It’s been 7 years since I quit my full time job. I wasn’t planning on leaving the corporate world for good. I just couldn’t stand the job I had. It was 35 miles each way, in heavy southern California traffic. In order to keep some semblance of sanity, I left for work at 5:15AM to get there by 6AM. Slept in the car until 8AM. And then sat through a 1.5 hour commute home.
I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do, and absolutely nothing interested me on job boards. I supported myself by selling on eBay, being a TV/movie extra, and transcribing. Feeling the pressure from friends and family asking me when I was going to get a job, I impulsively decided that I would become an Esthetician. The very next day I signed up for an expensive Skin Care program ($6000+) and wasted the next few months of my life. It was fun, but utterly useless. If I had just spent one extra day considering whether I would really enjoy giving facials to strangers all day long, I would have quickly realized how much I would hate it.
Through serendipity (a failed women’s website), Greg and Will approached me to join them on their Killer Aces Media venture. I fondly remember the initial meeting between the three of us, at Ocean Star, discussing what was to become the next few (and counting) years of our lives.
It’s been almost 4 years and while I wouldn’t trade it for anything, I certainly feel like there was a lot about the entrepreneurship lifestyle that I hadn’t anticipated. There’s definitely extreme pros and cons that I think only a small personality factor will tip the scale for anyone.
Flexibility vs. Paid Vacations
Wow do I miss paid vacations. The thing about having your own business — even those who don’t have much responsibilities anymore on a day-to-day level or those who have passive income — if you’re not working, you’re losing money. Your time is most definitely your money. Instead of going on vacation, you could be planning out growth and expansion. Instead of watching TV, exercising, spending time with family, reading, learning a new hobby, etc., you could be networking and building, checking out the latest widget or service that can cut costs or raise revenue, reading industry news and attending conferences. The opportunity costs for your leisure time is always great.
But then again, I despised having to be at my desk for specified hours for no reason. I hated feeling like I was wasting my time, wasting away, sitting in a cubicle with nothing stimulating. I felt like I was getting dumber every single day. The flexibility in schedule allows me to get things done when I need to, and have my own time when I need that.
Forecasting Stress vs. Bottom Line Ignorance
There is no rest for the weary when you’re running a business. No matter what benchmarks you hit, a higher, further one is right there waiting. You make money, you invest to make more. And during the investing period, you’re likely losing money, until you make money, and then you invest again.
When we first started, our goal was to see if we can make any money. Then we wanted to see if we could make enough to pay ourselves. And then it was whether we could make enough to pay for a staff. It’s neverending, and it all revolves around the moving bottom line. And the consequence is always dire. There is no status quo for a business.
Not that there isn’t stress when you’re working for someone either. The company sending you biweekly paychecks could also go down in flames and lay people off at any time. You never have job security. But at least on a day to day level, you aren’t staring at cashflow reports, wondering how to make things better, wondering how long the cash will last, wondering how your decisions are going to affect your staff.
Mentoring vs. Menteed
Business owners can and should find mentors and industry leaders they can look to as an example and learn from. But it’s harder than just having a boss in the office every day. Being around and having access to higher ups is a big advantage a worker bee has. It’s more difficult to seek out people we can learn from on our own.
Business Discussions vs. Water Cooler Chats
Having co-workers to interact with on a daily basis has a lot of benefits. Those relationships are stronger than just meeting someone at an event or conference, or with vendors and other casual colleagues. You end up spending more time with these people than anyone else in your household. That creates quite a bond. The light hearted gossip and sharing during breaks and over lunch is something I miss dearly.
Of course, I have my work husbands, Greg and Will, to chat with every morning. But most of the time is spent (appropriately) talking shop and being serious. It’s different.
I know I’ve still got a lot of working years to go. Just like I couldn’t have imagined where I’d be just 4 years ago, there’s so much more for me to learn about business and my abilities. I look forward to every moment of expending more blood, sweat, and tears.