activity and so much fun!), and mentoring those who are following in my footsteps. At least one day a week I stay mostly unplugged, except for replying to emails related to the business. How will you move forward while also valuing your time by getting away from the business you love on a regular basis? One thing I recommend to those I mentor is to take a 36 hour “vacation” to a location close by your home. This could be at a hotel, in a campground, or at a friend’s home if they understand in advance you need some time alone while you are there. These getaways continue to make me feel like I am in control of my destiny at every turn and under all types of circumstances.
Every day I work on my business. This is different from working “in” my business in that I don’t need social media, or a computer, or even electricity. Why? Because working on your business happens in your mind, where you are generating thoughts and ideas at the speed of light and sound. Just like a professional athlete never strives to put their sport out of their mind, a true entrepreneur could not imagine putting their business dreams out of their mind either. How does it feel when you think about the business you want to create online?
When I began fifteen years ago these types of thoughts could be painful. This was because I wasn’t sure what to do next and how to identify my next steps. Then I took action anyway and could see the results, or lack thereof with something I had done. My goal then became a simple one: do more of what was working and stop doing what didn’t work at all. Over time I became more skilled at choosing what to focus my attention on and my business goals began to fall into place. Perhaps your next “best” step would be to create a simple blog post, as I’ve done here.
How Does Entrepreneurship Feel?
People ask me regularly how I became successful as an entrepreneur, but it’s seldom that someone asks me how it feels to achieve my business goals. It wasn’t until I came online in 2006 that I realized I was not a model employee at any of the plethora of jobs I’d had since I was a teenager. Even the ones I loved, at least at first like classroom teaching were not ones I wanted to do forever. Part of it was the fact that my own ideas would not be recognized because of the structure of the school district. But another was that I had no choice when it came to who I would be working with each day. Real estate investment strategist Nelda Schulte shared her thoughts around this topic in her article Lessons Learned From My Entrepreneurial Successes and Failures:
I changed careers and joined the world of 9:00 -5:00 work. Becoming an employee after being an entrepreneur took some adjustment, and after 15 years, I yearned to be my own boss again. My biggest gripe with the world of work was that I didn’t have any control over the people I was working with. During the interview processes, employers made it clear they were seeking the best, brightest, and most skilled only to hire me then tell me to sit on my hands and wait for my boss to tell me what to do. Although it paid well, I felt that I was losing my soul.
Employment didn’t stop me from pursuing entrepreneurship though, and while working, I started a number of part time businesses.
Nelda’s story is one I resonate with and you may as well. Health and wellness expert Cheryl A. Major describes entrepreneurship as being exciting, creative, boundless, scary, and challenging. I love what she has to say in her article on Being an Entrepreneur:
I realize my potential to create, to grow, to inspire and to earn is boundless. Any limits are ultimately imposed by me; perhaps by my insecurities at times and sometimes by my challenge to get and stay methodical and organized. My biggest charge comes from being in front of a group, either live or on a Zoom presentation. At one time in my life I was a singer, and when performing, I loved having that connection with the audience. When you can feel them in sync with you and they feed you energy that you return to them…well, that is an experience that is hard to truly describe!
And you may be fascinated, as I am that both Nelda and Cheryl have experience and a background with music and singing. Entrepreneurs are creatives at heart and have a vast repertoire of tools to draw upon for their businesses.
Standing Up for What You Believe
It was during the first of my twenty years as a classroom teacher when I finally found my voice and stood up for myself. I was being chastised by the other teachers for going out of my way on a daily basis to create more projects and lessons, and even spending time with the students and their families after school and on the weekends. One Saturday I took some of my students to the beach. Even though our school was located less than twenty miles from the Pacific Ocean, none of them had ever seen it. Being able to experience this through their eyes was exhilarating and magical to me.
The following Monday I went in to the teacher’s lounge at recess and the teachers were talking about my trip to the beach after hearing some of the students sharing their adventure on the yard that morning before school began. One of the teacher’s stood up and said to me, “You’ll learn.”
I knew what he meant by that comment. Over time I would learn that it was better to limit my communications and interactions with the students and their families and stick to the lesson plans and curriculum provided by the school district. But I did not believe that was best. I stood my ground and addressed everyone in the room that day when I answered,
“And when I do learn, I will no longer be a classroom teacher.”
Nineteen years later I resigned my position with the Los Angeles School District and became an author and entrepreneur. The twenty years of experiences and memories are some of the most valuable and cherished ones I have experienced.
Stress expert Shirley Noah addresses this concept of standing up for yourself in her post on 10 Important Truths About Being an Entrepreneur:
Stand Up for What You Believe In
Being an entrepreneur also gives you the chance to stand up for what you believe in. In times like these, standing up for your beliefs and making tough and uncomfortable decisions can make a massive positive difference. Join a group, write a blog or record a podcast, express yourself. There are so many ways to make your stand these days. Every little contribution helps spark change that shapes people’s lives.
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.“– Winston Churchill.
The Entrepreneur’s Mindset
Mindset is a huge piece of the entrepreneurship puzzle. We tell ourselves stories that make no sense but are firmly entrenched in our thinking. Former educator and lifestyle strategist Vicki Peel shares her experiences in her post on The Mindset of an Entrepreneur:
I developed that dreaded disease of analysis paralysis. All the reasons for not jumping into the online entrepreneurial fray kept me from moving forward with something I really wanted to do.
There were two major drawbacks that also kept me from taking further action. I was an extreme introvert who didn’t like to talk and although I thought I could share my knowledge in ways that could help people, I wanted to do it incognito. I was afraid to open myself up to scrutiny by online experts or an audience who might be too critical and think my information was worthless.
It was at least two years before I mustered up the courage to act on my ideas. What a waste of precious time!
As you can see, there is much to consider and absorb as you make the conscious decision to enter the world of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship may not promise you a rose garden, but the possibilities are endless. I had no idea I would learn so much, become a writer, connect with people I now consider to be the fabric of my life, and gain the time freedom and financial status that would change not only my life, but the lives of those around me when I joined this world. I hope you will save this article and refer to it regularly as you make your own decisions and come to your conclusions on how this business model will serve you over time. Reach out to me any time and please take a look at some of the books I have authored and published.
I’m a Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author, an independent publisher, and serial entrepreneur Connie Ragen Green and would love to connect with you. If you’re new to the world of online entrepreneurship please check out my training on how to sell yourself at Sell Yourself and Your Stuff and learn how to gain an unfair advantage when it comes to building a lucrative online business.