Brent and I own and operate six companies between us, all with their own unique offerings and challenges. No, these are not fortune-500 firms, no, we don’t have 600 staff and yes, we are actively involved with the inner-workings of our “babies.”
Not everyone can be an entrepreneur, and not everyone likes the idea of being an entrepreneur. The beauty of everyone being unique in their own way is that some people were born to be employees. Some were not. I was *definitely* not.
I did have jobs growing up, and I did clock punch, work on commission, and work for tips. I dealt with union bureaucracy, personality conflicts, and unreasonable managers. Each of these situations has shaped me into the entrepreneur I am today – and I am far from perfect at it.
I opened my first business in 1997, and it took me until about three years ago to actually use the phrase “I am an entrepreneur.” By definition (according to the nice folks at businessdictionary.com) I am, in fact, a serial entrepreneur, which is “an entrepreneur who continuously comes up with new ideas and starts new businesses.”
Over the years, I have heard some pretty unreal myths from non-entrepreneurs about their perceptions of entrepreneurs. I present to you, dear reader, the highlights, along with my perspective.
“You’re so lucky!”
Pardon me? Lucky? No. Lucky is winning the lottery. Lucky is finding a parking spot next to the door. Luck happens on casino floors, and in crowded parking lots. “Lucky” is not a term understood fully by entrepreneurs and I strongly suggest you not be in arms reach of a small business owner when you exclaim that phrase.
Entrepreneurs are not lucky. We are relentless. We are hardworking. We are disciplined and we are creative at seeing ways through tricky situations. Luck, my friends, sadly has nothing to do with it.
“You don’t have a boss, so you can do whatever you want at work!”
Partly correct. I don’t have *a* boss. I have about fifty bosses. They are often referred to as “clients” and they have a funny way of asking me to do fifty different things at the same time. And sure, I can do “whatever I want” at work, much in the same way one could have any colour they wanted of the 1909 Model T.
“You get to pick your own hours!”
Yes, I can pick my own hours. I can certainly pick which 14 hours of the day I work, on any given day. I can also decide if I’m going to work Saturday or Sunday or both (but not neither!). Here are things that I don’t pick:
– when the phone rings
– when the client demands a certain deadline be met
– when the client is able to pay (and no, it’s not every two weeks on “payday” in entrepreville.)
Truth be told, I’d almost rather pick one of these, than my own hours.
Ha! No, I am not rich, and yes, I get stressed about money. See, that’s the problem with being a serial entrepreneur. I get one business up, running and profitable, then I start another one. It’s not unlike someone being shocked that they are pregnant and completely appalled like “How could this have happened again?”
“You can take vacation whenever you want, and as much as you want!”
Riiiiiight. Yes, I can certainly assign myself 15 weeks of vacation per year. See, there are two parts to a vacation: the scheduling of the vacation, then the *taking* of the vacation. Anyone can schedule a vacation, but really, it’s the actual taking of the vacation that is the most important part. For employees, a vacation involves figuring out how to set an email “Out of Office” rule and updating the greeting on your voicemail, both of which defer all your responsibilities to another colleague who has taken your responsibilities for you while you are gone.
For an entrepreneur, not so much. See, I liken businesses to babies. When you leave baby to go on vacation, you have to hire someone to take care of it, explain every minute detail about the baby to the caregiver, leave it enough money and food and supplies, draft up a list of phone numbers and ways to reach you, then call to check in on it every two hours while you are gone. That’s not a fantastic way to take a vacation. There certainly isn’t any “let’s disappear for a month without our cell phones” in my immediate future.
“It’s so cool that you have people working for you!”
Yes, it is very cool. I am fortunate to have been blessed with some of the best teammates. What they do for me makes me want to do more for them, every day. However, having employees, as cool as it may be, can be overwhelming and a great responsibility. I am not one of those detached employers, and I get attached easily. This can make things messy and complicated.
So, given all of the above, you might ask “Why are you an entrepreneur?” and my answer is simple. Every day, I wake up to be able to serve and help people. This, and this alone, is the fuel in my tank, the sun in my sky, and the source of my drive. It far outweighs the “negatives” above. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
And sometimes, I even get paid for it.