It’s easy to get caught up in the adrenaline rush of running your own business. I’ve felt it coursing through my veins since my first post in January. It was even titled “Just Jump Already” – a call to action for those perched on the cliff in need of a push.
There are many benefits to owning your own business: control of your schedule, a sense of empowerment, and of course the excitement of building something from the ground up. In the podcast I co-host, I’ve even mentioned my newfound ability to enjoy daytime movie matinees. You really can’t beat having a theater to yourself; being able to drop everything and go do that is exciting.
All of those things are exciting for sure, but do not, under any circumstance, mistake that with running a business being easy. I will tell you right now: it is NOT easy.
In a recent video shared on Facebook, Gary Vaynerchuk dispels the idea of the “overnight success.” If you’re not familiar with Gary, he is a famed entrepreneur and author. His drive and level of energy are unparalleled.
Before the fame, Gary helped grow the family business, Wine Library, exponentially by recording informative and entertaining videos delivered online back when the internet first became a real platform to reach the masses. Once this success became common knowledge, he was featured on television shows such as Conan O’Brien and Ellen. It was a modern day American Dream coming true.
To the casual bystander, this might seem like an overnight success. One day you’re more or less unheard of; the next you’re on national television. Sounds like something magnificent happened between those two days, almost as if it happened overnight.
In the video, Gary goes on to say he was inundated with emails of congratulations, including those commenting on how lucky he was. His response to each to each and every one of those emails was the same: it was not luck. It was the result of hard work and sacrifice – prioritizing the business over fun and relaxation. He points out that you will not find a single one of those videos where he is younger than 30 years old. From high school up until that point, he was learning the business and working his tail off.
This is what it means to run a business. A job is somewhere you get paid to go to. A business is an investment of your soul. I’ve talked about the benefits, but here are some of the real costs of doing business:
Consistency – working for someone else meant a steady paycheck. All you had to do is make it to that next payday and the cash magically rained down on you. Running a business means not knowing how much money will come in next month, or even next week. Sometimes it means chasing people down for money they already agreed to pay you.
Defined Hours – working at a normal job means some kind of expectation of when you will start the day and when you get to go home. Owning a business means you’re ALWAYS on the clock, whether that’s answering emails, researching some new tactic, or getting ready for the next day. It’s always going to be on your mind
I haven’t talked about it much on the blog. But when I was getting started freelancing on my own clients before I quit my job, I was going nonstop. During tax season, I would work 8AM to 8PM at my normal job; then I’d get home and work on my own clients until midnight or 1AM. That was 6 days a week. Sunday I usually had the luxury of working only 6 or 8 hours. My wife barely saw me for 3 straight months. You don’t worry about something like that at a normal job.
Becoming Comfortable with Failure – as I said, when you’re running a business it’s always on your mind; coming up with new ideas to implement, or new products to pitch, is both energizing and necessary to success. That being said, not all ideas are created equal. I guarantee you not all of them will work, no matter how good they sound in your head. Some of these lesser ideas will subside with a good night’s sleep; others can only be resolved by trial and error. Get used to those words, especially the error part.
At your old job, if a new idea fell through it was no big deal. You still got paid on Thursday. In your own business, it can mean losing a potential client whose cash you desperately needed.
Conclusion: It’s not my goal to scare anyone off. If you’re dreaming of starting your own business, I want you to follow that dream. What I don’t want is for you to think everything is going to magically work itself out. You’re the one who has to work it out every step of the way and that often means making sacrifice.
Starting my own business has been a thrilling experience. Now that it has built up a little momentum, I can reap some benefits, but for every one of those discount movie gems, there was a night where I sacrificed something else. Just like the seemingly endless vacation photos you see on Facebook, they only tell half the story – reality will always have both ups and downs.
Bryan is a recent cliff jumper looking forward to running a firm his own way. He aims to catalog his experiences here for future generations of cliff jumpers to learn from. Starting in January 2015, he will also be the Visiting Instructor in Accounting at Assumption College located in Worcester, MA. Bryan is also the co-host of a new podcast, Ctrl Alterego, which follows the saga of two new businesses in different stages of development. He has joined forces with Barrett Young of The Green Abacus for this adventure. Follow along atwww.ctrlalterego.com.