You might be an entrepreneur if…you keep working on your business despite everyone around you telling you it’s a failure and you should just get a real job.
“Have you ever thought about just shutting everything down and going and working for someone else?”
That’s the way people usually phrase it. Oh they mean well, but they don’t understand. I heard a piece on Marketplace the other day about Howard Shultz, CEO of Starbucks that struck to the heart of it.
The relevant part was this:
…in 1986 with my wife pregnant with our first child, her father asked to come over and see me and he went for a walk and this is in the early stages of the kernel of the idea and I was not drawing a salary and we were really struggling, and we were trying to raise money and having a hard time. And we were going for a walk and he said let’s sit down. We sat down on a park bench and he said to me with my daughter seven-eight months pregnant and she working and you not bringing in a salary I want to ask you to do something and that is to give up this dream and hobby and get a job. And I remember I started to cry because I was so embarrassed. But I couldn’t do it.
And that was a moment where I remember walking back where I just had this conversation with myself saying what am I going to do, and I felt so certainly personally responsible for everything he said and I couldn’t disagree with anything but I could not give up this dream. And walking back I said to him you know I heard everything you said and I’m highly respectful of it but you’re just going to have to trust me that everything is going to work out; I can’t give this up.
That sums up in so many ways how I have felt on so many occasions. I’ve had people tell me it’s my responsibility to give up, to get a real job so that my wife isn’t supporting us. What makes it hard is that I know they’re right, and yet there’s something inside of me that’s also telling me that I’m on the right path, that this is going to work out at some point.
For better or for worse, I can’t give up on my dream. It would be like running a marathon and in sight of the finish line stopping, saying “You know, I’m close enough, let’s just call it a day” and then walking to the sideline and drinking a gallon of water and eating a steak. The principal difference is that I’m not sure where the finish line is, and everybody around me believes there is no finish line at all and that I’m running crazily with no end in sight.
Maybe there is something that could happen that would make me give it up. I don’t have any kids, but if my wife got pregnant that would complicate things. If I had a bad accident that would be a challenge. If the economy fell hard and nobody wanted websites any more that could change things. But for the time being I still feel like all the elements are there for success, I just need to figure some things out and it will come together. But just quit because I’m not making enough money to pay myself? Never. But it’s not because I’m ambitious, motivated, or greedy. There is simply a drive inside me and I’m afraid that if I quit and got a job working for a large beauracracy that drive might be suffocated, and without it something inside me would die, and when I think about it then not drawing a salary for a time doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.Liked it? Share it!
That’s a tough one. At least you’re doing this as a young man. I’m in my mid-forties and with a stay-at-home-wife and six kids and a mortgage I just keep hanging onto that day job and doing a piss-poor job of the thing that really gets me going in the evenings and weekends.
I’d like to find funding and am convinced that in six months of running this business full time I would have the cash flow that I need to sustain the business and the family. But I just cannot see clearly enough to get through those six months without the paycheck.
I’ve the sweetest mass customization business concept for a fine crafted outdoors industry product and it basically sits on the shelf (and constantly stuck in my head).
I can understand where you are at the moment. There is usually a defining moment in every man’s life where he has to choose which road to take. Dreams or reality, steady income verses maybe someday, big business verses broke.
Before I took over this design company in 1997, I was a stock broker for Smith Barney. I had been in sales for years and in and out of business. Unlike you I had 4 of my 9 children before I was 24 and really had no choice but to put food on the table. When I first started my training as a broker I would be downtown every day from 7:30 to 5:00 learning about the equity markets and then to pick up the slack, I took a job trhowing freight at Smith’s from 10:30 PM to 6:30 AM for $13.00/hr. So I was a stock boy in the day with a suit and then a stock boy at night with an apron and knee pads. I recall one night being dead tired, filling the soup aisle and listening to a group called “Rat” on the loud speaker. Needless to say there were moments when i wondered why I was there and then how long would I have to keep it up.
I am sure that if you are fortunate enough to have children, you will make a wise choice to provide for your family. Until then, you keep showing up everyday and managing your operation with your intellect and instinct. You should however be so grateful for a great gal who shares your vision and is showing that support of you everyday.
Good luck and don’t beleive the guy who says you should roll up the business and walk away. That guy is working for someone that is right now trying to figure out how to screw him out of his retirement or lay him off to hire a less expensive college grad.
Security comes from writing the rule book yourself. Keep writing!