Remember the blog project I did last year with three other women? Well, Froggie decided to resurrect it with me and we each got to invite another friend to join us. She invited a mutual friend (someone I met through her) and I invited a friend whose blog I really enjoy reading. So now it's Froggie, Mom of Many, Moma Rock and Merrylandgirl. Hope you enjoy the topics that we'll be exploring!
This week, Mom of Many picked the topic: Talk about a failure that you have experienced and how that has impacted your life.
Before reading ahead, first see what everyone else had to say on this topic:
Mom of Many
Earlier this year, our power failed during a storm and we lost a lot of food. It taught me to get a generator, which we have yet to do. The end.
Just kidding! You didn't think I was going to get off that easily...
After a contract job of mine had ended back in late 2006, I decided to go into business for myself. I was a mom of a toddler at the time and thought it would allow me to spend more quality time with him and also be my own boss for once, after dealing with some pretty lousy bosses in the past.
I started a virtual assistant business where I would hire assistants and match them with companies looking for virtual work. I thought it would be a useful commodity and that companies would be chomping at the bit. My husband even helped me create a website and supported me in every way possible. However, he also turned into my boss in a way. He was the one calling the shots and coming up with all the ideas. I was still doing a lot of work, but I wouldn't have had as much to go on without him. Was I grateful for his help? YES! Although I felt like this was all his brainchild and I was the one doing the frustrating tasks that were involved.
To start, I had to make lists of companies that might want a virtual assistant. I looked for small businesses instead of large corporations that probably had lots of on-site assistants. I then had to call these companies and offer my services. I already had a lot of interested (and qualified) assistants, but no one with whom to pair them. Anyway, I didn’t have much luck from calling the companies. No one was interested in virtual help!
I also tried networking by putting the name of my company out there whenever and wherever possible. The networking sites I found were full of people with pyramid schemes though. My business was in no way, shape or form a pyramid scheme. I thought that virtual assistants could branch out anywhere, so I tried to reach a huge market. I even managed to get my business in the newspaper, but it didn’t bring in any interest either.
Overall, it turned out that I was putting in more money than I was getting back (which was nothing anyway). When we moved to New Jersey, my husband closed down the business and I went back to job searching. That was a long and arduous process, since I didn’t have any “real” work to my name from December 2006 through April 2007. That span of time between my contract job and the time I moved did not help me find much employment. Then I got a semi-virtual assistant job. When I did the medical billing, I could work from home and since it was local, I only had to come by a couple of times a week to drop off and pick up papers. There was a lot of flexibility and I was still able to enjoy being a mom too. It was what I had wanted when I started the virtual staffing business, but it came in a different form. And I actually was getting paid for it this time!
I learned from the experience that I am NOT entrepreneurial! I don’t do well with selling or cold calling. I also learned that I have to do work of my choosing, not what other people would want me to do. I realized that again when my husband was trying to get me to do database management in order to find a job. While medical billing wasn’t all that glamorous, I enjoyed working for my bosses and the flexibility and confidence that the job offered me.
I’m now working where I want to be. This was not a job that anyone else helped me get or told me I should be doing. (In the past, I had gotten jobs through family connections but they weren’t really right for me…especially the contracting one!) It’s not a bad job at all, but I know my husband wasn’t fond of me being locked into an assistant role when I was out there looking. However, the type of organization and the fact that it goes along with our values was (and still is) helpful and he was supportive of me working here as a result.
Back to the entrepreneurial thing though; I love reading books about women who start their own business because I can live vicariously through them. While my book blog is not a business, I still feel like I take on a managerial role. However, I’m not worried about making money from this blog, which makes it less stressful and also easier to take risks when I feel they are needed.
Honestly, I am glad I had the chance to fail, as embarrassing as it felt at the time. It allowed me to figure out what I wanted for myself in terms of a job and showed me that failure isn’t always that scary. It just happens and people find a way to pick up and move on.