Scholarship Finalist: Samantha Strand

Nurturing an entrepreneurial mindset

It’s difficult to quantify how much of an impact small business has had on my life, but only because it has so saturated my whole being that its influences are hard to distinguish from any others. I have been developing an open and entrepreneurial mindset my entire life, thanks in no small part to my parents. Growing up in a household in which both my mom and dad are entrepreneurs has certainly served to light a passionate fire within me for the thrill of small business ownership. When I was in fifth grade, my mom opened a women-only fitness center — a risky venture that challenged common perceptions of the personal training field and, yet, is still thriving today. My dad has always been a self-employed writer and photographer — even since before I was born. He has recently started a new business in the field of website design and Internet marketing for local businesses, and took the time to teach himself the ropes of a new and emerging industry. The passion and drive that my parents display each and every day has been a constant source of inspiration for me, and it pushes me gently but firmly toward the same path.

It’s not an easy path, for sure, but I would say both the best and worst part about entrepreneurship is the free fall of it all. The money coming in month to month is always a little different in my family, not to mention the hours my parents work and the work they actually have to be doing. But, that’s also what makes it intriguing. There’s no such thing as a “typical day.” I’ve seen first-hand the incredible feeling one can get from being their own boss, getting to call the shots, and, thus, having all the artistic freedom in the world to create a job from the passions in their life. It’s a beautiful thing to create something out of nothing — an idea from your heart that benefits not just yourself, but society as well.

Seeing my parents run their own small businesses has shaped many aspects of who I am. I believe this experience has made me very self-reliant and equipped to be a strong, independent person who doesn’t wilt simply because things get a little difficult. I am highly driven and have learned that, even when things seem their darkest, there is always something more you can squeeze out of yourself to make your creation more successful. I have seen that this world is constantly changing and that adapting to it is key. I know now that there is so much to discover in the world and so many experiences to have that I could never be satisfied with a normal 9-5 job. I want my career to be an extension of myself, a reflection of my passion, and a statement to the world that this is who I am, and this is what I believe matters most of all.

Having entrepreneurs as parents has also given me the feeling that I can accomplish anything, and it is because of this that I believe my future is what has been most shaped from being raised by small business owners. It is my dream to follow in their footsteps and one day open my own business. After nearly two decades beside two influential people who live and create outside the box, I think about careers differently than most of my friends. I picture them as an output for my passions, as always being interesting and challenging. What’s more, I picture a career like a relationship; I want my career to be something so entwined with my passions that it can make me go absolutely crazy sometimes, but at other times act as my buoy on the rocky seas of life. In short, I want my career to be nothing less than something I truly love.

When it comes down to it, I would say my parents being entrepreneurs is the single most important thing that has shaped my aspirations and how I go about accomplishing them. Being an entrepreneur is a lifestyle made up of many sacrifices and lots of hard work, but — most importantly — it means creativity, freedom, and happiness that no one can take away. There is something so invigorating about owning your own business, and it truly is a beautiful thing when a career and passion come together. As the old saying goes, “when you choose a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

This essay was written by Samantha Strand, one of 10 finalists for the Small Business Success Student Scholarship Program. Samantha and the other finalists were selected from more than 500 applications reviewed by the Scholarship Committee. Three of the finalists will win a $1,500 scholarship to be used toward furthering their education. To vote for Samantha or any of the other finalists, visit the Small Business Success Student Scholarship voting app on Facebook.

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