Why Am I Doing This?
Before I go into all the reasons for beginning this blog, I think I should probably introduce myself. Aside from my name, you don’t really know anything about me. I’ve decided to spend the first post talking about my least favorite subject…..me.
As I mention in my bio, I am an enthusiastic entrepreneur. But what does that mean, exactly? I love business, specifically small business. Why? There is so much to be excited about. Did you know that nearly 70% of new jobs created came from small businesses? Nearly 60 MILLION people are employed by small businesses…that’s almost 50% of all U.S. employees! What an incredible thing to be a part of.
I was introduced to the world of entrepreneurship as a young boy. My father was working for a cement company in Arizona and going to college part time. While taking a class on business, he was given an assignment to pick a business and write about it. He had a friend who owned his own company and so he asked if he could work for him for a week and learn enough to write his paper. The rest, as they say, is history. My father was so impressed with the business model that he contacted the headquarters and took a franchise in Detroit Michigan. I began working for my dad at the tender age of 8 years old on weekends and during the summer.
One day when I was about 15 or 16, my father called our family together and announced he was going to retire! What? I was so confused. He was only in his mid 40’s and I thought WAY too young to retire. He soon clarified: he told us that he wanted to retire at SOME point and wanted to know which one of us kids was interested in the business. Owning a business is hard work. My dad spent a lot of time building something that he could leave to his kids. My siblings saw the work that he put in and hard passed. I, on the other hand, saw the wonderful lifestyle that we enjoyed and the fact that he reported only to himself. I was in 100%. From that moment on, I began my journey towards owning my own business. After nearly a decade of training and going to school myself to earn my business degree, my wife and I finally bought the business from him and began the first chapter in our business life.
The Only Easy Day Is Yesterday
I can’t tell you how many times I have been told how lucky I am to be able to take off as much time as I want. Of course, when I was a kid that was the very thing that attracted me to business ownership in the first place. The reality is quite different. For those of you reading this who own (or have owned) your own business you know what I’m talking about. You never truly shut off…even when you’re not physically at work. It is an ever-present member of the family that constantly needs attention. You constantly worry about cash flow, employees, customers…the list never ends. There have been many, many nights when sleep wouldn’t come because I just couldn’t shut my brain down. I’ve learned to keep a pen and paper handy next to the bed since (unfortunately) my best insights seem to come at 3 a.m. Anyway, while you might get to take physical time away from the job, you never truly leave. Don’t get me wrong…I’m not complaining but its not all the bed of roses that many think. I guess it’s human nature to think the grass is greener on the other side of the road. Still, the greatest attraction to being your own boss is that you are your own boss! And apparently I’m not alone. 70% of business owners ranked their job happiness at least 5 out of 10 or better, with 53% ranking their happiness 9 out of 10. There’s much to be said about being the master of your own destiny (or demise)!
Once you get a taste for being able to call the shots, its not easy to go back. For most people, its a one way street after that. As I began my career, while still working for my dad, I got measured doses of the intoxicating elixir it is to be “in charge.” I was given enough rope to hang myself and I often came close to utter disaster as I tried to run a multi-million dollar enterprise with hardly any experience. I have to give a hearty thank you to my fellow team mates who put up with my many ill-conceived, ill-timed and often just plain awful ideas and methods as I learned my business lessons the hard way…by trial and error. I was fortunate: I had a built in safety net as my dad didn’t let me stray too far off the path. As I look back now with my 20/20 hindsight, I am still in awe that my dad let me stray as far as he did. When I eventually owned the business completely, I never gave any of my managers as much leeway as he gave me. I’m not sure if that was poor leadership on my part or incredible leadership on his. Regardless, it was an important learning time for me and luckily I fully realized it and tried hard to internalize every lesson I was taught.
So, I return to the beginning of this post. What am I doing here? That business that I was so fortunate to be involved in as a result of the leap-of-faith that my parents decided to take when I was young was just the beginning for me. I’ve had the privilege to be involved in numerous other ventures while I was involved with the family business and after as well. Each new venture has taught me some valuable lessons. Some of them were very costly.
I have had my successes…and my failures. Life is filled with ups and downs and I’ve always believed that how you react to any given situation is a sign of character. I don’t know who said it but a favorite quote of mine is “challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” I’d love to say I’ve always had that happy attitude but that wouldn’t be accurate. But that is another story for another time. I look forward to our time together and hope that you get as much out of this as I will. Time will tell.