If you could start over again, what would you do?

A couple years ago I opened a new free business checking account at WaMu. With the bank account came information about the site StartupNation, a great online information resource for entrepreneurs and small business owners. At the time I went online and subscribed to their weekly newsletter. The site contains articles, blog entries, podcast links, the weekly newsletter, and other valuable resources for any business owner. Recently the site added a StartupNation Community Forum (like I need to add one more forum to my list of current addictions) for its members to exchange information, business frustrations, success stories and more.

On the forum, Rich Sloan, co-founder of StartupNation, recently posed the business-related question "If you could start over again, what would you do?" It caused me to take a quick look back at my own career. My response to question was:

I would still be a graphic designer, but I would have followed my passion within the field much sooner.

Beginning to work independently was not originally part of the plan when I got out of school in 1980. The week I moved to Portland several ad agencies and design firms literally shut their doors in horrible economic times. Other designers were getting laid off all over town. Taking on contract projects was the only way to go at the time. By about 1995, I was getting burned out. For over 17 years (two while still in college) I had been taking on any and all design projects that were coming my way. I thought that was what a designer was expected to do. In discussing my situation with my sister - who owned an advertising and PR firm - she asked one question: "Why aren't you doing what you really enjoy the most?" I looked at her with a big "question mark" on my face and she said "logo design."

It was a "hit myself in the forehead, should've had a V-8" moment. She was right - I should have been doing what I enjoyed the most. I should have given myself permission to turn down the projects that were of the least interest to me. I should have followed my "gut instinct" and altered the focus of my business to what I had considered nearly a decade earlier when I had first considered a possible business name for my design efforts.

Since adopting the business name Jeff Fisher LogoMotives, and changing the focus of my business to identity design, my work efforts have been fun, exciting and challenging. I'm now considered an expert in my field on designing logos. If I had to do it all over again, I would listen a bit more to those little voices in my head that were attempting to help me chart a path for my career by telling me to follow my passions.

The question has lingered with me for the past few days. I'd like to pose it (and a couple others) to those in the design profession. "If you could start over again, what would you do? Are you following your passion? What great lessons have you learned along your career path? I'm curious what you think. Please feel free to add your personal comments to this post.

Oh, and if you need a great resource for business advice - and interaction with other business owners - check out StartupNation. One little warning to those in the design field - just like most initial small-business owner interactions (in the "real" and cyber worlds) you need to be prepared to provide continuing education, in regards to the value of professional design as an effective business tool, to those just beginning their entrepreneurial adventures at StartupNation.

I do appreciate Joel Welsh, the Chief Community Officer of StartupNation, mentioning me today in his blog Hitting on the Game of Entrepreneurship

© 2006 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

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