Authors note: I got a new MacBook Pro on Tuesday and spent a few minutes this morning going through the files that had been transfered from my old MacBook. I found this draft, dated July 28, 2009, 7:04 AM. I thought it’d be fun to share it with you all.
There is a lot to be said for the entrepreneurial spirit. It isn’t something that everyone possesses, and if you do have it in you, it can be very, very hard to ignore.
The ultimate goal is to someday have my own business. What exactly my little shop will offer is always changing, but I do have a couple solid ideas rolling around in my head.
The feedback I’m getting from my entrepreneurial friends is mixed. I’ve heard that there is no better time than now to try to start up my own business, because I’m 24, no spouse, no mortgage, no kids, no responsibilities besides taking care of myself. One friend even told me I need to think of a name ASAP so I can start building the brand. On the flip side, I’ve also heard that in the industry I’m trying to break into (public relations, in case you’re new here), experience is king. Hard to think about starting my own agency when I’m only six weeks into my first internship outside of college, right? Of course. Hard to walk into the bank and ask for money for a start-up if you’re still so green.
So what do I need? I need a solid idea that is something that is in high-demand, or will be by the time I finally get on my feet. And I think I just might have that idea. And it probably wouldn’t hurt to have someone who has years of experience behind them to help guide me (and whoever joins me on this journey) along the way.
This conversation I’ve been having with myself is eerily similar to the one I had when I was trying to sit down and figure out my major. I started out pre-med with full intentions of becoming a head/neck surgeon (an otolaryngologist if you’re in the biz) until I took chemistry and realized that wasn’t happening. My earth was shattered when I realized that pre-med wasn’t going to happen for me. So I sat myself down and had a heart-to-heart with my brain and made a list of everything that I’m really awesome at and everything I really suck at. (Funny side note, I now work a floor below Northwestern Hospital’s Otolaryngology department.)
Inevitably, I think the same list will need to be recreated. It’s been five years since the last draft went down on paper and I would be willing to bet that a lot of that list has changed.
If you have your own business, where do you even begin with this whole process? Where do you stand on the experience vs. fresh new face idea? Should you wait to have some experience before you go diving in or should you seek out a mentor to guide you along the way?
One, my apologies for not being more vocal the past couple weeks, I’m going to do my damndest to keep posting on a semi-regular basis, and ideally, that will include more than one post per week.
That being said, can we talk about how amazing it feels when you take a huge risk and it totally works out?
I had a lot of butterflies when I first considered the opportunity to work with Chicagoland Skydiving Center on their social media, marketing, events, funjumper happiness (which is like community management online and offline in our little world here in Rochelle, IL). In fact, I called my parents and told them about the option to move back to Chicago-area, do what I’m doing now, and they, for the first time, told me I couldn’t.
“You just moved to Austin, you’re breaking a committment you made to your agency there.”
“You haven’t been out of school for that long, how are you going to grow if you ARE the marketing department?”
“What about benefits? You need health insurance, you need a paycheck. How is this going to work?”
I cried to my boyfriend and one of my mentors that day. For the first time in my entire life, my parents weren’t like “FUCK YEAH! GO FOR IT!” like they have been for every single major milestone in my life.
I wasn’t going to be a cheerleader in college, but rowing sounded fun. “Go for it!”
I wasn’t going to find an agency PR job in Tampa, so when the opportunity came to move to Chicago for an internship, they were all “Hell yeah, you can do it!”
When skydiving took over my life, changed my world and I wanted to move to Austin, they were skeptical at first, saying that I was leaving a perfectly awesome job for a potentially more awesome job in another state, but then were all “HELL YES SYDNEY, YOU TACKLE THAT MOUNTAIN AND CRUSH IT!!”
So you can imagine my dismay when my parents didn’t support me entertaining the thought of moving back here, working with CSC full-time and what that would entail.
Then they came to the dropzone in January, saw what this world is all about, and said I’d be stupid not to.
I got my own health insurance, I have a monthly retainer that is equal to what I was making before I left Chicago, and I’m still learning and growing EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Largely because I’m so new to the industry, but also because I’m working with a client that is down to try anything and everything.
My biggest take away from SXSW this year (besides a cold and a bunch of new friends/contacts) was how awesome GroupMe was. So we brought it to CSC. We have a group for the management team, we tested that out and everyone loved it, and then we passed along the info to the gals in manifest, the AFF instructors, the coaches, the full-time tandem instructors and the part-time instructors.
I’ve learned in the past month or so that you can now migrate a profile page to a business Page on Facebook. When I first started consulting with CSC in September, we couldn’t do that. So this winter we built a new page, from scratch, and lost nearly 5,000 fans in the process. But we got over it. Then Places came along. So we merged our old location with our Page, and when we moved, the map, and consequently the Deals page, was stuck at our old location, rendering our deal useless because people weren’t checking into the right venue. Facebook has been a never-ending battle, but thanks to the likes of former colleagues like Brendan, I’m getting my foot in the right direction to get everything merged and pretty and sparkly.
