As it turns out, I’m pretty determined, right? Think of it: This is Day 4 of the blogging challenge, and I’ve made it. Time to celebrate with a DRINK.
Easy, girl…the alphabet has another 22 letters after this.
I like how some of you have taken an active interest in my challenge, even offering suggestions for words beginning with C, T, and now with D: Donuts, Dork, Delirious, and Doing the Boss (although that one was quickly withdrawn for obvious reasons). Inasmuch as these words undoubtedly deserve a blog post of their own, I’m thinking about settling on something more along the lines of, I don’t know, my theme.
I came up with four great words that pertain to business: dreams, decisions, dedication– but I chose determination because I’ve seen so many good examples of it and have experienced it to the point of sleepless nights, draining my bank account, and working myself to the bone (or at least to the doctor for a tetanus shot) for the betterment of my projects. I think we’re all determined to be successful at something: at a job, as a parent or as a friend, but this post is focused on business ownership. Ultimately, this is what I’ve learned, and I’m not sure any business owner I know can disagree:
I am determined to be successful. But first, let me explain how this started.
In 2008, I lost my dream job–the job I thought would make me happy the rest of my life. I was a magazine editor, but, like my letter “C” post, I worked for the magazine like I owned it, too. I took home my computer and worked late into the night. I emailed, did the social media, edited the website, and researched long after the paid hours had stopped. I was psychotically determined to make that magazine shine. That was the year the housing market crashed, and with it, advertisers who paid for magazines like mine to exist, so my position was terminated. I was devastated. I had taken so MUCH ownership of it that I felt like I lost my own company.
I can point to this exact experience as the moment (once I stopped crying) that I realized I had to own a business myself. I realized I had allocated too many of my resources (personal time, family time, sleep, thoughts, ingenuity, creativity, determination, even money) to a company I didn’t own. I became determined to channel that dedication to a job I couldn’t lose except via my own mistakes. (However, “owning” a company wouldn’t be a foolproof plan. But that’s the story for letter “L.”)
First, I opened my own writing & communications company, but a chance interview I did during that editor’s job was what led me to the haunted house industry and to an accidental part-time job that launched me into owning not one, but two haunted house attractions a few years later.
For purposes of length, I’ll get right to the point: I was determined to make that haunted house work, but because I had my writing & editing company, I considered it only a fun hobby that paid well. I never thought I’d learn skills so valuable that a) I was head-hunted away from one company to own another, and b) persuaded to come back to the original company as a business partner.
Once becoming an owner, I gave those two haunted houses the exact effort I’d given my magazine job and my writing business; I was determined to have the best social media sites, the most followers, the best marketing campaigns, the coolest t-shirts, the most talented actors in the industry, realistic sets, a safe environment, unique attractions, scared but delighted customers, articles in the newspaper and magazines I either wrote or ensured were written about us, best radio ads, and happiest crew–and I did it, at times, at the expense of my family, friends, and health. I got dirty and I bled; I carried 16-ft 2x6s, stacked wall panels (some still had skin-splitting screws in them as seen in the photo), wore a tool belt, learned how to use a drill, painted, plastered, swept, raked, cleaned mosquito-infested swamps, and worked in 112 degree heat, sometimes wearing a headlamp until 2am. And. I. Loved. It. I can honestly say that I’m never happier than when I am creating something magical and making people happy.
When both of those companies ended, I was left with ideas, determination, and the drive to start all over again. And that’s really what it takes–that and heart. When other people are calling it quits at five o’clock, using their weekends for relaxing, hobbies, or vacations, those with entrepreneurial aspirations never stop thinking about what more they can do to get to that next marker of success. I was at the bank yesterday when the teller asked me what I did for Easter. “Work,” I replied. “I worked all weekend and loved it.”
I just thought of another word that begins with the letter “D” but it isn’t a word even vastly related to my theme of business ownership, so I could never use it.