Once, while swimming in the ocean, I could feel the current pulling my body towards the swell as a wave was building. At the right moment, the wave was going to break and continue toward the shoreline. Would we catch it or let it pass us by?
This made me think about how we have lived our lives. We were enjoying where we are when, without notice, we would feel a pulling to go in a different direction.
Eighteen years ago my husband and I had a dream. To have a thriving business at home. I had already left my career in the corporate world but now we wanted to figure out how we could we get dad home too.
He was a director at an engineering firm in the big city. Life was going well; he was even voted “Young Engineer of the Year” by his peers. Problem was we didn’t want the 8-5 life for our family. We wanted dad around more. Our five children were hitting the teen years and we wanted to have as much time with them as possible during these important years.
That’s when we made a decision to do something that no one around us was doing. To start our own engineering firm from our home. This was during a time when working from home wasn’t acceptable, practical, or even doable for an engineer.
That didn’t stop us, for our lives were marked by doing the impossible.
We could feel the pull just like the time I was in the ocean. We were determined to make something work even though everyone was telling us it could not be done.
People all became experts at why this new endeavor was not achievable. Some of the reasons we were given were that we had to have an office to conduct business ,we had to have a staff in order to tend to the details, and we would not get clients without a physical location. But what surprised us the most was the number of people telling us we would drive each other crazy if we both worked from home. Out of all the comments made we actually thought about this one the most. What if it we didn’t work well together? What could we do to avoid this from happening? I’ll share more about how we addressed these fears in another post.
How did we overcome these valid concerns? Let’s take them one by one.
We needed an office to conduct business. That was true. After all we had a little 4 bedroom house that was being occupied by 2 adults and 5 kids. Not much room for an office there. Or at least what the corporate world would describe as an acceptable office. We knew it didn’t need to be fancy. What we needed was a quiet place, phone lines, computer, large desk (engineers work on drawings) and a good desk chair. We took care of this by moving the boys into one room. The boys thought it would be one fun party. Looking back we made a wise decision as the boys became closer as a result of this move.
Next, what would we do about staffing? Who would answer those phones, process invoices, and all the other tasks that needed to be taken care of? Well, we did a couple of things. We did all that we could do ourselves, then we contracted out everything else. We practiced what Chris Ducker describes as, Virtual Freedom, before it had a name. We were pleasantly surprised by how many professionals were looking for freelance work. Problem solved!
Lastly, how would we get new clients without an office? This is where having a good understanding of how your line of work operates is important. Once contact was made with a potential client we would offer a couple of options. Come to their office, meet them for lunch near their office or set up a round of golf. Yes, it is true business can actually be conducted outside of the office. Now that wasn’t too difficult.
When the wave broke for us we were ready. It’s been eighteen years now and we are still riding this wave. When you feel the pull to move in a direction don’t immediately resist. Identify where the pull is coming from; if it will lead you toward your goals and what obstacles you would have to overcome in order to catch the right wave.
Our goal was to build a strong family and in so doing we built a successful business in a field that others had only dreamed about doing. We have found most successful people aren’t afraid of doing impossible things.
Impossible dreams are only impossible if you never try. What’s your dream?