In Part 1 of this series, we learned entrepreneurship is not easy. In fact, it is usually really hard and takes long hours to be successful. When I started my training business, there were many days when I would leave the house at 6am and not get home until 7pm, including weekends.
During one particularly busy season, I remember coming home late one evening to see my toddler jumping up and down when I got home. He was so excited because he hadn’t seen me that day. While this sounds terrible, you need to know that it wasn’t everyday. Despite the long hours, in some ways I felt incredibly free.
I was free to:
- Create the job I wanted
- Be flexible with the hours I worked
- Build the life I wanted
Let’s explore each of these in a little more detail.
Freedom to Create The Job You Want
When you start a business, you have essentially created your own job. At first, it may not be your ideal job. You may be working long hours. Or you may be taking on tasks you hate because you don’t yet have the capacity to delegate them.
Despite these things, you are still the one in control of your job. You no longer have a boss who can walk in one day and decide you are no longer a good fit for the company. You know there is enough money in the bank to pay your salary this month or in months to come. And if not, you get to decide how to handle the situation. Not to say this is an easy situation, but at least it is not sprung on you the day before you are expecting a paycheck.
As your business grows, you have the freedom to change your job to better suit your goals. Some people design their business so it can eventually work without them and doesn’t need their position at all. As my training and consulting businesses grew, I focused on hiring and delegating for the jobs I didn’t want to do.
This allowed me to create new products and work with select clients. I didn’t want to keep the books, so I hired an accountant. I didn’t want to always be in the office during business hours, so I hired an office manager. I didn’t want to train or consult with every group, so I hired and equipped skilled facilitators to serve the majority of our clients.
Of course it didn’t always work perfectly. There were groups I had to work when we were short on staff. There were times when someone was on vacation and I would fill in. I didn’t mind this because for ninety percent of the time, I was getting to do the work I wanted and loved to do.
Freedom to Be Flexible With Your Hours
While this is starting to change, most jobs lock you into a typical set of hours. This could be your traditional 9 to 5 or some other block of time. Whatever it is, you are required to spend at least 40 hours of your week doing a specific task. Some jobs may offer the flexibility to work on other things that excite you, but most don’t.
Entrepreneurship allows you much more flexibility with the hours you work. If you want to take an afternoon to go watch your kid’s game or you want to take a couple of weeks to go explore around Base Camp at Mt. Everest, there is no one to tell you “no.” If you want to start work at 10am and finish at 2pm everyday, you can.
My ideal schedule involves a short nap after lunch to increase afternoon productivity and taking off around 4pm to workout. During periods of entrepreneurship, I have been pretty consistent with both of these. During times of working for someone else, they are much harder to implement. The nap usually gets cut and the workout is pushed back later in the day and becomes harder to fit in consistently.
It doesn’t always work out perfectly. When you start out and you are doing everything (though I recommend you build a team quickly), you will likely have less flexibility. And there are those days when you have to make sacrifices for a client or something goes wrong and you have to stay late.
However, most days are going to allow you the flexibility to build the schedule you want and do the work you want to do. And if it doesn’t now, as your business grows, you will have the option to hire and delegate to allow for this freedom. But, you have to be willing to take the jump and then put in the work to get there.
Freedom to Build the Life You Want
In the CO.STARTERS entrepreneurship class I facilitate, I have participants define what success looks like for them during the first class. We use a tool to help each person visualize what success looks like for them. Often we find that their success markers aren’t initially aligned with their current business design.
I encourage you to think about what success looks like for you. Is it starting a business that allows you and your family to travel for a month out of the year? Is it starting a business that provides 50 jobs and pulls families out of material poverty? Is it starting a business that can follow you no matter where you go? Is it starting a business that allows you to be more generous to the people around you? Whatever the case, you need to be sure the business you start will help you meet your goals.
Once you have your definition of success, then you can start to plan what your business looks like. Will it need to operate without you? Do you need to keep your expenses intentionally low to maximize profit? Should it be a seasonal business? Do you need close connections with the community? These questions will help you as you start your business, as well as help you make decisions on how to build the business as it grows.
Take some time during the next week to focus on your definition of success. What will it look like when you and your business have arrived? What hours will you work and what type of work will you be doing?
Once you have these answers, think through your business idea or current business and see if they match up. If not, what is something you can change to make them more aligned?
I Want to Help You
If you work through these questions and find yourself getting stuck or if you just don’t know where to begin, I want to help you build a business that helps you achieve your goals. If you need help, please reach out and I would love to help you get started.
In the final post in this series, I’ll explore how entrepreneurship can be used as a tool for social impact. I believe we have been created to improve the lives of others. As entrepreneurs, our businesses are unique resources to make a lasting impact.
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