(By Thursday Bram)
“Everyone has to choose her own path, no matter what advice comes her way. My sister wound up not taking my exact advice. She landed a job that allows her to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors while bringing in a steady paycheck. By melding advice from trusted sources and following her gut instinct, she made a better call than if she’d only listened to one person. That sort of synthesis is one of the best skills I could wish for a new entrepreneur — whether she’s part of my family or not.“
I’m the oldest of three sisters by quite a few years. We’ve all chosen creative work over stable careers. I like to joke that all three of us need to become rich and famous, if only to ensure that we get health insurance. Under all the layers of my business, I’m a writer. My middle sister just graduated with a degree in graphic design. The baby of the family is still in college, but is already pursuing filmmaking.
With my middle sister’s recent graduation, we’ve been talking about how we are each going to move forward. I’m clearly a lost cause as far a landing a day job goes. But my sisters have both hung their signs as freelancers and are focused on building up a sustainable business too.
Should I Encourage Their Entrepreneurial Ambitions?
I’m like every other overly protective big sister: I want both of them to succeed, and I don’t want them to have to deal with striking out on their own. I may joke about the difficulty of getting health insurance as an entrepreneur, but the reality of the situation isn’t so funny. Both of my sisters are capable of landing a job with benefits, so what kind of justification do I have for recommending they do anything else?
Making this sort of call is much easier when you’ve agreed to mentor someone who has already jumped head-first into the process of starting a business. When you’re dealing with someone you’ve known your entire life, it’s more difficult. You may think you are being a good influence, but you could be leading them astray.
I spend a lot of time thinking about whether I’m doing my sisters a disservice by encouraging them to become entrepreneurs. Overall, I firmly believe that there are incredible business opportunities available today. But I’m also well aware of how hard starting a business is. Especially in light of their chosen fields, I don’t see any alternatives to freelancing — neither designers nor videographers are particularly known for stable work opportunities. But what kind of big sister would I be if I didn’t invest some serious thought in what advice I give them?
Would I Give the Same Advice to Brothers?
In an ideal world, gender wouldn’t affect my advice. In reality, however, I know that gender has an impact on the career choices available us. While earning her graphic design degree, my middle sister paid her way by waiting tables. Women make up the greater part of the service industry, including low-paying waitress jobs.
The standard advice for new freelancers is to work while keeping a day job, at least at first. But what if that day job requires you to work full time (or more) to earn enough to live on and leaves you too physically tired to actually do your freelance work? There are other jobs my sister can pursue, but the type of job that allows her to build her own business at the same time is tough to find. Why risk a gig she’s already sure of? I might have suggested a brother find odd jobs — maybe even take on some day labor work if his freelancing efforts fell short. But I wouldn’t tell my sister that.
Upon graduation, my sister was offered a promotion to manage the restaurant where she waits tables. My first inclination was to tell her to take the promotion while she builds up her business, but that’s not necessarily the best, or even the only advice I could give her. She’s going to do well running her business, just as she impressed her employer enough to get promoted while keeping her grades up. Just the same, I think a lot about how I encourage her entrepreneurial ambitions (and those of my youngest sister) and how to judge the quality of the advice I give them.
Everyone has to choose her own path, no matter what advice comes her way. My sister wound up not taking my exact advice. She landed a job that allows her to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors while bringing in a steady paycheck. By melding advice from trusted sources and following her gut instinct, she made a better call than if she’d only listened to one person. That sort of synthesis is one of the best skills I could wish for a new entrepreneur — whether she’s part of my family or not.
(Source: YEC Women)
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