Hanging Out Your Shingle

“Well, I finally hung out my shingle,” I said to my 21-year-old son, a few days ago.

“Your what?”

“My shingle.”

“Is there something wrong with our roof?”

Is it me getting old, or doesn’t anyone use that expression anymore?

I’m sure the people my age still use it anyway.  “Hanging out one’s shingle” is an American idiom dating back to the early 1800’s, when lawyers, doctors, and other businesses used shingles for signboards.  When you walk along a sidewalk in a downtown area, you can often see little signs in front of businesses, hanging above the sidewalk.  These always remind me of the expression “hanging out your shingle.”

I finally hung out mine.  I’ve been thinking about it for far too long, and it was time to just do it.  What kept me stifled in inaction was not knowing exactly what I wanted the “shingle” to say.  My husband is a brilliant entrepreneur, and has been ever since his father gave him a wagon-load of tomatoes to sell when he was five.  (If you saw a picture of him at age five, you’d understand how no one could say “No” to him.)

When we got married over 26 years ago, he told me he didn’t want me to have to work.  I could if I wanted to, but he preferred I utilize my talents doing volunteer ministry work.  Yes, even back then were post-feminist-movement times, but I thought it was very sweet and courageous of him to say that.

A few years later when I had three small children, I was very thankful for my husband, to be able to stay home with them.  But I would become livid when I’d write a check at the grocery store, and the cashier would ask me, “Do you work?”

You bet your @#*! I work!

No, I didn’t unleash those nasty thoughts on the thoughtless inquisitor.  But my eyes would pop with astonishment at her insensitive question as I tended to a shopping cart loaded with food and kids.  With three small children at home, You bet your @#*! I work!

The kids got older and started leaving for college.  With the ever-encroaching “empty nest” syndrome, I knew I needed to find some way to utilize my talents and gifts profitably.

“What do I want to be when I grow up?” became my mantra.  I got lots of ideas, and bought way too many website URL’s.

Finally, it hit me.

Why don’t I just keep doing what I’ve been doing for years (for free) as a volunteer, because I absolutely love it?

Bingo!  This is it.  I’ve been working with non-profit organizations for years, helping them increase their donation and membership levels.  I can continue to help the non-profits, but why not offer my specialized marketing training and experience for for-profit organizations as well?

So, I hung out my shingle at http://judyransom.com/ .  No, son, it has nothing to do with the roof or shingles.  But it has everything to do with hanging me out on the line.

It makes me feel a little vulnerable, despite my confidence in my chosen field, marketing.  I’m “out there,” for everyone to see.  Yes, it’s terrifying, but wonderfully so.

If you’ve been thinking about hanging out your own shingle, I encourage you to just do it.  Yes, it’s scary, but getting out of your comfort zone always is.  It’s been said that the greatest enemy to human potential is your comfort zone.  Squash the enemy…stretch out into the unknown so you can grow.  You’ll be glad you did!

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6 Responses to “Hanging Out Your Shingle”

  1. web tools Says:

    I like reading an article that can make people think.
    Also, many thanks for allowing me to comment!

  2. search marketing local Says:

    When I initially left a comment I appear to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from
    now on whenever a comment is added I receive 4 emails with the
    exact same comment. Is there a way you can remove
    me from that service? Thanks!

    • judyransom Says:

      Lewis, ya got me. I have no earthly idea how to stop you from being bombarded with each comment — times 4! That must be so annoying! How ’bout you unsubscribe … and then if I haven’t made you so mad you want to spit … subscribe again … but don’t leave anything “clicked” that says anything remotely related to receiving updates on comments, OK? (Unless you want to hear feedback, in which case you should only click once.)

      Are you getting four copies of this reply?

      Are you getting four copies of this reply?

      Are you getting four copies of this reply?

      Are you getting four copies of this reply? 😉

  3. Becky Wooley Says:

    I am a Christian author who writes murder mysteries. I found your blog while researching “hanging out your shingle.” I am making a sign on a wooden shingle for my nephew who is graduating from law school. It will have his name + Esq. , Attorney at Law and Wedding Singer. (He sang at events to help pay for law school.)

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