Even the word always seemed to carry so much stress.
Mortgaging your house to make payroll. (And then having the company die anyway.) Dumping an unfair workload onto your spouse. Broken promises to your kids.
And all this to feed an adrenaline addiction that, frankly, I don’t have. I don’t bungie jump, I don’t snowboard, and I didn’t think I had any desire to become an entrepreneur.
That was then, this is now
Looking back, I realize that it wasn’t having my own shop that scared me. It was all of the baggage I carried about the idea of an “entrepreneur.”
(Jason Fried of 37 Signals argues that we shouldn’t even use the word entrepreneur, that we should just call people “starters” instead. His book, Rework, is terrific, by the way.)
For most of my career, I let other people make the decisions because I figured they must know better than me. Maybe they had an MBA, or they earned a ton of dough, or they’d gone through that whole mortgaging the house to make payroll thing.
When I started blogging, I started to meet a different kind of entrepreneur.
Did they have stress?
Oh yeah, my new entrepreneurial friends had plenty of stress. Some days (or weeks) were anxious and crazy busy and they didn’t know where to go next.
A satisfying life isn’t one long soak in the tub. Challenge and growth are stressful, no two ways about it.
But they also had a lot of freedom. A lot more freedom than the more traditional entrepreneurs I knew.
They weren’t slaves to their business. They could ramp up or down, depending on their goals. Maybe because they were online, they were quicker to get help when they needed it — sometimes a coach, sometimes a VA, sometimes automation.
And they took breaks when they needed to. They put their relationships first. For the most part, they maintained their most important machine.
Now I don’t want to get into “Four-Hour Workweek” fantasy land. (In his book of that name, Tim Ferriss at one point spells out his office hours. Guess what — they add up to well more than four hours a day, never mind a week. The book is good, but don’t take the title literally.)
But entrepreneurship has changed. New tools, new ways to access markets, and new economic patterns have given us a lot more varied ways of making a living, even if we’re doing something traditional.
And education about how to make your business work is so much better (cheaper, easier to find, more comprehensive) than it was when I first started poking around on the SBA website trying to figure out how I could get started as a freelance copywriter.
We don’t have to choose any more between complicated/limited information (“First, sign a lease for $5000 a month”) and the sleazy-breezy “hey, get rich sitting at home in your underwear!” stuff.
My take on what holds businesses back
Looking back on what kept me in a day job for so long, I found what I call five lies of entrepreneurship. (OK, you could say “myths,” but let’s face it, “lies” is a better headline.)
These are five ideas that might once have been true, or they might have always been baloney. It doesn’t matter.
What does matter is that if any of these is holding you back today, they can all be reframed or just plain old ignored.
If you run a business today, these lies can still trip you up. They can keep you from expanding, from growing, from really enjoying your business, and from building a business that supports your life instead of eating it alive.
Here are the five lies I zeroed in on:
- That entrepreneurs are some kind of special breed of human being … that they’re “different” from you or me.
- That a business has to eat your life.
- That entrepreneurs have to be crazy risk-takers.
- That there’s a Right Way and a Wrong Way.
- That having your own business is all or nothing.
Now, once upon a time I had a nifty sequence to send you, that funneled into a product that doesn’t exist today. Things change.
But this strikes me as a good theme for a podcast or set of podcasts — so stay tuned and keep an eye on PinkHairedMarketer.FM. When I’ve got it figured out, I’ll update this post as well.