Back when I was in corporate, many lunch table talks would veer to having your own ‘startup’. Everyone wanted to be their own boss.
I come from the tech world. So the dreams were often on the lines of creating TheNextBigThing. The Next Google or Facebook or Twitter. Heck, back when we were courting, the Ex and I talked all business and entrepreneurship – ALL the time. It was our dream.
Funny thing is, of all us who ‘dreamt’ about this stuff way back when – I’m the only one actually living that dream.
I haven’t created the typical tech startup.
Instead, I’ve created a sort of business incubator. For women.
And I have created everything that I really wanted about being my own boss.
I have complete control over my time – I can choose when to work, when to work from the playground, and when not to work at all.
I can choose to scale up and scale down my business. During holiday season I can scale down – so that I can get more time with my son. During school season, or whenever else I want, I can ramp up to generate extra cashflows, without having to gingerly wait for an annual appraisal cycle.
I can live a location independent lifestyle – if I so chose to. But I choose to stay here in the suburbs of Pune so that we have sense of stability as we adapt to the new dynamics of a single parent family.
And more than all of that, I can choose to be ME. Without the masks and restrictions corporate life imposes.
In working for myself, outside of the typical tech startup, I’ve created the freedom I so craved for years.
It’s hard to describe the fulfillment I feel, the freedom.
It’s a bit like being forced to live in The Truman Show all your life and somehow escaping to the real world.
Where you don’t have to conform to arbitrary restrictions and policies.
Where you’re free to explore and do and learn as you please.
Where you’re free to be yourself. To experience, do, be, all that you want to.
The only limitations, the only restrictions, are those that You put on yourself.
And yet scary.
Scary because all the responsibility rests on your shoulders. You’re in charge of every-single-decision. Every freaking one. Even if you delegate stuff. Heck, you’re the boss.
It’s scary because you’re letting go of this Identity that you’ve had all your adult life.
It’s scary because you don’t know which path to take, what to choose, what to do. Simply because there are so many options.
It’s scary because all of sudden, there are no rules (or you don’t know them). So you have to start from ground zero.
It’s scary because you don’t know. You don’t even know what you don’t know.
And for women it is compounded. Because you don’t know anyone else around you who’s done this before.
Because everyone around you tells you it’s impossible. To stop dreaming.
Beause responsibilities like family and children sap away most of your ‘spare’ energy, time and thoughts.
Because society doesn’t encourage women to pursue their passion, to choose for themselves.
It takes courage.
Incredible courage, to go against the norm.
To leave a secure, cushy job.
To pursue what you want.
And along with the courage, it takes incredible focus and discipline. [Yes, I know, ‘focus and discipline’ don’t sound as sexy as courage! But it does take incredible focus and discipline to stay the course, to weed out a thousand distractions, and to keep going in the right direction.]
Very few really have what it takes being their own boss.