When I worked in Membership Services for the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, I was surprised by the part of that role that I found to be the most interesting, which was interacting with the small business owners. I think about it and didn’t realize that I was so attracted to their work and their stories because they were small business owners.
The thing about meeting an entrepreneur that is absolutely my favorite is learning the story behind what they are doing. A real and interesting story that someone can share with me. Those conversations are so juicy. When I worked in the Membership Services role, I met with owners and creators of all sorts – restaurants, tour companies, event planners and shop owners. It was the couple that started their unique walking tour, City Food Tours, that made me smile with their passion and excitement when they talked about what they were up to. Or the college kids that started a free Philadelphia walking tour because they just loved it. I remember meeting owners in their welcoming tiny restaurants sitting and asking each of them the story of how it all began. That’s all I was ever interested in…how’d you birth this idea and give it life? What was your motivation? How is it going?
Those are my favorite memories of a career path that is now far in my rear view. I even remember writing my “Tourism” college papers on peoples’ motivation to travel. I always want to know the story.
So as I continue to grow a small business while nurturing a growing family, I think back to all those stories that I’ve collected and learn so much from them. Johnathan Fields likened being an entrepreneur to a spiritual journey and it resonated with me because all that is unnecessary must fall away to create space for what needs to grow in both business and life. They both feel like solo trips, where we find and connect with like-minded people, but ultimately I feel that we are all alone, together.
I used to think I needed a business degree to have a business. I’m a grad school dropout who felt a heck of a lot better about it after listening to this episode of freakonomics radio. There were pieces of grad school that I LOVED and the 1/2 of an MBA (which for the record = no MBA, but still) that I have has served me well because I met one particular professor who blasted a whole area of the universe wide open for me that I didn’t even know existed.
So my story of my little startup is still forming, and evolving and changing every day. Like everyone’s. But basically, I was really, really lost and then I stood still, and then I found this activity that makes me really happy and I turned it into a “thing” with the encouragement and support of some amazing people I get to surround myself with pretty often. Things have been rocky lately and last night I called my mom crying. It’s frustrating when you invest your time and energy in things that are supposed to make you stress less…and you still get stress. And then someone shows you love and you remember, yet again, where the path is. It’s a funny thing how everything comes to be.
Just for fun, here is some excellent advice, whether or not you consider yourself a “Young writer.” Warning, these words are amazing.