When you decide to go into business for yourself, within five minutes* a smart and well-intentioned person will appear at your coffee shop and hand you this book.
They’ll probably fall all over themselves telling you how it changed their business life, made sales and marketing dreamy easy and how you really need to readitalreadyokay?
If you’re not familiar with Start with Why, it’s a lovely, well-written business book that suggests businesses and leaders are more successful when their reason for being in business is inspiring. Those who are able to inspire will create a following of people – supporters, voters, customers, workers – who act for the good of the whole not because they have to, but because they want to.
We’re more likely support people/leaders/business who have high-minded, meme-worthy mission statements and ‘manifestos.’ (Holstee, I’m looking at you.)
So it follows that we self-employed types believe we should have an equally inspiring reason for being in business.
“I want to help women stand in their truth and re-connect with their innate wisdom.”
“I want to help entrepreneurs end the overwhelm and overcommitment.”
“I want to help busy moms find ways to be healthy and active so they can give their best to their kids and partners.”
And for the last, oh, ever I’ve been doing my best to come up with my own professional “why.”
If we met at a networking event** and you asked me why I’m a lifestyle blogger and ghostwriter I’d say something like:
“I want to help busy entrepreneurs free up time and space to do the work that lights them up.”
“I want to create a space where people can share their stories and connect with each other.”
“I want to help people to live adventurous, intentional, creative lives of their own design.”
While those are partially true, here’s the whole truth:
I want to be self-employed because I like taking six weeks off to road trip around America.
I want to be self-employed because I want my income (rather than my employer’s income) to reflect my hard work and creativity.
I want to be self-employed because I want to go to a matinee on a rainy Tuesday afternoon if I damn well feel like it.
(but none of that looks very good on a poster.)
And for a long time, I felt really guilty about this. Was every other self-employed creative completely selfless? Was everyone else trying to save the world through copywriting and business coaching? Didn’t anybody else want to earn more money and take longer vacations?
And then I watched this periscope and Hilary Rushford gave voice to my deepest, darkest secret.You can be your business's 'why' Click To Tweet
You can become a copywriter because writing comes easily to you and you like it. You can become a life coach because you give great advice and your family moves around a lot so you need a location-independent career. You can become a wedding photographer because you have a good eye, you already know how to use a DSLR, and your friend needs a second shooter.
These are all totally valid reasons to go into business.
Of course, (of course!) you should do work you enjoy! Obviously, you should be proud of the work that you put into the world. It’s very, very nice to have a larger plan or vision for what you’re creating.
But if you’re looking for permission – this is it.
This is your permission to pursue something because you want to make more money. Or because you want a career that works with your kids’ schedules. Or because you’re good at it and it comes easily to you.
When you like what you’re doing and the life you’re living, it’ll come through in your work.
And that’s enough.
Do you feel like you need to have a high-minded, world-saving ‘why’ behind your work? And if you have one – what is it?
* sliiiiight exaggeration but also not really
** which we wouldn’t because I hate networking events