Yesterday, my email lit up with messages from associates on LinkedIn, wishing me congratulations on my work anniversary They were very enthusiastic, the notices were from across my business spectrum, and I was taken totally by surprise.
In my 20 years of working for large media companies, work anniversary dates are clear, concrete demarcations. Actual dates in your personnel file. The day before, you were not part of the company and its mission. The day after, you were drawing a paycheck with benefits and associated politics. Five years from that date, you get a pin and your name in the company newsletter. Ten years later, a jeweled pin some applause at a company lunch. Someday, maybe a watch. Companies still do that.
But when you’re an entrepreneur, what does work anniversary mean?
For LinkedIn, it means the day you got around to changing your status. You can back-date the change, of course, but nailing down an entrepreneur’s work anniversary is slippery.
It could mean the day you incorporated – or, if you’re a non-profit, filed for non-profit status. In our case, that incorporation date came some months after we had, in our minds, formed the company. (Filing tax documents as a start-up is not generally at the top of your list.)
It could mean the day you first got paid. For some media entrepreneurs we’ve coached through Community Journalism Executive Training (CJET), that day may come long after their “work anniversary.” For tech startups, their salary line in the budget usually reads “$0.00” in each monthly slot until break-even month – which can be an optimistic finger in the wind.
It could mean the day you landed your first client or partner. For us, that came long before we legally created our LLC (a lot of entrepreneurs operate as individual/sole proprietors for years).
Or it could mean the day you first wrote your vision and intent on the back of a napkin. In our case – and in the case of many entrepreneurs – that date occurred before leaving the nest of another company. Here’s ours. (We were even so determined – or cheeky – that we sketched our our company logo.)
In an entrepreneurial world, there are many dates to celebrate. But I think the best date to celebrate is today.
Because, when you’re an entrepreneur, today is the day.