Being your own boss! I can imagine how enticing it may appear: “You will have your own schedule, own choices, own perspective” – the only part of the equation set aside is precisely what may speak volumes: the “own” one. Yes, you will be on your own more than often. Yes, maybe you feel overwhelmed. Let us talk business: were you asked to define “successful teacherpreneur”, would you be able to think of someone saying some “nos” once in a while, or working less than average? Be honest.
I’m not saying that being an entrepreneur is not as life-changing as it seems; on the contrary, that’s exactly because it is and I wish you strive for excellence that I’ve decided to shed light on the elephant in the room: mental health (or the lack of it) and entrepreneurship.
I have always been in love with creative, leader, or entrepreneur-oriented matters: as a child, I even used to sell my drawings at school for 50 cents! I guess that deep inside I always knew that I would start something from scratch someday. Unfortunately, little did I know that many years before (and during) this enlightening process in my career, I would have to deal with depression three times. I’ve had to work on the verge of a breakdown and I’m not saying this proudly – depression is a disease, and I don’t intend to romanticize it. I am saying this for you to reflect, and to raise awareness.
I’ve reaped some lessons from this experience that books are unlikely to bring up, and what I can assure you is the following: you will only know the importance of self-care as a teacherpreneur when you really need it, and when this moment comes, it means you probably can’t handle it anymore.
Well, what has tearcherpreneurship taught me on that? I’ve learned that one of the pitfalls many of us may fall into when setting up a business is to wear too many hats; especially women, as FOMO and impostor syndrome help us constantly feel we are not enough. The fact is nothing is worth your sanity, so being your own boss doesn’t mean setting exactly the bad reference of boss you’ve had for yourself.
I’ve found out that self-knowledge is key and it is of paramount importance to understand the appropriate moment to broaden horizons and the one to hold back. Every “no” to something you can’t do may be a “yes” to a better outcome. Having that in mind, I would dare to say the term work-life balance is inaccurate – “work” shouldn’t come before “life”, as just for the sake of work we tend to condone situations that can be harmful to both.
Being alone is a state, not a sentence. You may be alone; you don’t need to, though. There will always be someone willing to help, to listen. Should you feel depressed, reach out for help.
After all, a successful teacherpreneur is someone who understands that loving what they do is different from loving themselves, and success comes when both are aligned.
Renata Colombo Scardoelli
Renata Colombo is a passionate teacherpreneur who has been in the ELT field since 2009, having taught from kids to adults for different schools. She holds Cambridge certificates, a degree in Translating and Interpreting, a pronunciation extended course and several courses about leadership, entrepreneurship, and digital marketing. She has worked as a course developer and writer, translator, speaker, content creator, English teacher, and teacher educator. She runs her own online business called English Set and is the head of BRAZ-TESOL Wellbeing SIG.