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My Business is Whatever I Want it to Be




A year or two before I quit my day job, I began to think deeply about all the things I enjoyed doing.


I liked designing, I enjoyed writing and I was passionate about the internet and being part of the digital age.

I recall feeling stifled by my old job for many reasons, but also because like most corporate jobs you really only use one skill or collection of skills exclusively.

One of the many business books I recommend is Derek Sivers  Anything You Want.

The title of the book refers to his insight, that if you create your own business, it really can be anything you want.

I find this idea incredibly liberating.

I’ve built my business full-time (for the most part) over the last three years, I’ve been able to flex all kinds of muscles that were previously atrophying.


  • As a designer, I’m increasingly finding my own voice and visual style. Considering I’ve been a visual designer for about twenty years, this may sound astounding. However, working in a firm, you’re constrained by client wishes and pre-existing style guides. With e.m.papers, it’s my own show. I can design anything I want.
  • I don’t consider myself a blogger, but I happen to publish three blogs! I’ve honed and continue to refine my skill as a writer, which I deeply love. I am the writer, I am the editor. I write anything I want.
  • Entire worlds have opened up to me via conferences, blogger meet-ups and creative events. I get to plan each month and spend each day deciding how and where I want to invest my time. I don’t know if I could ever give up this ability to do whatever I want, and feel that I’m the master of my own destiny.

I could go on and on; I’ve also done a significant amount of public speaking and have learned more about social media and digital platforms then when I worked at a large digital firm (nothing like having to do everything yourself and get your hands dirty!)

The main point is this: My work allows me to feel that I’m living up to my full potential. It can be scary at times, but it beats the ‘safety’ and routine of a conventional job any day.

Image source: Simone Anne for Death to the Stock Photo

Eleanor Mayrhofer

Eleanor Mayrhofer has written 6 posts in this blog.

Eleanor Mayrhofer is the 'e.m.' behind e.m.papers, a printable stationery business. Before striking out on her own she worked for over 15 years at digital agencies as a designer, user experience practitioner, project manager and process methodology expert. She shares how to apply the expertise she gained in project management and methodology to running an indie business at Steal This Process.

What say you?