Entrepreneur Interview with Michelle Hill

Transitioning from Employee to Entrepreneur

Here's an interview with an aspiring entrepreneur who is starting a copywriting business. She's still keeping her day job, but you can tell she's got what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.

Owning a business is the American dream.

We took some time to talk with Michelle Hill, who is setting down the path to entrepreneurship.

Based in Huntington Beach, California, she's committed to making a go of becoming an entrepreneur. We asked her a few questions to see how it's going so far.

Michelle, congrats on your decision to start a business of your own. Have you left your job or are you working on your startup concept while you keep your day job?

Actually, I'm still working full-time for a totally toxic workplace and am aggressively attempting to escape the corporate cube experience forever.

Good for you! I'm curious. Why have you decided to become an entrepreneur instead of simply looking for another job? Is this something you have been thinking about for a while or did you just recently decide that you wanted to own your own business?

I believe the old adage that you need to "get a job" after college is no longer the safe way for a career. Going forward, entrepreneurism is the best and safest way to secure an income and have lasting satisfaction during your "working" life. Actually, when you're an entrepreneur, there is no end to your "working" life because your passions cross your skills and creates a vocational life that never retires.

That's a great way to look at it. There certainly is a lot to be said for controlling your own destiny. So, will you be buying a business or starting a business from scratch? Why are you doing one instead of the other? Which do you think is the best approach?

Starting a business from scratch...from an idea, that is, where all businesses come from. I have no capital to purchase a business. I thrive on developing an idea into a full-fledged business. I think, if you have the knowledge, that starting from scratch is the best way because you can make it what you want it to look like. You set the processes and the "rules" of how it should be run and what ethical principles should be in place.

It's refreshing to hear you talk about ethics, given all the high-profile ethical lapses we are seeing these days. So, what type of business are you looking at owning? Why do you think it's the right business for you?

Proofreading, copyediting, and copywriting. It's something I'm naturally gifted in and it gives me great pleasure to improve the image of others and how the world sees their written word.

Are you going it alone on this process or are you consulting with others for advice? If you are talking to others, who have you met with? What good advice have you heard?

I've developed the initial concept alone but as I gain speed, I definitely consult with others who I know will bring creativity and knowledge from their own sphere of experience. As an entrepreneur, you have the power to gather information from others and do with it what you want.

Owning a business is very different from working as an employee. What are some of things you think will be different? Are there any concerns or issues that you think folks in a similar situation should be thinking about.

On the employee side, I look forward to not punching a timeclock and not being subject to the crazy whims and "corporate rules" of a company's leadership. I won't miss having someone else tell you the exact hours you can work and how much time you are allowed to be away from work, dealing with toxic co-workers, and finally, those dreaded yearly reviews where someone else is telling you how you're doing.

On the entrepreneurial side, I think you have to have a fair amount of self-discipline and a certain level of organization if you want your venture to run efficiently. You can plan your work for those hours you are at your optimum, and not during your "dip" times of the day.

If you need the socialization, you can choose whom you want to spend your time with; go to a networking meeting or form your own Mastermind Group, full of positive, encouraging people who will support your dreams and you theirs.

That's a smart approach. Are your loved ones and family supportive of you making this transition? Please share any stories you have regarding their feedback.

My Dad, who is from the generation who benefited from the traditional corporate world and who has enjoyed a nice retirement, tells me to keep my job until I have something else in the bag.

"Don't take any chances...make sure," he says. My parents are supportive in the fact that they give my brochures to their neighbors who they think could use my services. I appreciate that. They aren't from the generation that takes chances though so I am careful in how much I share about my vision and goals.

My friends are very supportive and ooh-rah me all the way.

What is your timeline for becoming an entrepreneur? Are there some specific goals that you hope to achieve by a certain time? What are those goals?

My plans include going at least part-time by May 2009 and full-time by the next year. This doesn't happen overnight...it takes time for formulate a transition plan. Bills still need to be paid. Food intake is still an essential part of my daily routine. Healthcare and other insurances are just a fact of life.

I keep my immediate, monthly, and long-term goals on my bathroom mirror where I can review them daily. My goals include completing my business plan, buying a laptop so I can work anywhere, joining trade organizations, and building the infra-structure of my business so it will run smoothly.

Wow. It sounds like you are being very systematic about starting a business, which is great. I'm curious about what makes you think you will be successful in running your own business?

Because, the sum of my life experience so far has prepared me for this moment in time. You have to think of it that way - all the jobs I've had and the functions I've performed in each, the people that have crossed my path, the knowledge from books and life in general has prepared me to be successful. Also, being exposed to all the online e-newsletters about changing course and being a self-bosser has been invaluable in my growth as an entrepreneur.

Anything else you'd care to share with us regarding the transition from being laid off to starting a business?

I have learned along the way that a strong belief in one's self is essential for success - this I have struggled with - I wasn't raised with the awareness of being able to accomplish anything. I was a timid, late-bloomer, very shy.

Now, in my early 50's, I am internally strong and I am gaining speed in knowing self-confidence is much needed to run my own enterprise and be able to approach people about why they should be doing business with me.

I couldn't agree more. Self-confidence is essential for entrepreneurs. Listen, we really appreciate your time. Last question: do you have a name for your new business?

Yes, it's Winning Proof. My website is winningproof.com.

Great name. Listen, we'll be watching your progress and hopefully it's just a matter of time before you can focus all your energy on your business. In the meantime, hopefully some of the visitors to Gaebler.com who might need a good proofreader, copy editor or copywriter will get in touch with you. Thanks again for doing this interview!

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Are you on a mission to become an entrepreneur? If so, we hope Michelle's dedication to starting a business inspires you. We welcome your comments, tips and advice below. Thanks!

  • Patrick Rwabwogo posted on 11/22/2009
    Patrick Rwabwogo
    Michelle's dedication to starting own business is very interesting. It has given me courage because am also thinking and planning to start my own busness and be self employed in two years time. Michelle's zeal has increased by inspiration.

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