Don’t let anyone fool you.
The beginnings of any startup are painful.
If the rewards for business success were astounding, nobody would endure the long hours, the time away from family, the confusion and rejection that comes in the very beginning stages of a startup.
I’ve known many people that come to me with stars in their eyes about how they’re going to lasso the moon with their can’t fail business.
Within five years, most of these businesses have gone under.
The chances of business success are extremely rare.
Then why do so many people hang up a shingle each and every day?
Why do so many take money out of their nest egg retirement to roll the dice on what could most certainly be financial Armageddon?
I can’t speak for most people, but I can speak for myself.
I had met this beautiful las named Angel. We dated for a few short months, and then I asked her to marry me.
In December 1999, Angel & I took a trip to Hawaii, and I read the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad.
I was fascinated with the idea of owning a business. The book made it seem so easy.
Haha. The books always make business opportunities seem easy.
I don’t think that easy is the correct word. The correct word is simple.
Business, in many regards, is very simple. However, it is not easy.
Why isn’t it easy?
I think the main reason business isn’t easy is because business is an exercise in continual chaos.
Just as you think you have something figured out, something comes from out of the left field, and you have to adapt and adjust.
I came back from my Hawaiian trip with fire in my belly. I wanted to be a business owner. Then a few months later, I was looking at a bulletin board in Nelson Hall at NC State University.
Somebody was selling a commercial cleaning business.
I did my due diligence, and it looked like a fantastic opportunity.
In August of 2000, I finalized the sale of A-1 Cleaning and became a successful business owner.
It was wonderful. My wife and I were making great money for college students. Every night we would go to different offices and clean the offices.
I still have very pleasant memories of cleaning toilets, vacuuming floors, and emptying garbage cans.
I was hooked on business. I absolutely loved it.
I finished my accounting world and got a real job.
What a disaster! Once I had tasted life in the business world, I had become forever tainted.
Try as I might, I could not be a good employee.
I ended up being stuck in a cubicle, pushing papers and looking at tiny numbers.
I’m not sure why I thought getting a real job was an acceptable path for me.
I can’t think of a more limiting career path as working for someone else.
I recognize that’s a biased statement.
I also recognize that business ownership is not the right path for everyone.
But it definitely was the best path for me. There is no way I would have had the fulfilling life I have if I had tried to make it in the job world.
Perish the thought.
Business is not easy for a couple of reasons.
In the beginning, there is not the safety net of the nine to five job world. There is no benefits package.
At the beginning, for a lot of people, there is no paycheck.
Lack of money is one of the biggest reasons business is hard in the beginning.
However, if you do good work, and people like the work you do, I think it is fairly easy to succeed as a freelancer business.
I make a distinction here with a freelancer business.
A freelancer is, in essence, an outsourced employee.
Freelancers fill a unique need in the marketplace.
Many businesses don’t need a full-time employee to fulfill a position in their business.
It often is cheaper and a better fit to outsource certain functions of a business.
If a freelancer is good at their work, they build a reputation, and then they get more work.
Which is wonderful until the freelancer gets to a point where they are at maximum capacity.
When that happens, the freelancer has two options:
- Option 1 – quit growing
- Option 2 – continue growing
Option 1 could be a really good option. For three years, that was the option I took. It was wonderful.
I had plenty of money. I didn’t have any employees. I had lots of flexibility. I had built a good freelancer business.
However, the downside of this business is if something happens to the freelancer, all money stops flowing in.
That is when good insurance becomes very valuable. Insurance is quite possibly the only way to mitigate the risk that a freelancer takes with their livelihood.
Option 2 is where things become difficult. In order to continue to grow the business, everything must change.
The change doesn’t necessarily have to be done overnight. However, the business will be limited until the appropriate changes are made.
Why must the business change?
The freelancer will work himself to death if he continues to grow.
At some point, it becomes physically impossible to do any more work.
Change is something many people avoid.
It’s uncomfortable. It’s painful. It’s risky. Money is lost.
However, it’s the only way to true freedom.