Do you really need to be brave to start up a freelance or independent business? Juliet Simmons gives us this very personal take on what it means to be brave.
The dictionary definition of bravery is someone who is ready to face and endure danger or pain, someone who shows courage. Two years ago when I started my business I kept being told that I was brave. At that time I always replied that I didn’t feel it, I felt excited, nervous and completely certain that this was what the path I should be taking but I didn’t feel brave.
Two years later I wonder if actually those people who told me I was brave were right. To work for yourself you have to be constantly courageous, strong and ready to expect the unexpected. But is that bravery? I don’t know, perhaps it is. I don’t go to work and fight dragons every day but I have fought some demons along the way, and I am guessing that I’m not the only one.
However sure we are that we want to be the boss there is no doubt that there are days when it’s hard. Those days when we feel stuck, when we wonder where the next project is going to come from and who is going to make things happen. Those are the days when we also realise that we are the only ones that can make things happen – and then find ourselves asking if we really can. I am pretty sure that most, if not all of us have found ourselves in that situation more than once. I find it hard to imagine that there’s a person out there who works for themselves who hasn’t had a moment where they’ve considered going back to the 9 to 5. And then a new project has come in or the feeling of being stuck passes or we have a conversation with a kindred spirit and realise that this sometimes winding path is the right one for us to be on.
Perhaps we are not really brave when take our first steps, rather true bravery kicks in when we carry on and keep going. Perhaps we’re really brave when we admit, to ourselves and to others in the start-up community that this is hard sometimes, that not every day is filled with coffee and art exhibitions but some are filled with worries about where the next job will come from, how we’ll pay the bills or if we’ll be able to keep on having those really great ideas. Of course we will and we do because, of course, we’re all brave and brilliant, but we have to be brave enough to admit that the road is not always straightforward and that it’s sometimes complicated and difficult and that we’re not quite sure where we’re going to end up.
As Merida, in Disney’s film Brave says: “There are those who say that fate is something beyond our command. That our destinies are not our own. But I know better. Our fate lives within us. You only have to be brave enough to see it.”
Juliet Simmons is the Founder of Piece of Cake, a marketing consultancy
You can find her at @julietsimmons