Miia’s story: What I particularly like about entrepreneurship is being able to determine my own work and timetable
My career has taken quite a winding path. First I was in the insurance sector, then I left that to become a cosmetology entrepreneur, and now I make websites.
I never dreamed of working as an entrepreneur – quite the opposite, I thought that I never want to become one. My father was an entrepreneur, and his everyday life did not look in any way appealing. As a child, I had no clear career aspirations. During upper secondary school, I was considering becoming a landscape designer, for example, but then I went to study business economics.
I graduated as a 20-year-old Bachelor of Business Administration with marketing as my specialism, and then I literally took the first job that was offered to me – as a claims settler in an insurance company.
The insurance industry was never a passion for me, but I sought to be diligent in my work, just like many others do. I did my job well, studied for a degree in insurance alongside my work, and then applied for and was selected for a new role coaching new and current team members in our customer service.
In the process, I also managed to bring myself close to burnout. Of course, there were other factors involved besides my work, but the experience left me wondering if I want to keep working in the insurance sector.
It took just over a year before some ideas for the future began to take shape, and surprisingly the idea of entrepreneurship began to interest me more and more. Underlying this was the thought that I wanted to have more influence on my own work and how I did it.
Running my own company was a growing experience
After much reflection, I decided to apply to study as a cosmetologist. Part of the reason was to work as an entrepreneur after graduation, because in three main forms of employment in the cosmetology field are running your own beauty salon, contract-based entrepreneurship, which is like working on commission, and ‘chair-rental’ entrepreneurship, where you pay a fixed monthly fee to have your own chair/booth in a beauty salon. Other attractive aspects of this field were the focus on customer service and getting to do a job in which the customer gets to relax.
I graduated in 2013, the same year I turned 30, and started as a chair-rental entrepreneur. I quickly moved on, however, to running my own beauty salon. Running a company that was entirely my own was a growing experience, and, compared to working as a X, it opened up a whole new perspective on the everyday life of an entrepreneur.
Although I liked working as a cosmetologist, I was also discovering new interests. I had started learning how to make websites because I designed my first website myself and then improved it over time.
Also marketing, which I had become familiar with during my Bachelor of Business Administration studies, began to interest me in a completely different way, as it became part of my everyday life as an entrepreneur. In addition, I got to study all about social media marketing, because social media was something no-one had even heard of yet back when I did my BBA.
I first got thinking about whether I could help other beauty care entrepreneurs with their marketing. I came up with the idea of offering them online marketing courses. After putting together a few such courses, I decided to close my own beauty salon, return to working as a rental chair entrepreneur in a familiar beauty salon, and keep working at the same time on my marketing courses.
As is often the case with entrepreneurship, my first idea was not the one that worked best. So I put those marketing ideas on the shelf and focused again on being a cosmetologist.
After six years in this job, however, I realised that I need to look for a new line of work. The cosmetology work had caused me to get dry skin on my hands in the winter. With time, these symptoms worsened from being seasonal to being year-round, and I had to use cortisone to keep the skin from itching and cracking. It seemed pretty clear that I couldn't plan on working as a cosmetologist until retirement.
When one’s work is inspiring, it can be hard to put it aside
So I started thinking again about what I could do instead. I enjoyed entrepreneurship and did not want to look for paid work, so the new job had to be something I could do as an entrepreneur.
I had created and revamped my company’s website over the years, and I had also made websites for people. It was something I enjoyed doing. So I started wondering if I could actually start offering website creation services.
I happened to find a training that dealt with the questions I had about selling website services. I decided that I would keep working as a cosmetologist alongside this new work for as long as necessary, and I started offering website creation to customers at the end of 2019.
This website work has gradually grown to become the larger part of my business, and at the same time I have reduced my cosmetology work. What I particularly like about my work is the creativity and getting to tackle and solve technical problems.
In spring 2022, my company celebrated its ninth birthday. There are always many ups and downs in the life of an entrepreneur, but I wouldn’t want to return to paid employment. I particularly enjoy having the freedom to determine my own work and timetable. Of course, when problems come, all you can do is look in the mirror and try to reflect on what went wrong.
As I work on the websites from my home office, I have also had to learn how to separate work from leisure. When one’s work is inspiring, it can be difficult to put it aside, and during quiet moments it is easy for me to start thinking whether there is something I should be working on.
Indeed, I have tried to build my business in a direction that gives me more free time that I can simply enjoy in peace. My Nettisivut Päivässä™ (Website in a Day) service, for example, involves reserving specific days in my calender that I use for carrying out customer work. This helps to keep my calendar clear. In addition, I have also tried to make all the other business tasks, such as marketing, as straightforward as possible so that they don’t take up too much of the day. I try to devote my leisure time to hobbies, such as reading, knitting, jogging, and to spending time with close family and friends.