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Episode 3: Unexpected Entrepreneurship

Updated: Jun 29, 2020

Main idea: Problem-solving businesses as a path to entrepreneurship/ism

Sub idea: You didn’t think you’d be an entrepreneur, but ….


  • How do people get here? -- layoffs, etc.

  • The Problem Solvers -- couldn’t get someone else to invest in you or your idea?

  • Everyone’s gigging -- the future of independent work

Let’s start with a little vocabulary:

  • Side hustle - the thing you’re doing part time while you’re full-time working for someone else. 

  • Start Up - the early days of your new company during which you know nothing

  • Making the Leap - leaving your full-time security and hoping your Start-Up will pay you

When I was working with the Women’s Business Center of SC I always, always told people to keep their full-time job as long as they possibly could. But in some cases, like mine, that realyl wasn’t an option.

When my husband got promoted and moved us to Columbia, S.C., my international, Fortune 300 company told me they didn’t have a “work from home” strategy or an office in Columbia. So TTFN. Deuces. Hit the bricks. And I was done. And trying to find full-time employment in a town where I knew no one and knowing people is how you get hired here.

After a few disastrous interviews, I realized I didn’t really want full time employment. So I set out to be a freelancer. Even brought a cool GenX book about it: My So-Called Freelance Life.

Clemson Road Creative started as a writing studio. That’s what I knew, what I thought I was good at, and what I thought I wanted to do. Then, working for a client one day, I was asked, “Why is writing the only thing you’re doing for us?” My skill set was software documentation, training, project management, and change management. I had a lot more to offer than wordsmithing so I became a consultant.

People come to entrepreneurship in a number of different ways -- looking for extra money to pay for kid’s ballet lessons or college, laid off from full-time employment and need income, found a way to monetize your hobby or skill set, got sick of the 9-to-5 grind and couldn’t find the remote, asynchronous work environment you wanted, so decided to launch your own thing.

However you got here, the point is you’re here now. When someone who’s been doing this a while asks you, “What problem are you solving?” do you have an immediate roll-off-the-tongue elevator pitch response? Or are you stumped?

Problem-solving businesses are one of two things -- 1) individuals who want to go into business saying to themselves, “what problem can I solve?” or 2) people who have a solution and couldn’t convince someone else to offer it so they had to build the business themselves.

In either case, it’s the problem-solving businesses, not the scarf knitters, that grow their enterprises through entrepreneurial practices.

That said, there is a place in the economy for so-called “gig” work which are those side-hustle, income-supplement things we sometimes do because our full-time job is unsatisfying. I was an adjunct instructor at the community college for years before becoming a full-time lecturer. It was how I earned classroom experience and some “vitae” creds.

Learn more about Clemson Road Academy here.

Do you have a side hustle? How did you become an entrepreneur? Tell us your story below.

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