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How Being a Business Owner Taught Me to Honor Myself

Over the past seven years of being a marketing consultant and owner of Fortune Marketing, I’ve evolved as a business owner- and as a person.  My first few years as a marketing consultant were about proving something –  to whom, I don’t know.  Maybe to all those naysayers who said I couldn’t survive on my own- especially during the Great Recession! Or maybe to myself, who never thought I was good enough, or committed enough or motivated enough.

All I know is that the first few years of my business, I worked my ass off. In my second year, I had surgery and was answering emails from my hospital bed, not two hours after exiting post-op! I was obsessed!  But it paid off; by my third year I was making more money than I’d ever made working for someone else.  And I started having big ideas about building a multi-million-dollar business, hiring lots of employees and running around the country speaking and building the business.

Me in Switzerland

Me in Switzerland

But last year something shifted.  I discovered – or finally admitted- I don’t want to devote my entire life to making that happen. I don’t want to work 80 hours a week! I grew up watching my mother devote her life to a job that practically killed her. And now in retirement, her body is failing her because of decades of long hours and hard physical work.  That’s not how I want my life to play out.

Being a small business owner has given me the freedom to define how I work and how I live my life. I finally realized that I am in control of my life and have the power to make my own schedule and my own hours – I didn’t have to be tied to a traditional 9-5, 40-hour work week (which was closer to 80 hours working for myself!) that had been indoctrinated into me all my life!   I could take Wednesday off if I wanted or work at midnight. I could screw around half the week and work all weekend if I needed to. As long as I met my commitments to my clients, it didn’t matter when, how – or even where I worked!

I eventually realized that working 30 hours a week was a much better balance for me– and believe it or not, I was more productive!  I started taking long walks with my dog every afternoon, an hour or so to work out at the gym every morning and 3-4 week vacations exploring Europe and backpacking the Sierras.  Not only was I more productive and effective at my job, – I felt healthier both mentally and physically!

Greece 2014

Athens Greece, 2014

Today, at seven years in business, my practice and my life look very different than it did four years ago.  I’ve always valued time and new experiences over money and once I stopped trying to prove something, I was able to accept that and build Fortune Marketing into something that reflected who I really am.

Last year, after backpacking alone for 26 days on the John Muir Trail (you can read my blog about it here), the shift that had begun to take hold solidified:  I decided I was going to work to live, not live to work. That shift has changed how I do business and how I live my life.  While I still believe in conducting business with integrity and giving every single customer all that I have, I am staying more true to myself and my core values:  doing the work I love- not the work that makes me the most money, with the small business owners and start up entrepreneurs who value me and my time and who really need a (business) friend on their side.

So, Fortune Marketing Company will never be a multi-million-dollar company on the front page of Entrepreneur magazine. But I will always be a marketing consultant who cares about small business and wants to help entrepreneurs succeed – only now I will do it in a way that allows me to live the life of my dreams. Who can ask for anything better than that?

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