Could You Ever Own Your Own Business?

by | Nov 1, 2016 | Blog, Business/ Career, Finances, Mindset | 0 comments

Elaine’s company Tympanogen, Inc. is impressive. Her business requires a board, serious funding from investors, and FDA approval. I am blown away by her vision, drive, and persistence, as well as her incredible background of scientific knowledge. This, to me, is the epitome of business ownership. It is not, however, the only way to own a business, and that is something that I believe is important to stress – for those of you who, like me, have let a list of self-imposed rules & requirements keep you from pursuing your dreams of owning your own business.

Until about 16 months ago, I had no idea that there were so many nuances and levels of business ownership. I thought owning my own business required prerequisites such as a business degree and either a large personal financial investment or a large amount of funding in the form of loans or venture capitalist investors – or all of the above!

I did not have tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to invest in a brick-and-mortar establishment, and I certainly did not want to borrow that much, so I assumed that meant that business ownership was out of my league.

I guess I hadn’t paid a lot of attention to the signs pointing toward business ownership that had always been present in my life: my mother’s many solopreneur-type efforts to work from home and be available to her children; my dads’ third-party administration business that they built from a couple of clients to hundreds of ongoing clients with a staff of 12. At the risk of rhyming and sounding corny, I will admit that I let my naïveté stand in my way.

I’ve mentioned my perfectionism, right? Well, my attitude toward the complete impossibility of owning my own business was clearly another example of my perfectionism holding me back.

What I (finally!) came to realize is that I was boxing myself in to a limited perspective of what I was capable of doing, achieving, and having in my life, based on some parochial, uninformed definitions of entrepreneurship.

What it takes to own your own business or to be an entrepreneur:

  1. an idea that people are willing to pay for and
  2. the effort required to sell that idea and follow through on providing the product or service.

That’s it. Jenifer and I invested about $1500-2000 in the first year of our initial business [around $1000 each], which is a far cry from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Within the first 12 months, we earned back every penny we had put into it plus enough to start purchasing business assets (like the awesome 15″ Macbook Pro that I am currently using to compose this blog post) and to fund our business expenses for the coming year. Now our business is debt-free, the money we earn is profit, and our goal is to keep it that way.

The main investment that Jenifer and I have made in starting our own business (which I know is a valuable commodity) has been time. We knew we didn’t have a lot of money to spend on starting a business, but we could afford to give it a fair amount of our time, at least for a little while.

So, we talked to lots of people, picked the brains of business experts we knew, asked tons of questions of the people who would be our potential and actual customers, and went to work! Here’s what we found out in our research:

All it takes to have a service-based business is

  • telling people what you do and
  • accepting the opportunities to do that thing for them.

Sometimes it’s intimidating – like the first time we skyped in a speech to a women’s conference of scientists transitioning from academia to industry in Australia (which required us to stay awake and alert until 2:00am, and also required flexibility with the limits of technology – i.e. keeping calm when they could hear us but we could not hear them).

In truth, building our own business simply requires taking one step at a time. Here’s what we’ve done:

  1. We set goals.
  2. We took action steps to reach those goals.
  3. We have allowed ourselves to identify failure quickly, pivot, and move on.
  4. Rather than being afraid of our failures, we celebrate them as an opportunity to get even clearer on who our target audience is and how we are going to reach them.
  5. We have stayed focused, flexible, and optimistic, and it is paying off.
  6. We have the pride of owning our own business that we have crafted for ourselves, in which we can 100% be ourselves. No one tells us what we can or can’t do, or say, or how to behave.
  7. We have the reward of helping to empower others to achieve their personal and professional goals.
  8. We have learned A LOT about ourselves and about how to have and run a business.
  9. We get the excitement of learning more every single day.
  10. While we love everything about what we’ve achieved so far, it’s also exciting to have a bigger vision of where we want to go.
  11. There is so much more to learn, there are so many more people, businesses, and learning institutions to help, and we can hardly wait to see how far we can take this.

So, if you are someone who never thought you could own your own business, start telling yourself a different script: it is possible. It doesn’t require tons of money. It takes time. It takes determination. It takes fluidity and flexibility – being open to failure and change. It takes resilience. But it is doable.


What is your business dream?  Do you want to own your own business?

Can we help you get there? We would love to! Let us know how.

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