Successful entrepreneurs are pursuing their dreams at full throttle. Whether they're after creative expression, personal empowerment or simply the freedom to manage their own futures, entrepreneurs feel they have the authority to realize their potentials--a privilege they couldn't get in an ordinary job.
"When I left corporate life [in 1984], everyone thought I was crazy. Back then, corporate life meant security," says 45-year-old Barbie Dallmann, owner of Happy Fingers Word Processing & Resume Service in Charleston, West Virginia, which saw $118,000 in revenues in 1998. "But starting my own business was a spiritual awakening. I found out what was important to me--being able to follow my own interests, having some control over my destiny, writing my own corporate mission statement. When I come up with an idea, I run with it. I can't stand waiting around for other people to make decisions."
Tracy Porter, whose Princeton, Wisconsin, company, Tracy Porter--The Home Collection, designs and licenses upscale home furnishings and accessories, lives by the mantra "Dream with your eyes open." For Porter, this is less a slogan than a description of her life. When she and her husband, John, moved to rural Wisconsin and started their business (then called Stonehouse Farm Goods) in 1991, they were in hot pursuit of a new lifestyle--one that touted such lofty goals as creating beauty and living with nature. Have eight years of hard experience made the Porters less idealistic? Just the opposite.
"Being satisfied means many things to us," says Tracy, 31. "It means that every day we're on an amazing journey. It means we're laughing no matter what is going on. It's about seeing everyone you work with grow in really wonderful ways, and knowing you've helped create a culture that's delicious to be in, surrounded by people who have their value systems firmly in place. We also find it satisfying to be able not only to put beautiful things into the marketplace, but to wrap a truly positive, encouraging and hopefully inspiring message around them as well."
Indeed, what's not to like about that?
"The key here is fulfillment," says corporate leadership advisor Marsha Sinetar, author of To Build The Life You Want, Create the Work You Love (St. Martin's Press). "When you're fully engaged in what you're doing, there is joy in the process and the outcome."