In 2007 I aspired to be a professional blogger. I wanted to be someone who could stand up for the opinions and share experiences for the recruiter and HR practitioner. I was tired of men over 40 having the stage when the industry was and is predominantly women. I dreamed of the acceptance I’d receive. I thought about how wonderful it would be speaking on a major conference stage and the credibility I’d have. So I published a book and lost my job as an HR Director because of that same blog that I thought would be the path to my dreams.
I became self-employed. I hustled. I worked my ass off. I would write 15-20 blogs a week. Spoke for free more than I care to admit. I worked 80+ hours a week tweeting, building web sites, emailing, scheduling calls and building relationships to follow my dream. I believed that HR needed more female voices who were and are practitioners. I believed that I was the person to help provide a needed point of view to those in this space.
Why HR Needs Soloprenuers
Whether you love soloprenuers or despise us, we’re needed in this industry. Practitioners and vendors need small business and independents to drive discussion and conversation. They need these soloprenuers to stir up conversation and sling a little mud. Because any conversation in good conversation. At least something even if it’s negative, nasty or just a bunch of fluff is being said and that emotion that drives action is happening.
I get that soloprenuers have weird jobs especially those like Laurie Ruettimann, Meghan M. Biro and others who have hustled to carve our own path. Some of us settled into more traditional roles as analysts and consultants like Steve Boese, Trish McFarlane, and speakers like Jennifer McClure. These are all people I admire and people I also grew up with as part of a dramatic shift in business in a time of technology, social media and transparency.
The Secret Lives of Soloprenuers
Being an HR and recruiting soloprenuer is hard work. In my business as a soloprenuer it’s a cross between a politician, journalist, speaker and scientist. Navigating the road, expectations and managing your workload is beyond challenging. Being an soloprenuer is the hardest job I’ve ever hard. It’s also the most enjoyable one because of the variety of things I do, the ability to make mistakes and most importantly the people I meet and connect with.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Business owners experience fear. They experience doubt. They experience depression, and they are probably harder on themselves than you are on them. They’ve studied HR and recruiting and love the industry. It’s also important to remember we as business owners only profit when we get paid.
Being a soloprenuer is tough. It is often a very solitary life. I work from home most days spending my time writing, reading and working. Yes, there is a casual dress code. Maybe I don’t shower or I record a podcast in my pajamas. No one pops into my office just to catch up. Social media is my workplace water cooler of sorts. I travel a lot especially to conferences and events. However, since I’m “influential” I feel this sense of pressure to always be my brand and on my game even if I am having a doubts or bad days.
While I can’t speak for other soloprenuers or independents out there, I can say that I experience a great deal of social anxiety as I work to understand my place in this industry because it’s changing. My business like most is a moving target. The difference is that it’s me as an individual trying to get ahead of the train instead of the entire company.
Starting my own blog and launching into this space by accident, I was very naive. I’ve been sexually harassed, stalked and threatened since starting this blog. People spend ridiculous amounts of time making inferences from a Facebook post or even a post like this. That Jessica girl is probably loosing her shit. Why the hell would she write a blog post like this?
What is the Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship?
The secret is that most influencers or even solopreneurs won’t discuss the roadblocks, challenges and obstacles they face out of shame, fear or just the belief that they no one would understand but mostly because they want to save face. The psychological price of entrepreneurship is real and yet it is never discussed just swept under the rug. No one wants to work with a hot mess who keeps airing their dirty laundry, their personal and professional challenges or struggles which is why we often suffer in silence and often alone. Except that it’s human to feel emotion and it’s healthy to talk about those same emotions and feelings.
The psychological price of entrepreneurship is real. Some days I want to run and hide because I’m overworked, anxiety ridden and just having a bad day. I no longer participate in the industry circle jerk, grapevine or toxic gossip of other businesses and individuals because I wouldn’t want them to do the same thing to me. That is not my way.
I was reminded last week over a breakfast meeting the power of my story. My friend had no idea my journey to being a solopreneur and our conversation reminded me how closely tied my personal brand is to what makes me and my business unique. During our breakfast, I was appreciative of the candid conversation and support we shared. It was a wonderful way to start my day.
Support Your Industry Soloprenuers
About three years into my solo business journey, I came to the realization that I needed a support system of other consultants, entrepreneurs or business pros who I trusted to see me through the good times as well as the bad. They could provide me a ear in my moment of weakness or crisis and being what I call the sanity check for my business.
Influencers whether self-employed or working in a more traditional workplace they are masters of their personal brand both in person and online. Support those influencers and most importantly soloprenuers you enjoy their point of view, like sharing a drink with at a conference or admire the risk they’re taking making their own path. While they’re enjoying their work and seem like confident successful business men and women, they also need our support to continue breaking barriers, driving conversations and questioning the HR and recruitment industry.
Influencers make it interesting. They push boundaries. They ask tough questions and they bring a different perspective whether it’s right or wrong isn’t important. They make mistakes. They write and sometimes say stupid shit. They have the balls to do and see things different and we should respect that. It’s a rare gift that we need to remember. Appreciate those influencers. Hug them even if you’re their haters. Because without them, the world would be pretty damn boring especially in HR and recruiting.