Entrepreneurship Is Not For Everyone

Entrepreneurship is not for everyone

Being an entrepreneur is cool right now, but let’s be honest – entrepreneurship is not for most of us. To put it another way – anybody can be an entrepreneur, but most people probably shouldn’t.

I went on a spontaneous Facebook live rant about this very topic a few months ago, so if you don’t feel like reading this post just scroll to the bottom and watch the video.

I’ve had almost every kind of job you can imagine – working in bars, security, the military, restaurants, teaching – and without a doubt being an entrepreneur is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Doubly so since I started a family.

If you think being an entrepreneur means more time off, less stress, and living a life of swag and leisure, well I hate to break it to you but you’re deluding yourself. That kind of lifestyle doesn’t happen until you make it, and making it doesn’t happen overnight unless you’re insanely lucky.

For most entrepreneurs it takes years of grinding.

For most of us, there is the daily grind and hustle. The constant struggle to stay motivated while working ridiculously long hours (not counting the sneaky work you do on weekends) and having very little time off.

Did I mention that it gets doubly hard when you have a family? Balancing family time with building your business is an eternal struggle. Thinking about playing Xbox after the kids go to bed? Forget it mate, you’ve got proposals to write and contracts to review.

As I said, when you get there it’s worth it. I’m not where I want to be yet, but I’m getting there. I’m far enough along the entrepreneurial journey that going back to a 9 to 5 simply isn’t an option. A “regular job” couldn’t provide for my family the way I can, nor will it ever let me provide for them in the future to the level that I want to.

So, before you hitch your wagon to being an entrepreneur, ask yourself (and be deadly honest)- is this really for me? Am I willing to work harder, sacrifice more, fail, start over and have less until I make it? If you’re not being honest with yourself about your commitment then you are setting yourself up to fail, and your valuable energy would be better spent elsewhere.

(Click here to view the video if you’re reading this post in the newsletter!)

Work On, Not In Your Business

A huge mistake I’ve made is thinking that I can handle everything myself. If I don’t know it, I’ll learn it. It’s an approach that certainly gets things done but it is not in any way efficient.

In fact, it’s about as far from efficient as you can get and in many ways it can be detrimental to your business. If you’re working on the minutiae and administration of your business – the bookkeeping, the website updates, trying to mentally untangle lease agreements and legalese, then you’re not actually spending time growing and developing your business.

You’re not moving the needle.

A $200 dollar an hour might sound expensive if you need a lawyer to look over a contract, but it’s probably way less than the potential lost revenue from you spending 8 hours trying to decipher a document when you could be hustling for new business. Plus the lawyer brings years of experience that you don’t have which allows her to point out important, potentially deal-breaking things that you a may otherwise miss!

As a small business owner, there are certainly some skills that are definitely worth learning and not farming out – social media marketing – but generally, you should surround yourself with those who are already experts and use their skills and judgment to your advantage.

Even if you’re just starting out and don’t have much cash to hire consultants, freelancers or staff, you can always barter for services and skills, and a host of sites exist where you can farm out business services for as little at five bucks.

Time is your most valuable commodity you have, don’t waste it working in your business. Spend it working on your business.

Biggest Mistake I Make As An Entrepreneur? Not Looking After Myself

Biggest Mistake - Paul O'Flaherty

You might not believe it, but stopping to take care of my health and fitness is one of the things that has the biggest positive impacts on my business.

I’ve talked before about work ethic, continuous self-education, and the hustle that is required to grow your business, but I’ve only briefly mentioned health and personal fitness as a personal goal for 2016.

I constantly fall into the trap of needing to get that one last thing done before I leave the office, or scheduling client work so that it infringes on my personal time. This results in my generally being unhappy with myself and less confident because I am unfit, two pants sizes larger than I want, and not as focused as I could be.

