Monday, September 21, 2009


I'm starting to get nervous, and I'm thinking that's a good thing.

A few things are driving my discomfort. First is the cocooning. I'm a kibbitzer. Anyone who's worked with me knows that I can only go for about an hour without dropping by someone's desk for a chat. The advent of instant messaging made it even easier to start random conversation in the office and with distant coworkers.

Now I'm on my own. Me and the cat. She's lovely company, but beyond some purring and occasional meowing, she's not much of a conversationalist. And I've never been great at striking up friendships with people just by chatting with them on the elevator or in the lobby of my building. It wouldn't be hard to become a hermit.

Fortunately my town library has wireless access, so I've started going there to be among the living (and to get my lap back from the cat, but that's another story). It's also forcing me to do some work instead of philosophizing on what my reinvention should look like.

For instance, I finally got around to resubmitting my volunteer application to the National Park Service. After a visit to Ellis Island, I decided not to try to get a position there, since the tour I would have been volunteering to lead was a lot more basic than I'd anticipated. Yesterday I visited the Edison site in West Orange, and even though I've been there a million times, I got really charged up about the place (yeah, I'm an Edison geek). They're opening up the renovated portion of the park in a few weeks, and I'm dying to check it out. THAT would be really cool. On my way home from the site, my mind was racing with ideas. Eventually, I could run a tour company that would bring people to the various Edison-related sites around the state (and there are several, believe it or not). Hmm ... but I don't know yet if I'd be any good at it. Gotta check it out!

After putting in the form, I took another look at a Time Out New York article about an attorney who'd started her own tour company in Brooklyn. Though the article was brief, it contained enough information to get the queasies going: having to get liability insurance, incorporating, getting appropriate licenses from the Department of Consumer Affairs. I knew it couldn't be much different in New Jersey, which has a notoriously unfriendly environment in which to start a business.

Maybe I don't want to do that, after all.

Wait. This was supposed to be easy? Who am I listening to, anyway: the complacent me who'd rather be bored and dissatisfied than not succeed? Or the braver, more daring Sue who realizes (as the Buddhists say) that it's better to live your own life imperfectly and authentically than to live someone else's perfectly? How would I really know what's involved with getting a business off the ground unless I actually looked into it?

So for the past couple of hours I've been at the library, surfing the web for information on incorporating, registering with the state, and a bunch of other stuff. The main thing I learned is that I should probably not be going about it without input from a lawyer and/or accountant, but it's a start. I've also made some headway on a list of to-dos that make it all a little less scary. Big things, parsed into small bites, are ultimately much easier to digest.

Before I fall in love with this idea to the point of no return, I've got to reach out to a few folks who run tour companies or guide tours of historic sites. And I'll be doing a little market research on my own. Needless to say, if you know anyone I can talk with, let me know. And keep an eye out for an online survey from me!

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