A woman is sitting at a computer in a room full of boxes, contemplating "why start a business".

Find out what happened when I decided to take on a job, for the love not the money, and run my own business.

“Why did you start a business?” The thought runs through my head as I try to work out how I plan to juggle my business psychology consulting, volunteering for Flinders Uni & Veterans SA, mum duties, supporting my extended family, and try to navigate starting my dream job.

An interesting question. I started my business for the flexibility. So why would I take on a job?

My dream job happened by happenstance. I was talking to a friend, a Uni Professor, a few days after I took part in the review of the Bachelor of Business for Flinders Uni. I love mentoring for the Uni and spoke to my friend about what further qualifications I would need to be a lecturer. “None”, she said.

The next day she sent me a job ad for a lecturer role for a Bachelor of Business, I applied, interviewed, and here I am at the start of my third week as a lecturer – and I love it.

But why did I start my business if I ended up with a job?

Some people will say that if you’re not careful, your business will become a job you make for yourself. It’s meant to be a wake-up call. Something to inspire you to grow your business so that you can spend your days doing what you love and get others to do the work. That’s not my ideal.

Personally, the job is something that I was inspired to do. I wrote this on my social media on my first day:

Many years ago a friend told me about “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch.

I watched it and then grabbed a copy as I once lived in Pittsburgh and visited the Uni where the lecture was delivered.

While the theme is to pursue your childhood dreams, I never dreamt of being a teacher or lecturer. I did dream of becoming a psychologist but when I graduated, my field of interest wasn’t viable – business psychology.

You see, business psychology is only now emerging and a field.

I could never have dreamed this.

But I am pursuing it. I have been for the past 11 + years.

So, perhaps in this fast changing and emerging world we remember out childhood passions and look for opportunities that emerge.

It’s nice to think of what we wanted to be as kids, but for most of us the world just isn’t the same.”

 So this is where I’m coming from with this blog, “So why did you start your business then?” I’ve been asked this as a prompt for an elevator pitch, by curious friends or family, and by interested business colleagues.

Why did I start a business?

I really did start for the flexibility. I left a secure, well-paying government career for a handmade business and then my business psychology consulting. I did it because my career was stagnating in a male-dominated industry, my youngest was starting school, my husband’s career was progressing faster than my own, and it made sound financial sense for our family. Pursuing my own business, one that was just 18 months old, was a way to facilitate this and provide flexibility.

Now my eldest is at uni, my youngest has less than 18 months of school left, my husband’s career is still growing, and I’m looking to what brings me joy.

Too often when a business owner decides to get a job they either feel that they have failed at business or they have failed their “why they started a business”. Neither has to be the truth.

As I wrote online, “for most of us the world just isn’t the same” and it can change from when we started the business.

Honestly, even the “why we started the business” may have changed, may no longer be enough to keep us going, or may no longer serve us. And we shouldn’t feel beholden to something that no longer serves us.

It could be, like me, that we never dreamed that we might be able to do the job we now look to do. As I said, the world can change.

It could be that, like me, the world changes and our dream job comes into existence.

None of these are reasons not to pursue our dream. I mean, people change jobs all the time because they follow their passion or want something better. Why does that exclude those of us who choose to start a business?

Some business owners, like myself, have the fortune of being able to continue to run their businesses alongside their jobs. I can tell you it’s a juggle and I’m not sure how successful I will be. What I know is that if you want something bad enough, you’ll find a way to make it work. Oh, and I also know that we make the work that we have fit the time that we have, meaning we can generally do more with the time that we have. (Case in point, I started writing this blog at 9.30 pm on a Sunday night)

Why did you start a business?

If you’re running your own business then I want you to answer the following:
– do you remember why you started?
– does your business still achieve the reason why you started?
– does your business still need to achieve it?

How did you go? If you’ve drifted, I want you to know that I’ve been there. That’s part of why I stopped my handmade business. It drifted and I didn’t enjoy it anymore (it no longer did what I had intended).

Are you thinking about what you were passionate about when you were younger? Could you start doing something that exists now but you never dreamed of?

If you are unsure of what you need now or know you need something new, then I recommend grabbing this free download and design your dream business.

Too often we feel beholden to a business that no longer serves us. We often feel that change will damage our reputation, and profitability, or worse open us up to criticism of our ability to run a business.

When you stop and look at all of these things they revolve around what we either believe or perceive others will think of us, hello people pleaser, or that they are more important than what brings us joy.

Here’s a thing, you are probably not the same person you were when you started the business. There’s a good reason for that. Being a business owner changes you. But it should never stop you from having joy. That’s not why we start a business.

So I encourage you to go back, reread this post, look at the questions I asked earlier, look at your answers and think again about why you started a business and if it still applies.

Here’s the thing, you can start over, and you can also get a job that brings you joy on the side. Life isn’t black and white/binary, you can do multiple things. Know that you can change your mind and try new things. Please know that you are not alone, I am still here.

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