By Jeannette Encinias.
I never wanted to be an entrepreneur. The word itself seemed too large for someone who saw herself as a poet, a storyteller and an artist. I grew up thinking that entrepreneurs were these crazed inventors, drinking shots of espresso, never sleeping, hustling their hearts away, with no personal life to speak of. It looked exhausting and fraught with failure and pain. No way to live.
Then, a couple of years ago, I was up far too late into the night when I came upon a tiny corner of the internet. There, I saw a woman who was a writer, an artist, and an entrepreneur. My eyes got wide. She wasn’t working for someone else; she was a one-woman show and she was making awesome and useful things. This made sense to me. She made sense to me. That woman led me to a handful of other women and the whole entire world opened up. I got a feeling in my body that said: this is what you need to do. I began to get really excited about the opportunity to create beautiful and helpful services, pursue my own clients, build my own solutions and become a lady entrepreneur.
First the inspiration hit and then the fear. I immediately realised that I had a lot to learn. I was not raised to think like an entrepreneur and I certainly was not taught anything about this in college. I promptly got completely overwhelmed with all the information and advice that is available, so I paused. I took a long walk and then I decided to choose my teachers very carefully. Rather than read every article and every book on how to build a business, I chose people that I admired and trusted. I delved deep into their advice and shut out all other advice. Instead of enrolling in a graduate program, I created my own curriculum, rounded out with books from writers I loved, online programs from entrepreneurs I respected and workshops with rock solid mentors. All of these choices has eased my unique entrepreneurial path and given me a firm foundation to grow from.
What I didn’t expect about becoming an entrepreneur is that it has catapulted me onto a spiritual journey.
I have had to confront a whole army of fears and insecurities and work hard to overcome them or at least not let them stop me. It is a daily endeavour. I have had to ask myself a million questions and answer them honestly because cutting corners will never work when you are working for yourself. I am constantly being asked to show up, to step up, to fight through resistance and fear. I cannot afford to just blindly walk to my desk and hammer out a bunch of tasks. I have to bring my whole mind and soul to the work. No one is going to tell me what decisions to make, so I have to be quiet enough and sharp enough to trust my own intuition. This means I have to feed my body healthy food, exercise regularly, get good sleep, meditate, refuse drama and continue to learn, because when I don’t do these things I risk making decisions that are not the best for my business or for myself.
I’ve also had to make peace with certain words like marketing and branding. At first glance, this may not seem like a spiritual endeavour, but these words can be heavy and personal. My train of thought went something like this: if I market and brand myself and no one likes it then that means that no one likes what I do, what I offer, who I am, what I stand for, basically, me. No one likes me. These thoughts were enough to make me want to run away to a small village in the middle of nowhere with just my favourite books and music and give up on this whole lady entrepreneur thing.
In addition to that, I am an introvert and so in the beginning, talking to people about who I am and what I do sort of felt like a constant hot flash: very uncomfortable and kind of embarrassing. Again, I had to rearrange my thinking. I had to breathe. I had to be courageous. I had to step far outside of my comfort zone. I had to take small and deliberate steps every single day. I had to be patient with the fact that I was changing and that change takes time. The slow and important walk from not understanding essential business terms, like branding and marketing, to embracing and loving them was a lesson in the power of perspective. It took a while for me to understand that these words are all about connection and connection is totally something I can get into. It’s one of the core reasons I wanted to become an entrepreneur in the first place.
I am grateful that entrepreneurship has given me the opportunity to stare many of my deepest fears straight down and transform them. This is still going on and will go on for as long as I am in business. It has become an unexpected perk of doing my own thing. Not only does being an entrepreneur allow me to be creative and keep me on my wits, it also demands that I break through my own limiting beliefs. Limiting beliefs can’t hang out in the life of an entrepreneur for long. More often than not, I have been called to do the inner work so that my outer work can shine. When you build your livelihood on your unique talents and skills and when it all rests on your brave shoulders, your spirit is going to get involved. This is a beautiful thing, quite possibly the best thing about being an entrepreneur.
Jeannette Encinias is a writer who helps professionals write books with clear and compelling messages and helps families document their life stories to leave as a legacy for future generations. She believes in the resiliency of the human spirit, in the transformative power of love, and that music is essential nourishment. When she is not making books, you can find her carving poetry into wood, arranging flowers, eating an avocado, reading Mary Oliver, listening to Leonard Cohen, writing a love letter, or trudging up a hill in the sunlight.