It wasn’t always this way. I remember a time when Friday would come around and I was all, “TGIF suckas!” And don’t get me wrong. I love weekends too–I love family time and letting work emails sit unanswered for a couple days and picking what to do and building things and lazing around with computer games.
But also I love the work week. I love working with my clients, telling their stories, building my training products, envisioning the future & direction of my company, taking chances, stretching myself, learning new things, focusing on my brand and reputation, solving problems, building systems…
I have learned more in a year as an entrepreneur than I did in four years of college (and I went to a great college!), and I am more who I want to be today than ever before… and expect to be more who I want to be tomorrow even than today.
Lots of folks would love to be where I am. So let’s talk about the top three reasons they’re not:
- Oh, and Money.
Money is tough. It’s scary. You put everything you have on the line at first. Some people figure out how to use other peoples’s money to do this, and that’s great for them. A few come into it with enough money to carry them for a while, but most of us start out using our own money, our own assets, our own credit lines. Even when business is good, cash flow can be tight because you have so many obligations. If you’re like me, you take care of your people and make sure they get paid first. Then you try to keep the lights on. Eating is your third priority.
I’ve talked to many a long-time successful business person and I’ve tried to figure out for years how they did this thing at first, this getting started. What I’ve figured out is that most of them (us), initially, just have to let go of the idea that financial security is the goal. I mean, YES, eventually. Eventually you hope to be making enough money that you don’t even have to worry about “security” any more.
But in the short term? Forget that 401k, the equity in your house, and college savings (except whatever has been given as gifts to your children–lock that away safely for them, because it’s not fair to use someone else’s money to fund your dream without their informed consent). Forget, for a while, knowing where next month’s mortgage check will come from or how you’ll buy groceries next week. Because, unless you’re already well-heeled, there is no starting a business without some really scary money stuff.
Sometimes you’ll want to quit because money is just that bad. Creditors will be calling and you won’t know what to say to them because you don’t have the cash to make the payment right now and you don’t know when you will, and probably it won’t be until after you get your son to the dentist for fillings and your dog to the vet for antibiotics and then tally up whether you still have enough for groceries that week. And you’ll be so fed up and tired and worn out and you’ll be ready to throw up your hands and say, “Uncle!”
I tried to quit a few months ago. I got scared and decided to get a job, a nice comfy job with health benefits and a 401k and a steady paycheck. And an employer paying part of my social security tax (did you know that the self-employed pay more taxes than employees?). I dressed up my resume, created a personal website, spiffed up my LinkedIn account, consulted with my leadership coach to create a great message & strategy for launching my job search. I was ready.
But then God butted in: “Seriously? WTH, chicka?” I mean, God sounded really annoyed. “Seriously, what are you doing? What what WHAT are you doing?”
Okay, reality check. I don’t think God personally meddles in our daily affairs as a general rule. Or, actually, ever. But I do believe God speaks to us if we listen.
Take it how you will, this is what happened: It was the day before I made a public announcement of my intent to seek a job. I walked downstairs to the office mailbox, expecting it to be empty, but it wasn’t. In the mailbox was an envelope. It was from a former client who was no longer engaged with my company. Inside the envelope, to my surprise and consternation: A sizable check.
I called them up, laughing, and said, “You guys must really love me–what do you want me to do with this check you’ve sent me out of the blue?” They laughed too and said, “It’s a deposit to start our program again in August.” I bit my lip. This was unexpected and… complicated. Would I be in business in August? Should I cash the check (I really, really needed the money)? Send it back? I said the only thing I could think of: “Well, thank you.” I decided to sit on it a few days.
The next day, someone called me up and asked for a quote on a project. Another, smaller, check arrived in the mail that day too. Two days later I had three major new contracts, one of them with a client likely to send me regular business. Even all together these projects & contracts were not enough to catch us up on everything we were behind on. But it was enough to bring me to my senses.
I cashed that darn check, set aside my resume, and stopped answering calls from creditors who never have productive things to say to me anyway. I realized that the worst possible thing that could happen on my current course is that we could end up going bust. Best possible thing? I could create a lifestyle and a career that I love. And become financially wealthy at the same time. Either way, I will learn and grow and sometimes fall down, and then get back up and go.
Had I decided to quit & get a job, I might always be safe, comfortable, taken care of (until the company has to cut jobs, that is). Perhaps that would be nice.
I also would always be spending my energy, my creativity, the best hours and days of my life…
My one wild and precious life…
Creating someone else’s dream.
What a trade-off.
Since then, my client base has sky-rocketed. I work with the best people and companies my market has to offer. I’m building processes & programs that will allow me to scale my business up and grow it in new and exciting ways. I chose this. I love it. I am still paying the price. Have we caught up financially? Ha! Check back in a few years. Is it terrifying? Every single day. Would I trade it for a job where TGIF is the best thing I have to say on a Friday afternoon?
Why? Because there’s not much I would trade for this one simple fact: I love Monday.