Turning Busyness into Business

23 Jun

With 96% of businesses having 20 employees or less, the U.S. has become the land of small businesses.  Here’s the trend.  Entrepreneurs excel in their craft and decide to make a business doing what they love.  Before counting the costs of pursuing their passion, they leap into the small business world, only to realize (often in mid-air) that starting a business takes a lot more than a love for your craft.  As do-it-yourselfers, entrepreneurs start to learn the ins and outs of bookkeeping, accounting, corporate law, marketing, sales…and the list goes on and on.  They find themselves caught in the vicious cycle of the average small business owner, soon realizing that they have lost the passion for their craft.  Long before learning how to fix the problem, they feel the effects of misplacing their passion.  I was once one of these entrepreneurs. 


Since the age of five, playing the piano has been my favorite hobby.  I started playing at the age of seven and by high school, made just as much money working 4 hours each week as my classmates who worked after-school jobs.  It wasn’t until I got my first work study job as a first-year student at Columbia University that I realized that I had turned my hobby into a job.  Because my job was on the weekend and I was only taking 12 credit hours, I decided to get a work-study job with the School of Continuing Education to keep me busy.  I was hired to answer the phone and handle general office tasks.  But since I was horrible at intercepting calls for the executives, they decided to give me busy work.  So when all tasks were complete, talking to my friends on the instant messenger became my new assignment.  One of my co-workers, Zulaika, who was good at answering and intercepting phone calls, had a running joke.  She would always wait for a moment where there was dead silence and ask “Thomas, are you doing legitimate work over there?” I would reply to her question with a cat-ate-the-canary kind of smile, as I pressed the ‘send’ button on the IM.  (Zulaika’s communication skills have really paid off – she’s now an editor for Essence Magazine.)  This is a major trend in entry-level jobs.  Either the employer gives busy work, or the people have learned to look busy.  Whereas my co-workers knew how to space their tasks between phone calls and look busy at all times, I would finish all of my work, then create my own…and try to look busy at all times.  My work habits reflected my purpose for getting the job.  Income wasn’t the issue – I was looking for busy work and another social circle. 


Millions of Americans go to work each day for the same reasons.  They look to get paid, socialize and advance their careers.  And then, if the boss wants to throw some work in there – that’s fine.  Who goes to work, looking to work?  What a ridiculous idea.  As a result, many people are still on the job, but have stopped working.  Wow – could that contribute to the economic state of this country – I wonder…



One Response to “Turning Busyness into Business”

  1. anointedvessel AKA Kenya Wednesday, 25 June 2008 at 12:14 PM #

    love the posts and the pics but the possibly related posts that are being automatically generated are getting on my nerves. I am going to complain to wordpress and write up a trouble ticket! They have nothing to do with your post and the last one is straight advert. I’ll get back to you on the complaint.


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