I was always entrepreneurial and creative.
My first experience of being ‘an entrepreneur’ was in the mid 1980’s – I think I was about 8 years old!
A Child Entrepreneur (?)
My sister and I were really into Quilling at the time – the art of curling thin strips of paper to create images (quilling was the fidget spinner of the 1980’s!).
We’d made heaps of pictures and greeting cards that were cluttering our bedroom (we shared a room).
Mum booked a stall for us at the local community centre at a summer craft fair – she was our ‘Angel Investor’.
The deal was, we stocked the stall, managed it, and any money we made selling our crafts we got to keep.
We split it 50/50 between the ‘partners’ .
Here’s me and Chloe at around that time (she’s now Artist Chloe Birnie, also Self-Employed/ An Entrepreneur)
(I really loved that sparkly green jumper!)
Although we were both creative and always making and crafting, my big love was stories. My dream as a child was to see the name ‘Amy Fitzjohn’ on the spine of a book.
I used to write little stories and read them or act them for my younger siblings, Chloe and Lewis.
Chloe carried on with the visual arts, Lewis is a musician, and writing was my thing.
I always wanted to be an author.
My head was forever in a book or a notebook as a child. Then, and I’m not sure why or when it happened, I stopped.
Throughout my 20’s and 30’s I rarely read for pleasure. I painted, I crafted, I baked, I gardened, I decorated, I made jewellery, I made cards – but I hardly ever wrote creatively.
As a teenager, I had a lucrative babysitting racket going on at my secondary school minding the teacher’s kids.
Over the years I had various side hustles – including an art business ‘Tom Cat Designs’ – but it wasn’t until 2015 that I was finally brave enough to be fully full time self-employed.
Finding My Mojo Overseas
However, the catalyst in my journey to self-employment came in 2007/8, when my husband and I relocated to Bulgaria to start a property business.
I started to write again.
I wrote four novels in Bulgaria and it was the fourth one – The Bronze Box – that was the first book I felt could be commercially viable. Then, it was in the 2010s that self-publishing a book became so much more accessible and mainstream – so I gave it a go!
We came back to the UK in 2010, having run out of money, and ended up in Bristol. I started work as a Business Trainer for an Enterprise Agency and we slotted back into urban UK life!
The Push I Needed
As is so often the case, it was a redundancy that helped make my business a reality.
When you’re in a job – especially when you quite like that job – there’s no incentive to take such a risk and give it all up for self-employment.
However, ironically, self-employment is the most secure job I think I’ve ever had!
It was in 2015 when my worlds as a trainer and business advisor and an author eventually collided.
I said to a business colleague recently, in response to a question about how successful I’ve been, “well, I’ve not given myself a redundancy notice, which is more than I can say for pretty much every role I’ve been employed in!”
What To Call Myself?
It’s my fourth year in business this year and I still have different ways of describing myself.
If a stranger asks me, “what do you do?” – my response will vary depending on the social circumstances.
- At a Business Event I’m a ‘Writing Mentor‘ and my business is ‘Learn To Love Your Words‘
- At a family gathering, I’m a Freelance Business Trainer (and they still don’t really get it!)
- In a social setting (i.e. a wedding), I’m an author – people get that, and it’s always a good conversation starter!
- When we visit Bulgaria, with my language limitations, I’m an Author, “автор (Avtor)”
In my head, I think of myself as an ‘Entrepreneur’ – something creative and amorphous, but I’d never say, “oh, I’m an entrepreneur!” (how pretentious does that sound when you say it aloud!).
I talk about having ‘a business’ even though I’m the only person employed in it.
When I introduce myself to startup mentees at Brave Enterprise Agency, I introduce myself as a ‘Freelancer’.
What about you? When are you a Business, an Entrepreneur or a Freelancer?