by Tina Seymour Demoran, Esquire

I get asked at conferences where I’m a speaker, at meetings, and in client consultations why I decided to open my own firm.

Here is the (long version) answer I give them…

Five years ago today, I looked around my corporate office in the legal suite at CMI and remembered something that Doug Treanor told me the first day I started working for him as an executive assistant in the respiratory care department at Baptist Hospital in Oxford in the early 90’s:

“If you look at your boss and don’t want his or her job, then you’re in the wrong company.”

I looked upstairs, and realized that I didn’t want to occupy any of the chairs in the executive suite.

Mama Eu and Philip’s dad had been having serious health problems. My current job did not afford me the flexibility needed to ensure that I would be there for them if they needed me, and quite frankly, I had no desire to move up any higher. I could either stay where I was or change my course.

So, I started planning.

I had an idea of what I wanted to do, and after a few months and several phone and in person meetings with my mentor, Jeff Ward, the idea became a concept.

A few months later, it became reality.

My little law firm has been open 4 1/2 years…

No one can really predict what the future holds.

However, five years ago, I decided that moving back home to be near my family, getting remarried, and starting a new life was not enough.

I wanted to chart my own career future as well.

Being a small business owner is terrifying.

There are sleepless nights, constant worries about whether or not you’re going to be able to make your bills next month, whether you are effectively taking care of your clients every day, and dealing with aggravation when things don’t get done in the time schedule that you think they should be done.

It’s celebrating with your clients when you win, grieving with your clients when a loved one passes away, and sharing their frustration when you lose.

It’s looking around and realizing that there are no sick days when you are a small business owner.

There are no closing times.

You are your own back up.

But, it’s so much more.

It’s walking into your office every morning, turning on the lights, and knowing that this is your day, your company, and your opportunity to be a part of something bigger than you are.

It’s answering the phone and stating the name of your own company, instead of someone else’s.

It’s looking into your client’s eyes and  realizing that they are trusting you with a part of their life. With their problems. With their hopes and fears.

It’s shutting down everything at the end of a very long day, tired and ready to go home, but still excited that this day provided so many surprises and so many new opportunities that you would’ve never experienced working for someone else.

It’s realizing that you have to be one of the craziest people on the planet to open your own business, but that you have to be even crazier to not follow your dreams.

I remember Mr. Walley and Mr. Coleman telling their students repeatedly in high school that, whatever we decided to do in our lives, we should aspire to do it well.

Even if we just swept the floor for a living, we should make it our goal to be the best damn floor sweeper in the world.

I may not be the best damn attorney in the world, but that’s not going to stop me from aspiring to be the best attorney I can be for my clients.

Or the best manager of my new company.

And when I get there, I know that it’s not going to be solely because of my own efforts.

There are so many who have helped shape my future, even when I didn’t realize they were doing so.

There are so many who gave me advice that stuck in my brain, just waiting to rise to the surface when I needed it.

There are so many who have put their faith in me, trusted me, and given me the courage to chart this future.

Today, five years after I stood in my office in the legal suite at my old company and looked around the room, I now stand in my own firm and look in a mirror by the front door.

Again, I remember those words Doug told me…and I smile.

Staring back at me in the mirror is my boss.

And she is exactly who I want to be.