This is a guest post by Ingrid Abboud and is part of The Entrepreneur’s Journey series.
I am not a CEO; I am self-employed.
I do not answer to a corporation; I answer to my clients.
I am not driven by empty success; I am driven by my performance and results.
I am not powered by employees; I am powered by my peers and community.
But I am a leader and I have a good idea of what it takes to become one. I hold my assets in one hand and my ambitions in the other.
Of Treps and Trekk’s
When Troy asked me to write a piece about being an entrepreneur, I questioned whether I could be labeled as such. You see, I had always associated the term with solid investments, good business sense and a portfolio of successful projects and ventures.
I only have the last two to show for.
So I went back to read Troy’s definition of an entrepreneur.
Unflinching was the key word he used – and unflinching is what I am; my desire to buck the trend, my burning will to win, my staunch refusal to adhere to the status quo and my determination to never give up.
Ha! It seems I am an entrepreneur after all. Maybe not a serial one like many, but a lifestyle one – or what they call a Trep.
Don’t look at me – I didn’t make up the word! It actually makes me think of Star Trek and believe me when I tell you that I could slap the silly out of Spock and all the Trekkie’s that follow him. And that’s my Wrath of Khan!
My apologies if you’re a fan and if you attend those wickedly nerdy’ish but presumably fun Trekkie conventions.
Alright, back on track…
Dammit, I’m thinking Trek again! Sheesh, can’t you give a Trep a break?!
A Lifestyle Entrepreneur
Wikipedia has this great definition of what a Lifestyle Entrepreneur is. But since it’s as long as this post, I’ll break it down for you.
“A lifestyle entrepreneur places passion before profit…”
When I graduated college, I went to train at Merrill Lynch. I was ready and excited to become the next “golden girl”. And though my background wasn’t finance, I knew the basics due to the exhausting Economics and Business classes I had promised my father I’d take.
You see, much like any old school Middle Eastern business man with a hard core European education, the most preferred fields to study would generally be:
- Business and Marketing
Instead, I slapped him with a Psychology degree with minors in Anthropology and Sociology.
But like I said – I was ready.
It wasn’t long however, before I realized that staring at a Bloomberg screen and crunching numbers as I analyzed another S&P report was as exciting as gouging my eyes out with an ice pick.
I lasted 7 months and called it quits a few weeks before my Series 7 exam. Though it was an enlightening experience, I knew that finance – as much as I loved the idea behind it and the perks that could come with it – wasn’t for me.
I went on to do my Masters in Mass Communications at one of the best schools in the country.
You see – I have a flair for people. I know how to communicate with them and am able to get a feel for their character within minutes. But I can’t handle dealing with numbers alone.
One - Try at least once what you think you want to become, but don’t be blinded by the thought.
Two – Ready doesn’t necessarily mean willing. If you can’t go a month without dreading each work day, then it’s time to find your real vocation.
“Common goals held by the lifestyle entrepreneur include being self-employed in order to work on projects that inspire them…earning a living doing something they have a particular interest, talent, knowledge or high degree of expertise in…”
One of my greatest passions is writing. I’ve been writing since I’ve been breathing. Well that and talking – hence the reason for my nittyGriddy blog as well as my Copywriting business.
I have the privilege of doing something I love for a living. Granted, I don’t earn the living I would have hoped for and am very capable of – but it’s the path I chose.
Would I choose it again? Yes – but I’d do a few things differently. However, that’s another novel in itself.
Besides the content writing work I do, I’m also a Marketing Communications professional.
I deal with a myriad of large international corporations as well as small private companies on a contract basis. My clients consist of private banks and financial institutions, holding companies, construction and real estate firms, advertising and communications agencies, website companies, different government sectors, restaurants and clubs…pretty much any and every industry you can think of.
The research and learning never stop. And if you ask me, it makes it all the more interesting.
