Having a job and being an Entrepreneur
There is a major misconception about being an entrepreneur. Many would-be entrepreneurs believe that in order to start or have your own business that you must quit your job. This is not true at all. Quite often having both when you are starting out can be less stressful and less pressure on the would-be entrepreneur. It allows you to be more selective in your business dealings, by removing the burden of having to quickly make enough money to sustain your business and your livelihood. If you are a person who operates heavily on the side of caution having no income can be extremely stressful. This stress will show up in your decision-making and savvy customers will see it from a mile away. I’ve seen entrepreneurs practically give away the baby, the bath water and the baby food, in order to make a sale just to cover a single bill. When you operate like this you lose all negotiation power, potential profit and you might as well start reaching for the “Going out of Business” sign.
The entrepreneurial spirit is one of success and adding value. It doesn’t matter whether the person is working a job, have their own business or both. Because a sense of excellence is not a switch that is turned off and on, entrepreneurs can’t help themselves when it comes to looking for ways to add value to the company and to the customer. It’s very important that you take a personal assessment before you start your business. Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur? It’s a simple life, but not an easy one if you need security and guarantees. If you’re not looking for ways to improve your current work place I would strongly suggest that you think long and hard before you consider stepping out on your own or doing a business part-time. If you find that you’re not doing this, then I suggest that you do starting now.
There is an old scripture that states that you will never be given your own until you learn to take care of another man’s first. This process allows you to develop a habit of serving. If you don’t serve your customers and employees the customers won’t vote for you to stay in business by giving you their money and your good employees won’t be with you for very long. Serving someone does not mean that you are less than the person you are serving. In fact it means the exact opposite. The one who is server is in the position of authority and power. How? You can’t serve someone unless you have something to give. In the case of the customer, they need what you are providing. Your employee needs the job. You also provide the resources for them to perform that job effectively. A person that I was mentoring told me that he could not accept the fact that I was serving him. He was thinking that it meant I was beneath him. I asked him this simple question. “Are you giving to me or am I giving to you?” You cannot serve unless you have something to give. You can’t serve me dinner unless you have food. This is another great quote that says “The greatest among you will be your servant.” (Matt. 26:11) Who serves more customers, Wal-Mart or your local Mom and Pop Shop?
As a person transitions from employee, to entrepreneur, and sometimes back to employee, they should always leave good impression. I have a saying that goes like this “It’s not the steps you take that measures your success, but the impressions you leave behind.” (Dewong Lucas, Copyright 2009, so if you copy it, copy it right.) They should have performed their job so well that it would-be difficult to find someone to replace them. The relationship should be so great that if the entrepreneur chose to go back, the company would welcome them with open arms. With that being said, should you quit your job and start your business? That depends. On what? It depends on you and your situation. The great thing about being successful and being an entrepreneur is that everyone’s journey is different. My journey is different from yours and yours is different from your neighbor’s. My finish line is different from yours and the things I will see, and experience along the way will be different from yours. Can you learn from my or someone else’s process? Of course. Should you try to duplicate our process? No.
What are some reasons why some entrepreneurs choose not to leave their job? One reason is they love what they do, they love the people and the place they work. Take the case of a multi-million dollar lottery winner who chooses to keep working even though they have enough money to never have to work again. They didn’t work there only for the money. You might say, “They’re not entrepreneurs.” and you would-be correct. The point is that every entrepreneur does not start a company just to be their own boss. Some businesses are started to tryout an idea, some to supplement an income, and some are started because they want to replace one of the household incomes to allow one parent to stay home. The reasons are many.
One major point I want to emphasis is the entrepreneurial mindset. Regardless if you are working for yourself in your own business, or working for someone, you should work like it belongs to you. Take ownership of what you are responsible for and look for places you can help, even if it’s “Not your job”. It is sad to hear a person constantly complaining about how bad the boss is, how terrible the company is, how little they get paid, and how much they hate their job. Are there some terrible bosses and companies to work for? Absolutely. Remember before anyone starts working with any company there is an agreement on the work to be done and the money to be paid. If either party does not fulfill their part of the agreement then the contract is broken. The company has the right to dismiss you and you have the right to leave the company. In an environment where there is an “immature” boss, it requires a strong mental toughness that most entrepreneurs have.
