One of my favourite novels is the 'Accidental Tourist' by Anne Tyler - partly because I like the actual title and also because my mother's maiden name is Tyler, so it allows me the fantasy of being distantly related to Pulitzer nominated literary royalty. It also happens to be a very moving book and I like the message that even those things that appear to happen accidentally give purpose to our lives.
So when I was quizzed recently on how I would describe myself on my newly created website, I scoffed at the term 'entrepreneur' stating that I had only become one 'by accident'. Hence the 'Accidental Entrepreneur' was born and now here I am attempting to give meaning to the title.
Once I had analysed this new accidentally-arrived-at status, I realised that pretty much everything good and meaningful in my life has happened by accident.
As a child I imagined myself as a 'foundling', left in a basket, swaddled in rags on the doorstep with a moving note from my 'real' mother to my 'adoptive' parents. I wasn't adopted, of course. I am blatantly my parents' daughter and was born into a bustling extended family with parents and grandparents dancing attendance around this imaginative new arrival.
As if this wasn't impossible enough for my poor family, this fantasy was further supplemented by the spooky addition of an imaginary friend, called 'Sarah Jane', who went everywhere with me until she finally vaporised when I found flesh and blood friends at school.
My career comprises of two truly accidental elements which were not in any way planned given that I had targeted my goal to be a journalist soon after 'Sarah Jane' vanished from my life. My teen years were spent as editor of my own hand-crafted magazine written and drawn lovingly by me with a bit of help from Lettraset and a much cherished set of felt tip pens.
I went on to make the journalism dream a reality when at the age of 19, as a graduate from the London College of Fashion, I landed a job as fashion assistant on a posh glossy magazine. By my 20th Birthday, I was editing my very own fashion and beauty pages on a popular 'teen-mag' of the day.
The professional detour into public relations came a few years later as a result of redundancy, recession and an attempt at running my own retail establishment. I stepped away from journalism having been given the opportunity to open a lingerie boutique in partnership with a woman I had met through working on a fashion trade magazine. The accidental element involved a difference of opinion that prematurely ended the business venture after just two years and I needed a job quick.
Falling back on my journalistic training, a surprisingly successful 25 career as a public relations consultant followed, during which I developed the courage and confidence to promote my own business as well as those of my clients. By the time I accidentally became a 'comedy producer', I had accumulated a wealth of experience and a collection of useful skills to grow my own brand.
As if this is not confessional enough about my haphazard approach to life, my two children are (in the nicest possible way) happy accidents and the result of a one long, happy and accidental marriage to my second husband. I would never have sat down and planned a family in the way that most sensible people do or considered marriage again had I not been 'with child'.
Given this apparent lack of planning you might understand why, when I am described as an 'entrepreneur', I first blush with a sense of pride and then suffer a serious dose of 'imposter syndrome'. The truth is that I really don't think of myself as an entrepreneur. If I am, then it's another lucky and rewarding accident arising out of my passion for comedy engendered by the father, who 'found' me on the doorstep all those years ago! Sadly he never got to see Funny Women in action as he died in 1998.
All of this goes to prove that life is a series of consequences and, whether or not you consider some of the obstacles along the way as 'accidents', it is how you deal with the unexpected that shapes you. Somewhere along the way the notion of risk was instilled in me, despite the fact that I was rubbish at physical stuff like sport and, at best, a 'creative' girl who only ever got two badges at Guides: one in path finding and the other in art ensuring that I can find my way to a gig and create a poster.
I am all about the process and know that the means to achieve will come from somewhere if you believe in your goal. This philosophy has served me well through two marriages, two children, and several business ventures. Accidents continue to happen and they make me stronger and more creative.
Plus it's no accident that Funny Women continues to grow and thrive despite the accident of its genesis - I thank that misogynistic comedy promoter who told me that 'women aren't funny' 12 years ago. Without him none of this would ever have happened!Suggest a correction