I work my own hours on an array of projects both on-site and off. Considering my ridiculous sleep habits, having a self-imposed schedule is a huge plus for me. I’m rather nocturnal but somehow it works for me. I try and balance my time so that I can take advantage of both worlds – work and play. I’m much too fond of life to watch it pass me by.
I’ve helped a few companies implement MarCom strategies and I’ve created more corporate content than I care to think of. I’ve coordinated numerous website projects for clients and negotiated enough deals to compete with a mini Living Social. I’ve written speeches and Chairman’s letters to the point that I often recite them in my sleep. In my head, I own a couple banks, a few shipping companies, 3 hotels and 20 or so residential and commercial projects. It’s pretty cool really.
Since starting my blog, I’ve taken on several clients to help them with their Social Media Marketing efforts – a new passion that I didn’t know I could execute well until I actually did. After all, social and traditional media go hand in hand and let’s face it – if you know me, then you know I bring the human to marketing and the social to media. That would be me borrowing and deforming snippets from Danny Brown’s tagline.
Slowly but surely, my work portfolio expanded and my people connections grew. Having lived abroad my whole life also put me at a big advantage.
I built a small name for myself and with each project that I successfully completed, came another through word of mouth.
I say word of mouth because I’ve never marketed my own services. I relied on clients coming to me instead of the other way around.
If you’re frowning right now – you have every reason to. For a Marketer, that’s a pretty dumb mistake on my part. But then again, I’ve made many; more than I can count.
Pride and Passion
Am I passionate about each project I take on?
Can you imagine writing a bank’s annual report or making electro-mechanical appliances sound like they’re the next coolest thing since roller coasters? Probably not.
But if you look on the bright side, I’m now a walking-talking encyclopedia of random parts and crap. I’ve always said that I’d rather know a little about many things, than a lot about one thing. And in all honesty and modesty – I’d like to think that I’m fairly well-rounded. And at this rate, that will soon mean size as well.
I could have been exercising that talent as a consistent employee with any multi-national company I wanted. I could have spared myself the headache of not knowing when the next cheque would make its way to my bank account. I could have climbed the corporate ladder and been what I was expected to become by my family and friends. I could have had a more noteworthy title on my business card. I could have worked with a team of professionals by my side instead of on my own. I could’ve, should’ve…but didn’t.
By no means do I intend to sound arrogant or regretful for that matter – I’m far from being either. I may not be fully satisfied, but that’s quite normal when you’re ambitious.
I have nothing to prove to others and certainly nothing to brag out. Quite the contrary. I may deal with big numbers, but I sure as heck don’t make them. But I believe most people know the qualities they possess and how far they can go with them. And when they don’t, they are reminded of their potential by the people that know them and have faith in them.
One – Treasure your reputation and respect your name because it’s all you have. The blame will fall entirely in your lap and not on that of a company’s.
Two – Don’t expect people to come knocking on your door even if they have been. Put yourself out there and tell folks what you can do for them and how you can help them grow.
Three – If you can prove to yourself that you’re capable of achieving something, than that should be enough. I have a long ways to go. I have yet to use a quarter of my potential and sometimes being a lifestyle entrepreneur, isn’t as challenging or rewarding as it seems.
My Pennies of Wisdom
I don’t believe in passion over profit. I believe in profit from passion. If you can afford to do something you love, then do so. And if you can make a living from it, then you’re one of the luckiest people alive. But regardless of your passion or your entrepreneurial or employee status, I believe it’s determination that drives you and trial and error that reinforces you.
About the author: Ingrid Abboud aka ‘Griddy’ is a whole lot of things with a ridiculous amount of interests. For one, I’m a Social Media enthusiast with a tremendous passion for writing and blogging. I’m also a pretty cool Copywriter but a more serious MarCom Consultant. But most of all, I’m the proud owner and driving force behind nittyGriddy.com – A Kinda Social Media Journal with entertaining SM ramblings, Net News & more. You can follow Ingrid on Twitter @nittyGriddyBlog.
image: A Bear Named BrianTags: Entrepreneurs Journey, ingrid abboud