I’ve been in many circles with people having their first experience of being entrepreneur and they start hearing other entrepreneurs saying things like “Working for someone else is the worst thing that could every happen to you.” Really? The worse thing? If that’s true, are they planning on someday being large enough to have employees? Or will they be doing everything themselves. No one makes it alone. There is always someone else helping. Remember “One person can make a wheel, but it take many people to make a car.” Would you rather travel in a wheel or in a car? Get rid of the negative thoughts about having job. Negative thoughts like the word job means “Journey Of the Broke.”, “Just Over Broke”, and so on. I like to use the acronym JOB to mean “Just observing Business“. I’ve personally had my own businesses since my early twenties. The two jobs I did have prior to starting my first business where great learning environments. I learned from the owner of the first company that you don’t have to be an expert in the business to start it. You must understand how business works and then you can hire those who know “How” to do the work. So I hired the “How” people to do the work while I maintained the Why position. I talk more about the 4 types of people in detail in“Entrepreneurial Secrets #17”. While on the second job I learned how to build and manage teams of people. Both valuable skills I used while running my businesses. Because the entrepreneurial bug had bitten me so deep I had to start my own company. For those who work where everything is great but you still feel like a lion in a cage; there is a recommended transition process for you. The exact process depends on your current life situation. Are you single or married? Do you have any children? Does your spouse support what you are doing? Do you have any savings? The list goes on. In my opinion, a job is a place where you can learn how business works and get paid at the same time. That sounds like a sweet deal to me.
Next the Method:
The method in which you can get this done has two parts: Balance and Respect. Balance is the first component to having a job while being an entrepreneur. It is very important to keep your life in balance. That means that in order to maintain a healthy you, it is necessary to have various things present in your life. For me it’s my faith, family, health, friends and business. The last two sometimes change places depending on the situation. For you the list may be different. Your list may include your job, hobbies, or music. The list is up to you, just make sure you have one. This is the first step to maintaining balance. By maintaining balance family members feel good about helping you succeed. They feel important in your life and in return what’s important to you becomes important to them. Remember, your greatest cheerleaders, or your greatest critics will be the people closes to you. Which one they will be is determined by how they are treated. Cheerleaders and fans feel like they’re apart of the team, critics feel like spectators watching the wrong sport.
If you’re thinking about starting a business while working, I think it is a very wise move if you are able to do it. It’ll require discipline to do what’s necessary to maintain the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual balance. It will require you to give up some things and exchange others. Avoid the false expectations of how quickly it’s going to happen. Some things are resource dependent. The more resources (people, money, effort, etc.), the soon it will happen. Some things are time dependent. It doesn’t matter how many resources you throw at it, it’s not going to happen any sooner. An example of time dependence is pregnancy. It doesn’t matter how many women you put together the baby still won’t be fully developed until 9 months. So, it will take as long as it will take. Don’t stress. The great thing about being an entrepreneur is that most things are resource dependent. The sooner you take action the sooner you will see things happen.
The next step is to schedule your time. I know some of you just pushed the down button on the elevator and checked out. Scheduling is very, very, very important. If you don’t schedule your time for the important things, it will be taken up by the unimportant things. Here is an example of good scheduling and sticking to it. Let’s say you scheduled 30 minutes of reading and someone called you to do something or just to talk on the phone. You can simply say “I have a 30 minute meeting I need to get to and I can get back with you afterwards”. You don’t have to tell them it’s a meeting with yourself. Scheduling your time also allows you to get enough rest so you are not too tired from your business to perform your tasks at work. There’s lots of information available about the benefits of good health and resting. Scheduling also relieves pressure, stress and worry. It allows you to get a high level view of everything you want to get done. This reduces them in size and they don’t feel so overwhelming. You can then decide what’s important and what’s not. What to spend your time on and what not to.
The second component is respect. As entrepreneurs we must have respect for the place we work and the people we work for. This means not using the time they pay you to do their work, doing things for your business. This also applies to using their supplies for your business. There are exceptions to this rule. There are some employers that want you to succeed in your own business. They believe that if you’re in business for yourself you have an unlimited possibility to help yourself and your family. I know some of you are saying “Where are those bosses?” I’ve personally helped employees start their own businesses. Does that seem crazy? Let’s see. I help an employee, who I’ve trained, start their own company in the same industry I’m in. They come back to me needing supplies and consulting which they are willing to pay me for. They are able to reach customers that I can’t. Their business grows and my business grows as result of their growth. Even if I never see them again, they’re able to better provide for their family. Their standard of living increases and they also are now providing jobs for others. What’s wrong with that process? This is what I refer to in my “Fighting the B.E.A.R.” training as cultivating the cubs. Helping new businesses grow to become allies and not enemies. An illusion that some entrepreneurs get lost in is scarcity. They believe that there is not enough customers so they feel they have to bite the heads off and spit down the necks of their competitors in order to succeed in business. How many McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King Restaurants have you seen near each other? Do you think that one of them will say “I think I should close because the other guys has all the customers.”? They understand in a free market no one business will ever have all the customers. For those who are fortunate enough to have a job where your boss encourages your success, don’t every abuse it nor take it for granted. But, by all means take advantage. This is the perfect storm for maximum success. The only better situation would-be if you’re a teenager living with your parents and you have an opportunity to start a business. Minimum risk with unlimited rewards.-
One final word. Most things in life that have value (freedom, joy, peace of mind), comes with a price. While you’re paying your price to start and grow your business, remember the reasons you started it. Hopefully adding value to the lives of your customers is one of those reasons. Working a Job and having a business doesn’t have to be an all or none proposition. You can have a job, run your business and do them both well. I wish you great success in your business and in life.
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Dewong Lucas, Sr.