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Crushing Grapes With Socks On

7 October 2009 10 Comments

Life in a start-up is hard.

When I agreed to stay on in a sales office in 2003 for the woman opening business in a new location I was hesitant at best.  And I wasn’t very good at it.  In fact I quit less than a year later.

When I went back two years later (I wasn’t kidding, I really AM the poster child for Commitment-Phobia) it was to make a difference in an office.  I had spent 18 too many months working for the corporate machine, and I needed to feel the freedom of 60-hour work weeks and thrill of losing sales and happiness of rejection.

Wait, what?  Start-up life isn’t all sunshine and roses coming out your bottom?  You mean you call them vomit moments because they aren’t always all that glamorous?  But everyone writing about it online seems to tell these stories that lead you to believe you can just drop everything and whisk away to a new city or wake up one morning and decide to get out of bed on the LEFT side of the bed instead of the RIGHT and suddenly you are a multi-hundred dollar a month entrepreneur?!

Start Up Life

The truth is start-up life and entrepreneurship is frickin’ hard!  Someone once described it to me as drinking homemade wine, but finding out the crushers forgot to take their socks off.  Sure, with certain dinners and chocolate cakes the taste is palpable if not kind of yummy (seriously, what ISN’T yummy with chocolate cake?)  However there are other dishes you pair the sock-wine with that makes you want to spew Cabernet across the tablecloth.

You might have a great idea or be really good at a particular thing, but you know what?  Skills are cheap, passion is priceless.  Because when you are rolling pennies to buy ramen noodles, watching each hour slowly tick by on the evil little red light of your alarm clock because you can’t sleep trying to work out the PERFECT client transaction in your head, sitting in your office at 7:30 PM while all your friends are out at the monthly happy hour, it doesn’t matter how ept you are at something.

The people who succeed in these businesses, heck these lifestyles, have passion in everything they do.  Passion is the only thing that gets you through it all, because you believe in what you are doing and are willing to sacrifice today for the life you want tomorrow.  People like to think they can do that, but in reality very few will push through.  Some have circumstances that lend themselves to few responsibilities and extreme risks.  Others are planners/providers/obligated and have to move a little slower.

I’m in the latter category.  I long to own my own business, to have the freedom and thrill and happiness of all the good and the bad of it all.  But I can’t just ‘“do it” right now.  I know myself, and it’s taken me awhile to get to the point where I did.  I would seriously question every move I made if I did something that big without planning.  People who depend on me would be left high and dry.  Obligations (like those pesky loans that I hear you still have to pay even if you are trying to open your own business) will hang over my head.

But I work daily to improve my situation.  To learn about start-ups and entrepreneurship.  To hone my skills and craft.  To build connections and networks and relationships.  And above all to remind myself that I want this for myself passionately.  So that when I’m up at 3AM eating ramen noodles wondering if my friends are up I’ll know that I made the right decision.

And that, my friends, is how I’m crushing it.

Photo Credit: Getty Images: John Slater

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10 Responses to “Crushing Grapes With Socks On”

  1. Jen says:

    I am so proud of you for following your passion, no matter how “slowly.” When I said I wanted to be you when I grow up, I wasn’t kidding. I want that drive and that passion back! Okay, at this point, I’d just settle for a direction. 🙂

    And I’m always up at 3AM. So, you definitely won’t be alone.

    • I think you are starting to get drive and passion. And I love it so much. Because as I’ve noted before you are one of the people who sparks the drive and passion in me. Your belief in me makes me believe in myself. I only hope to return the favor. 🙂

  2. Grace Boyle says:

    I feel so inspired by all these #crushit posts! This is really booya of you and I liked to hear your personal job journey, all in one place that is.

    I like the risks that you took. To me, that’s always crushing it. No one wants to take risks and when you do, we’re always surprised with the outcome.

    This is amazing Elisa. Thanks for participating and writing such an amazing post!
    .-= Grace Boyle´s last blog ..Be The Change: Empowering Women Through Microfinance =-.

    • Aw, thanks for organizing the contest. I literally sat staring at the screen for at least half an hour trying to figure out what to write. As soon as I started it just came flying out. It’s nice to get it out and share what’s going on. Especially because, as I mentioned, I see all these other amazing people writing about how fast and intense and crazy amazing their adventures are, and I feel like I’m not measuring up or wussing out.

      As I wrote, I realized that what I’m doing works for me. And I feel good about it. In my own little way that may not seem as cool as other grander moves, I’m totally crushing it. 🙂

  3. I just went to the Crush it website. It’s an exciting time, isn’t it? Good luck on your journey, and keep us informed so that we can tag along, living vicariously through you. 😉

    • Haha, I will most definitely try to let you in on the milestones. I’m not sure I’m the person you want to live vicariously through, though. I’m definitely so much cooler online. Except when I quote country music (which I love!)

  4. Sam Davidson says:

    This is quite possible the best thing I’ve read all week. You clearly articulate the trials/frustrations/excitement/hope of the entrepreneur and the passion-filled person.

    I’m not sure about sacrificing today, only because tomorrow’s never guaranteed. But I do believe in sacrificing sleep, security, and even safety to chase down a dream.

    Nicely done.

    • Umm…wow…I think I am just about floored to hear that coming from you. I love your blog/company/philosophy and look to you for a lot of inspiration in my own ideas for entrepreneurship and passion.

      And you are right, looking only to the future without taking stock of the present can set yourself up for some unrealistic expectations. That’s why they call it “present,” right?

      Thanks so much!

  5. Jenny Blake says:

    Elisa – I love your writing, and I loved this post. It’s so great to hear the “mid way” perspective, and know that every day you are building skills to help you reach your ultimate goal of being an entrepreneur, but that it is OK not jump into it immediately. Thank you so much for sharing, and I echo Monica – I love living vicariously through your job (and dating!) experiences & stories :D. Keep crushin’ it girl!
    .-= Jenny Blake´s last blog ..The Master of Living =-.

    • Huh, I hadn’t really thought of it that way before but I really like it. A “mid way” perspective. Though at this point I think it’s more like a “12% to goal completion” perspective. Definitely have a bit more to go to get to half. 🙂

      And you are another source of inspiration and perspective for my little journey. Since you are my West Coast twin and all it just makes sense! Can’t wait to chat again soon!

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