I am an entrepreneur and I LOVE it (well, mostly ;-) ), BUT, I did not directly choose to be one to start with.
Let’s back up a bit here first …
Since I was very young, I was always doing all kinds of things to make money. My parents divorced when I was very young and I lived with my mother who did not have a lot, so, I had to make my own plans to buy all the cool toys ;-) Many involved working hard at jobs, others I started with work, then recruited friends to help me, and made more money from it.
When I moved to live with my dad, the same thing continued and I was always tinkering with something, and later in school, did 2 years working as a waiter as well.
Even when I left school, I was always in a job and doing something on the side.
I got married, had 2 kids, and was always telling myself the same story so many people are telling themselves … I have the responsibilities of a family and going into my own business is very risky and not worth it for the sake of my wife and kids.
Then at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009, the best possible thing imaginable happened … The whole world’s economy went to shit!
I got “made redundant” from my cushy corporate job. I was 37 years old, 2 kids in school, living in the United Kingdom on a work visa, and suddenly I had no job, and 28 days to leave the country or I would be considered to be there illegally.
We packed up our whole life and moved back to South Africa, where we had not lived for over 10 years. Neither of my children spoke Afrikaans, which is a compulsory language in school.
Before we even got back, I started looking for work, but, I was also tinkering with my own SaaS (Software as a Service).
Thankfully, because of the economy being in the toilet, I could not find any work and was forced to focus on my SaaS.
Because I worked for the big corporate company in the UK for 6 years, I got a reasonable severance package which we could live on for a year.
We paid for the kids' school and a rental house for a year in advance, as well as bought a reasonable 2nd hand car cash, to get around in. So at least school, home, and car were sorted, for a year at least.
We still had to eat, pay utilities, etc, and if we worked really carefully with the money that was left, we would last about a year with no additional money coming in at all.
This was April 2009.
Early July 2009 my SaaS finally launched and all the massive hard work culminated in a WHOPPING $7 of revenue for that month.
Build it and they will come is the biggest bullshit story ever told by anyone! ESPECIALLY on the Internet!
This is now where I get to why exactly entrepreneurship is NOT for everyone.
It took around 2 years from the time I launched my business to get to the point where I was earning around the same money as I was in my cushy corporate job.
That was 2 years of hell where there were many days, weeks and even months when we had no idea if we would be able to even buy food to eat for us and our children.
The stress during those 2 years put a massive strain on our marriage, me personally, as well as our children who had to keep hearing … We’re sorry, but there is no money for you to buy that, or go to that school function, or go out with your friends, etc, etc, etc.
By mid-2011 the business, and we personally were doing well. We had a few employees, and the business was growing.
At this point, most people would think that you made it and it is smooth sailing from there.
Yeah, don’t we all WISH!
Let’s look at some of the wonderful things you need to do and think about …
- Business registration
- Tax registration for the business
- Bank accounts for the business
- If you’re working online, a way to get money from your customers
- You’re now responsible not just for your own income, but, the income and livelihood of your employees and their families
- Quarterly provisional tax filings and payments
- Monthly payroll and payroll taxes
- Yearly tax filings for your business and yourself, as well as providing the proper paperwork for your employees to be able to file their own yearly tax returns
- Buying equipment for you and your employees to use for the business
- Detailed accounting and record keeping of everything that comes in and goes out
- This list goes on and on and on and ON …
Not scared yet?
Ok, how about …
- Being sued by a customer, competitor, or someone out for a quick buck
- Losing a key employee to another company, or worse, to death. We lost our only accountant, who did EVERYTHING with our accounts, to a heart attack in 2012. With no knowledge transfer, and the shock of losing someone in our “family”, this was not only very tough to deal with, but, hard to recover from as a business
- Losing a key or a major customer, when you can least afford to of course!
- You have to sort your own medical aid
- You have to sort your own retirement
- You want a loan from a bank, a credit card, a mortgage, be prepared to provide more documentation that you have ever had to in your entire life!
- Don’t forget that there is NO guaranteed paycheck either!
Being an Entrepreneur has MASSIVE highs and MASSIVE lows, with a CRAP load of work 99% of the time.
There is virtually no glitz and glamour like so many people would let you believe. You swap a 40 hour corporate work week for an 80 plus hour work week, and especially in the beginning, for MUCH less pay than you got for 40 hours a week.
Personally, I cannot imagine not being an entrepreneur anymore. Through all the highs and lows, there is one thing you get from running your own company that you never truly get while working for someone else …
- Freedom to choose where you work
- Freedom to choose when you work
- Freedom to choose how much you do or do not work
Just be aware of the consequences and responsibilities that come with this freedom!
If you choose to go sit by the pool and drink beers 7 days a week, very soon you will be back looking for a job and playing by someone else’s rules.
I work my ass off. Most days I do 12 plus hours per day, and that includes weekends.
BUT, every so often I get to take the morning off and go have breakfast at the beach with my wife, or, take the day off in the middle of the week when everyone else is at work, and go to a big mall and just hang out with my wife for the day.
There are so many books and articles out there that spins entrepreneurship as the be all and end all of living. With this post, I just want people to realize that yes, it CAN be FANTASTIC, BUT, it’s a lot of HARD work and a LOT of stress that many just can’t handle.
Tell me your entrepreneur story in the comments!