Ever since I started my first business, I dreamed of the day I could work for myself full time.
You hear it in ads all the time; The main selling point of all the Tai Lopez knockoff courses. That you can “Start your own Six Figure Business” and “Escape the dreaded, soul draining 9-5 job.” I really have to admit, it’s a great slogan to use.
I’ve worked more jobs in the past five years than most people have their entire lives. From flipping hamburgers, to stocking shelves, to selling cars, to repairing cars, it’s safe to say I’ve seen a lot of what the American workforce has to offer. Most of the jobs I worked at were tolerable; a few not so much.
But I’m well aware that there are hundreds of jobs in the world that are much worse than the few I’ve worked. Take the medical field for example. Doctors, nurses, and other caregivers work hours upon hours, rarely getting a day off (or even a holiday to spend with their family). Construction workers have to abuse their bodies, lifting heavy things and pushing themselves to meet deadlines. The list of grueling labor goes on and on.
So when someone comes along and says “Hey, why don’t you start your own business, and work for yourself full time? You can be your own boss, set your own working hours, and if your business is online, you can work from anywhere!”, it almost sounds too good to be true.
Like most get-rich-quick schemes, the good majority of that is true. But for my dedicated entrepreneurs reading this, I want to delve more into my experience with self employment, to give you a better understanding of what it really means to become your own boss.
Last year my companies took off more quickly than I could have imagined. I went from designing one website every two months, to having three web design projects at one time. With the collaborative efforts of my partners, we were signing on new clients left and right.
At the time, I was still working a part time job. Nothing too crazy, just going in a few hours a week to stock shelves, run a cash register, and do other odd jobs. But as my workload for my business grew, I started having to call out of work more and more often. Deadlines ran tight, and I just could not afford to go into work most nights.
One day, as I was debating whether to call out of work or pull an all-nighter when I got home, the realization came to me. I was finally here. I had successfully scaled up my business to the point I could pay myself a living salary, and become my own boss. I can remember getting a huge smile on my face in that moment. It was as if I was able to look back in time, and tell my younger self we had finally made it.
Ironic enough, the day I planned on telling my manager I was putting in my two weeks, he pulled me into his office before I even clocked in. He sat me down, and explained he had been very appreciative of all the hard work I had been putting in, and it had not gone unnoticed. He offered me a promotion.
I sat there bewildered, at an unexpected crossroads in my life. On one hand, I had my business that I had been growing over the last five years. Like most start-ups, the income was up and down, but had grown to a steady enough profit that I could pay my bills (unless we had a bad month). But on the other hand, I had stability. A pay raise, set hours, and a chance to move up the corporate ladder into a management position.
What would you have done?
That night I weighed the pros and cons over and over again. I knew for a fact I wanted my own business; it’s been my literal goal over the last few years, and I had come too far to give it all up now. But what if this is a sign? What if this is God’s way of telling me to give up and get a real job? The fact that this occurred on the day I planned to quit was too much of a convivence for my liking.
After careful consideration and reflection, I declined the promotion. My reasoning? I’m young, and life is too short to not take risks. Every successful company today, from Apple to Amazon, started with at least one person taking a risk.
With that, I set myself up a schedule, and got to work.
It was around the third or fourth week of working for myself, that I noticed something. The excitement from finally being able to be my own boss was immeasurable. However, the unseen drawbacks started to surface.
I was working longer hours than usual, even more than some of my friends working their full time jobs. I was always on the clock, solving client issues from dawn to dusk. I was getting up earlier for morning meetings, and staying up late to finish projects before passing out. And weekends? Forget about having time off.
I found myself feeling somewhat disappointed with my first self-employed month. There was this small portion of me that thought I would be farther along by now, in that I would be working less and relaxing more.
Then, the realization hit me. THIS is the Grind.
You know the movies about entrepreneurs, where in one scene they’re broke, but the next scene they’re driving a Ferrari? They always skip over showing the actual work, because it’s just not interesting. Would you want to watch a movie about a guy sitting at a computer cold calling all day? Me either.
This is the portion of entrepreneurship that is seldom showcased, but I feel deserves much more of the spotlight. It’s in these beginning stages, where you put in the most work, that forms the literal foundations of your journey. Everything you’re working towards, starts in this stage.
But it’s never talked about, because it’s neither fun nor interesting. And it’s here, where a lot of new entrepreneurs lose faith, and eventually give up. Be realistic; If I came to you in your current situation, and asked you to work double the hours you are working now, for half the pay, would you do it? Probably not.
What’s important to remember, is that while this stage can take a tole (It’s called the GRIND for a reason), this is not the endgame. You’re not leaving your job to work double the hours for the rest of your life. You’re putting in more work now, so you can work less later. It’s the vision of your end goal, that keeps you moving forward.
As I write this I’ve got two websites to deliver by Friday, which will take up a good portion of this evening and tomorrow. I will be exhausted, and there will be one or two moments where I lean back in my chair and think “Is this worth it?” But then I’ll think to the future. Of all the lives I’ll positively impact as my company grows. Of all the freedom I’ll have once I can hire more employees to take my workload. Of all the fun I can have and not have to worry about money.
And with that, I get back to the grind.