And today, for the first time this season, the weather forecast wasn’t something scary enough to keep me on the ground. Here is my schedule on a day when we’re weathered out:
- Wake up
- Eat breakfast
- Let the dog out
- Head to dropzone
- Do work (mostly related to emails, responding to questions on Facebook, Twitter, fighting off the coupon-related companies that want to offer tandem skydives for next to nothing)
- Head home
- Make dinner
- Hang out with the boy
- Go to bed
Here’s my schedule on a jumpable day, like today:
- Wake up
- Eat breakfast
- Let the dog out
- Head to the dropzone
- Do work (see above)
- Socialize with jumpers
- Jump, land, pack my parachute
- Check emails, Facebook, Twitter, voicemail
- Socialize with jumpers
- Jump, land, pack my parachute (can be repeated as necessary)
- Do work – write a blog post, check Google Reader for mentions of CSC
- Socialize, grab dinner
- Head home, go to bed
Awesome? I think so. Exactly what I signed up for? All that and then some. Beyond stoked for this season. Ready to work my ass off, hustle, save some serious cash, and retire to Costa Rica and Florida for the off-season. Maybe take some additional clients, maybe not.
What’s new in your worlds? Sorry I haven’t been around much!
I have a confession to make. I haven’t been very Unfiltered as of late.
I alluded to the company I’m starting, 3Ring Media last Friday. I want to talk about that and why I hadn’t really said anything about it as of yet.
Truth is, I was (am) terrified. So far, my career has been a joyride on a unicorn over a rainbow. I know how hard I’ve worked for what that I’ve accomplished so far, but a lot of it looks like it’s been a piece of cake. And sometimes, it feels like it.
I had the opportunity to talk to one of the gals I graduated from USF with yesterday, and it really opened my eyes. She called me out, saying that I hadn’t been very transparent lately. She has been following my blog, reading all about everything that was going on, and it didn’t all make sense to her until I sent her a novel of an email, catching her up on where I am today.
I was (am) terrified that I’m going to fail. That me being so excited about my future and what it holds will be all for nothing and the two or three people that think I’m batshit crazy for leaving my job in Austin (or at least the ones that told me that to my face, in not so many words) will actually have a leg to stand on and say “I told you so.”
It was so easy (in retrospect) to leave Chicago for a sparkly new world in Austin. But when that world was the polar opposite of what I thought I was signing up for, I got scared.
Not scared like I had screwed up royally, but scared that nobody would understand my next steps. Worse, that I would fall flat on my face.
The opportunity with Chicagoland Skydiving Center is no doubt an amazing one, but I created that opportunity. I said I wanted to handle their marketing and events and social media and god knows what else. Now I do. But why is that scary?
I framed up the move back to Chicago as a total lifestyle change. I framed it up as an opportunity I’d be stupid to turn down. And while both of those are true, in reality, I’m taking a huge risk. I quit a stable 9-5 job that was paying me well. I did this to live a lifestyle that I want. I want to work for me. I want to work on my own terms, make my own rules, and help out people and companies that matter to me.
That’s the thing with the way my life goes, I’ve realized. I have all of these “some day” plans that end up happening really fucking fast. Take SXSW 2009 for example. I said to myself, after a few days of attending panels, “I want to speak at this conference some day.”
That “some day” happened on March 13, 2010. One year later.
When I did my first tandem skydive in 2005 I said to myself “I want to be an instructor some day” and then forgot about it. When I started skydiving again last summer, and after I met the boy and saw how happy he is and what an amazing life he is LIVING, not just doing, but really living, I said “I want to quit my job and skydive some day.” My “some day” on that one was several years out, at least, because I have a lot of expenses. I have student loans, a car payment that I got royally fucked on interest for (I’m paying a bajillion dollars for a Civic Hybrid), and then all of the normal expenses like a cell phone, I need to feed myself, etc.
And then my “some day” plan for skydiving became a reality on January 2nd when I committed to finding a way to make it work. After spending almost a week at Skydive City in Zephyrhills, I remembered how much I love being on the drop zone and how much that wasn’t happening in Austin. So I figured out how much I’d need to make per month to survive, wrote up a job description for what I wanted my role to be at CSC, threw out a number for a monthly retainer and sent it to the owner for his review. And here I am, sitting in the living room writing this post and working.
And I could barely call this work because it’s actually 110% amazing and doesn’t even feel like work because it’s so much FUN and the boy told me that I’ll never have to work another day in my life if I keep doing what I love.
So I’m using the term “work” VERY loosely here.
So while it’s kinda scary and all that, the good news is CSC is, in essence, my first client. While I don’t anticipate having time to take on additional clients at this time, I can. I am operating as Sydney Owen, director of digital and social media at Chicagoland Skydiving Center, as well as “founder” or “CEO, bitch” of 3Ring Media. And while the latter doesn’t mean much yet, I wish I could digitally convey the excitement that washed over me once my LLC package came in the mail.
This is mine. Something that I own. Something that will become a part of me, my story, and my future.
So sorry if the last couple months have been cryptic or confusing. Here’s the real deal. I’m going to document every single second of this journey, so long as you all still find it helpful slash entertaining slash fun to read.
Because if I can do it, you sure as shit can, too.