The Truth About Being an Entrepreneur
O.K. I have been denying this truth for quite some time. But do you really blame me? Our entire society is built upon the notion that in order to be super successful, you’ve got to work SUPER hard. And it isn’t enough to just work hard in any position, you’ve got to have the fancy desk job, with the 9–5, the benefits, and the prestige. Though it’s becoming more acceptable to branch out and do the whole self-employment thing, there are still some nay-sayers who frown at the notion of being self-employed; thinking it is a cop out to work for ourselves, choose our days off, and basically have siestas in our pyjamas between emails. Can you blame me for not wanting to admit that sometimes I actually do envy a 9–5 job? At the risk of affirming the scornful mutterings of “I told you so” by all of the soul-less full timers who just don’t seem to get it, I’ve got some venting to do..
Here is the truth, and the catalyst for this very entry: I found myself WIDE AWAKE at 6am so overcome with anxiety, panic, doubt, fear about my future and the decision to ditch my job and become self-employed…(The mind of an entrepreneur doesn’t have that fun pause button that many jobs do, ie: leaving your woes inside your office at work to be reunited the following day.) So naturally, I spent this sleepless time thinking about what was ‘next’, the steps I needed to take in order to get there, who might help me along the way, how I would market, make that deadline, or compete with that person who always seems to be so wildly successful at everything without even trying. Not to mention the steadfast bills that were starting to creep to uncomfortable heights.
I am the host of my own podcast. It sounds glamorous, but the start-up and pre-launch phases have been incredibly challenging and time consuming. I spent almost one full year drafting my business plan, reaching out to experts, curating a website, hiring a photographer, ordering equipment, choosing introduction music, a theme, a colour scheme, cover art, creating a decent recording studio, drafting questions, all while doing my absolute best to keep up with two other jobs, my health, as well as a social life. Talk about burn out.
After investing all of this time and energy, and researching how other successful entrepreneurs ‘made it,’ I realized I had a decision: continue to have my (metaphorical) hands in several baskets at once, or decide to really take a chance and focus all of my energy into my project. I discovered, there is no way we can do everything well, when we are trying to do everything period. Life doesn’t work that way. We can’t expect to give a portion of our attention to several endeavours at once, with successful outcomes all ‘round. So I took the chance. I really dove in and went for it. Months later, here I am.
Every time I move one millimetre in the direction of my visions, it feels as though I made the right decision. Alternatively, doubt is my worst enemy when things seem to be working against me. But just as with anything new, this requires exercising new thought patterns. For example, my old pattern: “If I am not where I want to be, it means I am not working hard enough. Thus I must take more shifts, exhaust myself, in order to fulfill my goals.” Versus the new pattern: “I have made the decision to do this, I am doing everything in my power to make it happen, and though it may not be as comfortable or familiar, I have to trust in my journey and the timing of my visions and keep going.” It sounds easy, but it isn’t.
I finally understand why people choose not to “go for it” why we, as a society, are reluctant to change our lifestyles, make bold decisions, take chances. We play it safe because who wants to deal with the doubt, the excessive amounts of tedious work, the risk-taking, the unbillable hours, the uncomfortableness in putting ourselves ‘out there.’ I won’t lie either, though I may look like I am a fearless trailblazer, there is not a single day that goes by where I don’t have just a smidge of “holy sh** did I make the right decision?”
The alternative, I’ve come to realize, is to fill my time with job or things I may not be as passionate about, but that keep me safe and secure. To suppress my creativity, fill my days with menial tasks, to make small-talk in a work environment in which I feign passion. Knowing what I now know, at this stage of my chosen path, I couldn’t choose this alternative even if I wanted to. It’s sort of like the Matrix: once you know the truth, you can’t just decide to then be ignorant and go back to carry on with your monotonous life. Can you? I suppose if you never try, you never know what you’re missing, but I just can’t seem to wrap my head around that.
Part of my podcast is to speak with individuals and dissect what attributes to their success not in terms of career goals per se, but what makes them successful at being CONTENT and FULFILLED. Because let’s face it, if you aren’t either of these things, what is the point? At the risk of sounding all happy hippie, I really want you to know that if you have an idea, a passion, a pursuit, a goal, a dream ANYTHING even if it means you stay at your current job, and pursue it part-time, here is your official summoning to do so. Seriously.
Also, if you’re going to be one of those people who are contented by the thought and notion of “someday” the least you can do is support those who are of the LET’S DO THIS mentality. Local start-up businesses, events that your colleagues are organizing and throwing, DIY projects, food-trucks, online offerings, even if these aren’t of direct interest or relevance to you. Show up. Buy their product. Send them words of encouragement. Promote their credentials to others. Get over your excuses: I’m too tired, I’m too busy, I don’t like __, I don’t have any money. Give a crap about the individuals who work their butts off to bring colour, audacity, and authenticity back into this world. We need them.
It’s hard to be an entrepreneur due to doubt and fear. Due to the fact that there are non-supporters who rain on parades all of the time. Due to the people who try something new, but nobody shows up. Due to society telling us what we “need” and how we should achieve it. This isn’t glamorous. It isn’t always fun, and I don’t necessarily hop out of bed each morning and throw a parade for myself because I quit my job to embark on something I love to do. There are lots of aspects of my work that I don’t love. But I reached a pivotal understanding and I couldn’t invest my energy or time in things that were draining me. I could no longer fake or force things that misaligned with my personal vision. There is nothing wrong with wanting to cultivate and live your best life. This doesn’t have to mean being a slave, sacrificing years of work in order to “later”set yourself up for freedom. It starts now. Wherever you are. How ever you can. This idea of putting in the work now, to be fulfilled in the future is ridiculous. Why does five, ten, twenty years from now matter more than the present moment? Why is the word “eventually” acceptable? I know I am getting a tad ahead of myself here, I have in fact, made plenty of sacrifices myself. But what if we were gone tomorrow? What would we regret not having done? Who would we wish we’d spent more time with? Most importantly, what would we want left behind as commemoration of our life? A song? A book? A painting? A story? A photo? Creativity is beautiful because it is immortal. Money will be spent. Dental benefits useless. Passion, art, a trademark of a life well lived, these are what will remain.
THIS, is what allows my eyes to finally become heavy, shut at the rising sun, and later wake with a refined attitude. Doubt fades. Fear retreats. I can do this. What ever it takes. Why? Because the alternative is choosing to treat my life and my offerings as if they hold no value, as if I’ll get a second chance. And this, to me, is the only consideration that ever seems impossible.