The topic of entrepreneurship fascinates me. I often wonder what makes one person seek out entrepreneurial opportunities while others are content to be employees. I believe for some people the real and perceived risks of business ownership is too overwhelming for them to fathom. For others, there’s the immense commitment of time and resources and not to mention the financial implications. Being an entrepreneur or an employee both have their risks, it’s just a matter of which setting is more comfortable for you and where you see yourself fit.
I had the opportunity to discuss this topic with Elisabeth Vezzani, the Co-founder and CEO of Sugarwish. During an inspirational conversation we talked about the gratifying aspects, along with work-life balance issues entrepreneurs face as a business owner.
Ms. Vezzani, like many people, gained her experience from years in a corporate environment, specifically the staffing industry. During this time, she noticed a gap in the corporate gift market and created a company called Sugarwish, a startup that brings a revolutionary and sweet approach to gifting.
While working in the staffing industry, she sought out clever and unique gifting services to satisfy her own business needs and was disappointed with what was available. She recognized the need and from there decided on a type of gift that appeals to most people and envisioned how these gifts of recognition and thanks could be easy and fun to give and get. According to Elisabeth, “It all started as a conversation I was having with a friend about the lack of clever gifts that were available. I wanted to be able to give a gift that I would want to receive.”
Creating something to satisfy personal need then building it out to offer to others makes a lot of sense to me and one of the elements in the “secret sauce.” You have an idea. However, the change of moving from a position where a consistent source of income coupled with benefits and work that you enjoy doing, is still a big leap over to entrepreneurship.
Still desiring to know more about what differences someone experiences, I asked Elisabeth about the biggest adjustments she encounters between her corporate leadership position and self-employment. As with most entrepreneurs I’ve spoken with, her comments were not surprising. “The biggest difference with self-employment is that there’s no “off button.” states Elisabeth, “Much of it is my total love for Sugarwish… and my inability to stop thinking about what we can do better, or what we can do next. I want to be sure we are making Sugarwish all that it can be, and see it reach its full potential.”
Ah, the “off button.” This comment makes something come to mind. I see entrepreneurship much as I view parenthood. A full-time, no holds barred, in-for-a-penny in-for-a-pound commitment. Another element of the “secret sauce.” But wait… this sounds like work-life imbalance more than symmetry. According to Elisabeth, “The balance is a little tricky, because that separation line is really blurred. Sugarwish fits into both my work and life categories. There is no “leaving it at the office”. There just can’t be. Keeping balance (and my sanity) requires a little more juggling, a little more understanding from family and friends… and a whole lot less sleeping.” There it is! There’s no separation from personal to business, because for an entrepreneur, their business is personal and so meaningful to them.
But surely, something is a driving force for people bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. They must get more out of the experience than what meets the eye. I can understand the self-satisfaction of “building” something and watching it grow, much like how people who love to garden enjoy seeing the fruits of their efforts develop. The gratification appears to run deep, but understanding the particulars of what is most impactful is probably personal. When I asked Elisabeth about her perspective on the gratification return on investment, she was adamant.
“One of the most gratifying aspects of my job is being able to watch Sugarwish continue to grow,” states Elisabeth, “and seeing it develop from a conversation, to an idea, to an initial website, to a thriving company has been unbelievably satisfying and inspiring. Another, is knowing that what we originally set out to do, specifically, delivering happiness, is working. We get to see how kind, thoughtful, generous and just generally awesome people are to each other… each and every day. All we hear is the good stuff and it never, ever gets old. It is literally the best job in the world.”
Question answered. I appreciate her impassioned response and obvious love of what she does for work. The most important element in the “secret sauce” revealed… a passion for what one does for work.
This desire for independent creativity and drive doesn’t need to be as an entrepreneur. Many people don’t build an empire, yet they still find happiness in what they do and look forward to doing it… every day. In Elisabeth’s case, she found her passion, built her business and set high bars to improve its performance to deliver more gratification, not only for herself, but for the people who interact with her company. For her entrepreneurship is a sweet deal with plenty of cowbell.
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