Entrepreneurship and imposter syndrome — or what my dogs taught me about running a business.
I founded my business when I was pregnant with my younger daughter. She is now 16 and my girls and my business have grown up together.
There have been teething problems, there have been growing pains — but most of the time it has been a delightful journey where I didn’t really know what I was doing as parent or entrepreneur, but I was happy to give it a go.
Over the decades both children and business have blossomed in ways I never imagined.
I design and make a range of handmade gifts and sell them online, my business is successful. I make a decent living from it and I have a team of 5 working with me.
This year I attained the entrepreneurial Holy Grail and am officially location independent. If I have wifi, my paints and a laptop I can pretty much work from anywhere in the world.
Admittedly I haven’t actually left home yet . . . but in theory I could.
However, 16 years in, I still do not think of myself as a ‘proper entrepreneur’.
Proper entrepreneurs, you read in all the coaching books, struggle and strive. They get up at dawn and work through to the early hours.
The language around them is ugly and thrusting — they hustle, they pimp, they are badass and killing it.
Proper entrepreneurs do not work around a growing family, get a full night’s sleep or have time to tend, and smell, the roses.
I must, therefore, not be an entrepreneur.
Last week I was feeling prickly and irritated, seeing yet another cookie cutter business coach in a facebook group telling a frazzled mother to get up at 5 and put in a few hours writing before her children woke.
Then I thought about my dogs and it all fell into place — that coach is just a different breed to me.
I have 2 dogs.
Jasmine is a very scruffy miniature schnauzer, she lives to sleep and eat biscuits — she is the most stubborn animal known to man but gets away with it because she is small and sweet and her rebellions are quiet.
Dixie is a springer spaniel, obsessed with playing fetch and guarding our home from the postman. She is always ‘on’ and, if not exercised constantly, becomes swiftly depressed and destructive.
If I were to send them off to write books about what it takes to be a ‘proper dog’ they would produce very different manuals.
Dixie would swear that the secret to being a dog was to find good sticks, be alert, to run a lot and to bark at everyone in a fluorescent jacket because you never know . . . .
Jasmine would equally strongly suggest that proper dogs sleep a lot, beg for biscuits and watch a lot of television while allowing themselves to be fussed.
They are both excellent dogs. They both bring their own characters and natural talents to the job. I would not attempt to confine my spaniel to a cushion or to take my schnauzer swimming.
And so, maybe, it is with entrepreneurs — particularly with creative entrepreneurs, particularly with entrepreneurs who welcome the pram in the hall.
I choose to live a life and I choose to build a business. In my own way, with lots of rest and lots of other interests. It works for me — my business grows and thrives.
Others choose to strive and push, to focus on their businesses and hustle their way forward. It works for them.
It made me recognise that we should treat ourselves with more respect and compassion, we should play to our own strengths, admit and admire our own characters.
We should celebrate success, however it is achieved.
Most of all we should stop holding up very specific, inbuilt, natural character traits as the only way of doing something.
Just because one successful person thrives on 5 hours sleep and swears by a ten mile run at 6 am every morning does not mean that that applies to anyone else. Just because I work best emerging slowly into a day of creation does not mean that everyone else should do the same.
I am me and you are you and we are both aiming high.
We are being the best we can be.
I hope you enjoyed this post — I am designer and chief cheerleader for Snapdragon, an online membership shopping site. If you enjoyed this, please press the heart icon to help other people find me. You can find out more about the membership and our handmade gifts over at www.snapdragononline.co.uk. Thanks for reading, Jane x