Lessons in Entrepreneurship


Life Face First: Negotiating One Calamity at a Time

 In the course of my life, I’ve worked many different jobs. I’ve been a barista, I’ve sold wedding gowns and I’ve been a travel agent.

After high school, I spent a year and a half working as an actress for a repertory theatre company.

I toured the United States in a van, met a lot of interesting people and learned to dislike many of the fellow actors that I traveled with, lived with, ate with, worked with… We saw a lot of each other during our time on the road. It was remarkably easy to annoy one another.

Every job had its challenges, but no job I worked asked more of me than being an entrepreneur.

For fourteen years, I worked as a professional pet sitter and for seven of those years I owned my own company. It came with all the regular challenges of owning a business such as hiring and firing staff, managing onerous mountain ranges of paperwork and keeping customers satisfied.

It also came with challenges unique to caring for animals. I was bitten by dogs, peed on, pooped on and once got stuck under a client’s bed when I crawled under it to give their shy cat her pill.

I loved being a pet sitter and a business owner. I’m infinitely glad I did it. It gave me a skill set that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Owning your own business challenges you in ways greater than you might imagine.

Entrepreneurship forces you to confront shortcomings in your own character. After all, it’s your money on the line if things go south.

When you’d rather be lazy and stay in bed, entrepreneurship reminds you that if you want a place to keep your bed, you have to get up, go to work and pay your mortgage.

And when things go really wrong and you look around for someone else to take the blame, you realize there is no one else, and you learn to stand in the face of challenges.

Everyone should own a business at least once in their lives. It makes you a better customer because you’ve been on the other side of the counter, and it makes you a better employee after entrepreneurship, because you know how crummy being the boss can be.

Though I loved working for myself and caring for animals, I don’t miss it. I don’t miss seven day a week workweeks, working major holidays and I really don’t miss firing underperforming staff. But I’m so glad I did it because I grew as a person.

The check for the sale of my business wasn’t bad either.

Nora Blithe

Nora Blithe is the author of the syndicated humor column “Life Face First.” Read her blog online at NoraBlithe.com.