Saturday, March 17, 2007

Still Waiting For Your Ship To Come In?

My day-job as an elementary special education teacher leaves me privy to seemingly hundreds of "inspirational/educational" posters that, as most will recollect, tend to be left hanging on class & hallway walls for years. Who didn't have at least one classroom with the poster of Garfield sitting on a stack of books and the memorable words "I learn through osmosis" printed underneath? Ah, memories .... but I digress.
Yesterday, whilst walking the halls of my school, I chanced upon a poster I hadn't before noticed. While the image on it (a tanker ship in the ocean) was beautiful-in-a-concrete-business-sort-of-way, the words really struck a chord with me:

"Don't wait for your ship to come in.
Swim out to meet it"

Though I'm sure I've seen those exact words on numerous motivational posters before, yesterday they finally sank in. In terms of deciding when to finally start our own business, I think a lot of the time we are waiting for something to happen before doing so: figuratively, for our "ship to come in". Perhaps we are waiting until we are more-financially stable, until we've been at our current job longer, until we have more time, until we feel better, until we have our first child, until our last child is in school. There are always going to be numerous reasons why we cannot start our business "just yet". The thing is, once one reason is complete, there will always be another reason to follow.

I don't believe there is ever a perfect time to start your own business. Unless you are independently wealthy, have oodles of free time and unending childcare to boot, starting a new company is going to be tough. Face it. There's going to be lots of hours, paperwork, researching vendors, and expenses. Also, its scary. Its scary to be stepping out on your own, especially if you have only ever worked for someone else. You will have upsetting dreams and occasionally wake up panic-stricken at night, wondering who you forgot to contact, or how you're going to pay for such-and-such.

However, the BIG question is ... can you really risk not doing it? If your heart and soul are aching for something different, if your mind is regularily fantasizing about "breaking the mold", can you risk not even giving it a shot? Are you ok with going through the rest of your life wondering "what if?". Because the "what if?" will happen. If you continue to allow yourself to fall prey to the hoping-and-waiting syndrom, very quickly you will find yourself looking back instead of forward.

I didn't think I could handle the time committment, the work, the start-up costs, but I could and do. Somehow everything has found its own way. I can now proudly say that I have two jobs (one as a teacher, one as a business owner), write two seperate blogs, and STILL find time for my husband, family, and friends. True, some days are crazier then others, but it all seems to work out in the end (jealous? Don't be. Most days I look like hell and barely have enough clean clothes to wear due to lack of laundry time but, you know, you take the good with the bad .... ).

I think what I'm trying to say (boy, has this turned into a longer post then I intended!) is simple: go ahead and do it. If you really don't think you are able to handle a new business right now, set an actual timeline for when you will start it (not "when I have the time", but "by April 2008"). If you don't think you can afford it, start small and keep your day job. Your dream of a clothing store along a boutique avenue in your city could begin by opening an on-line store on ebay. Just as there are always going to be excuses for why you can't start your business right now, there will always be reasons & resources why you can. Sometimes it just takes stepping outside your comfort zone.

I'm going to end this post with another motivational-poster-ship-saying I found (what a way to tie it all together. High-five!):

"A ship in the harbour is safe ...
but thats not what ships were made for"

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