Experience has proven that when I take the time to work out and eat properly, I am more focused and energetic which allows me to achieve more during the hours that I work. I feel happier about myself which has a knock on confidence effect that has a positive influence on my dealings with clients, other business owners and my family (and who doesn’t want a happy family life, right?).

This year I’ve committed to getting my health back on track, I’ve even begun converting our garage into a place to work out complete with a treadmill, elliptical and weights (because driving to the gym is something I don’t have time for) and I urge you to do the same.

The next time there’s 15 minutes left in the work day and you decide to start that one last thing (deep down knowing it’s going to mean you spend two more hours in the office) just remember that it’s a trap.

A happier, healthier and more focused you is the best gift you can give your business, your family and yourself.

Risk, Reward, Entrepreneurs and the Self-Employed Fathers Quandary

Positive pregnancy test
This changes everything!

Lately I’ve become acutely aware of gauging risk in potential business activities. While evaluating risk has always been part of my decision making process, my willingness to take less informed risks (not my willingness to take risks) has been tempered by the knowledge that I will be a dad soon (early August).

Independent consulting can be a risky business. Work isn’t always guaranteed. You have to be a jack of all trades –  accounting, coffee boy, trash can emptier, designer, marketer, public speaker, toilet cleaner… You rarely work 40 hours a week (which is a drain on your family life), unless you happen to miss a few days being ill. You don’t get paid time off. Things you take for granted from employers, such as health insurance, become almost prohibitively expensive. The list goes on and on.

Frankly it’s easy to see why so many people don’t start their own business. Sometimes the deck really is stacked against you.

But then there’s the other side – there’s the rewards. Honestly the list of rewards is way shorter that the list of drawbacks, but I guess it takes a certain kind of personality to start a business, and for those people the rewards are enough.

Being able to take pride in what you’ve accomplished, built and achieved. Pride, self-satisfaction, accomplishment – those are perhaps the most important rewards. Many business will fail without ever making a penny, but real entrepreneurs will still look back and find something to be proud of that will make it all worth while. Many times that is simply that “I tried”, which is more than some folks ever will do.

There is, of course, the potential financial gain but it’s always a risk. Even the most well thought out idea can end up being shuttered for a million reasons that are beyond your control, but sometimes it pays off.

Obviously this is a dilemma that I found myself devoting many mental processing cycles to this week.

Without going into too many details, I was contacted (did not apply) and asked to come interview for a position as the Digital Media Manager of a television news station.

The position of DMM is a great gig, with a lot of potential for advancement as the station was part of a much larger media group, and the money’s not bad either!

I’m rather honored that they would even consider approaching me for the position, and this time last year I would have jumped at the opportunity in a heartbeat. I’d have been all over it quicker than a fat kid eating a Snickers bar.

This year it certainly gave me pause for some serious thought. A stable paycheck that is not dependent upon client retention and client base growth would certainly be a huge weight off my mind.

“Stability” – you have no idea how beautiful that word sounds to a man who’s recently found out he’s going to be a father.

But that paycheck would be a step down on what I currently earn. Bummer!

While there’s potential to advance as DMM (and it would look rather spiffy on my resume), there’s vast potential in what I currently do, and I’m so very excited by the impact my work is having for my clients.

Plus there’s so much opportunity to grow my business and have more clients. In fact, the opportunity is potentially only limited by my desire to create solutions.

And that is where I found myself this week – attempting to weigh up risks and rewards, stability vs earning potential, and all with not just my financial well-being in mind, but the financial well-being of my wife and unborn child.

I guess these are questions that every entrepreneur faces unless they are already quite wealthy, and these questions have a far keener edge when you have others that rely on you.

After evaluating and talking things over with Sara, I’ve opted to stick to the riskier but  potentially more rewarding path of longer hours, harder work and making clients happy.

I have to admit that I love work that is satisfying on creative, intellectual and technical levels, while providing a roller-coaster feeling of encountering new challenges daily.

I know that my our decision wouldn’t be the right course for everybody, but most decisions rarely are.