Self Employment And The Keys To Staying Power

Self-Employment and the Keys to Staying Power

A few weeks ago I was enjoying dinner with my brother, Tom, and we got into a discussion about self-employment. We have both been self-employed for many years and have successfully weathered a variety of economic storms and personal life crises that would surely cause most budding entrepreneurs, and even some of the old pros, to throw in the towel.
We began reminiscing about Tom’s first business, which was a yard care service that he started at age twelve with his best friend. He lived with me and my sister at the time, and he came home one day to proudly announce this first enterprise. With a smile from ear to ear, he handed me his business card, boldly emblazoned with the company name “M.A.C.O.W.”. He informed me that this was short for “Millions are coming our way”, which eventually did, although not through his yard care business. Still, it was amusing to think about this early example of the power of focused intention.
Too young to drive a car, Tom and his buddy built a big, wooden flatbed on wheels to carry all their supplies. They pulled this gardening-ready cart around from job to job, like two Clydesdales hauling a parade float. No doubt, there was an advertising bonus in this. We started laughing about Tom’s propensity for creative problem solving and for doing whatever it takes to overcoming obstacles. Chuckles aside, we both agreed that these attributes were two important keys to success for both of us in our entrepreneurial endeavors.
Our discussion segued into my self-employed past and my first business venture, which was a perfume company that I started at age five. My mother was a major buyer of Avon products and I liked to collect all her used perfume and lotion bottles. She also loved rose bushes, of which we had many. She taught me and my young siblings how to soak rose petals to make rose scented perfume. One day I connected the dots between available perfume bottles and available rose perfume, and my mind went straight to “I can make money with this”. I immediately started bottling homemade concoctions and selling them door to door–very successfully, I might add, although this probably had little to do with the quality of my perfume.
By the time I was fourteen, I had generated income from many small businesses, including a weed pulling company; producing and selling handcrafted aprons and pot holders door-to-door; making novelty items for doctors to give to their young patients during the holidays; and with the help of my best friend’s father, landing an account with the Reno International Airport to supply stuffed animals (made of felt) that were adorned with the slogan “Reno or Bust”.
Of course, in running any business, there are challenges. My early challenges included: Labor disputes with my weed pulling helper, who also happened to be my sister; rainy day slumps in apron sales; heated disagreements with my girlfriend over the most efficient strategies click more details for mass producing stuffed animals, and the list goes on.
All of this honed my leadership, management, and communication skills. I learned something valuable from ever blip in the journey. I learned how important it is to only choose goals and engage in business ventures that ignite one’s inner fire and that feed the heart—that anything less leads to unfulfilling outcomes and a lack of motivation to carry on; I learned how to let go of my ego, which is sometimes required in order to do whatever it takes; and I learned how to switch gears in a timely fashion when a plan is not working, or a goal that I have chosen no longer calls to my soul.
I went on to create bigger and more fruitful businesses for myself. Not failure free, for sure. My path has had plenty of ups and downs, but I have managed to stay in the game through it all – for over 50 years now, and still going strong. I believe that the same attributes that have produced my self-employment staying power are the mainstays of success in the achievement of any noteworthy goal.
Last night I got an email from my friend Jack, whose wife, Elizabeth, has suffered from Parkinson’s disease for over fifteen years now. These noble spirits have exercised mastery level staying power in the face of this challenge. They have researched and tried new potential remedies continually; used creative problem solving to survive the day-to-day strain of it all; and have done whatever it takes to achieve their heart’s desire – which has never been to simply generate a smoother path to death. The goal has always been full recovery from the condition, despite the odds.
Three months ago, Jack and Elizabeth tried yet one more innovative idea: Elizabeth had “Deep Brain Stimulation” (DBS) surgery. This time, the plan hugely paid off, with results that seem almost miraculous, including: tremors down 98%, bladder activity almost normal, sleep patterns normalized, critically needed weight gain achieved, ability to walk improved 70%, ability to exercise regained (after 5+ years of being able to do nothing more than sit in front of the TV shaking)…and more. While the ultimate goal of full recovery has not been achieved yet, this is pretty darn close!
In summary, if you want to succeed long-term in the world of the self-employed, or with the achievement of any noteworthy goal, start by getting clear about and staying focused on your heart’s desire; hone your creative problem solving skills; heighten your awareness of the resources that surround you and make good use of them; learn from everything that you experience; and be willing to do whatever it takes to achieve the goal.
To your success!
Michele Fitzgerald
Founder, Senzar Learning Center