Hey Aspiring Business owners:
I know you will feel all inspired listening to some commencement speech, some businessperson who has ‘made it’ or some Ted Talk espousing how rich they are.
What they don’t tell you – if you happen to have integrity and love what you do – is: You’ll be married to your job, so relationships in any normal sense of the word are a no-go. A client just told me, “I’m going all in on this endeavor, but I probably won’t see my kids grow up.” It’s the chicken or the egg. Your kids are priority, but you need to work to ensure you can afford their college education. Life isn’t fair, and you have to choose one path or another. All the “life balance” talk is something anyone who works struggles with. And I agree, the struggle is hard for anyone across the board. But I have to say, when you’re a business owner and you’re responsible for an employee being able to make a mortgage payment, the “work/life balance” is something that is unachievable in my mind. My philosophy is one that says, “If you have a Plan B it’s not going to work. You have to work the hardest, work more than eight hours a day, and work on the weekend to even get your company off the ground.”
Imagine how patient this dear soul who’s with you will have to be. “No honey, we can’t go to Ibiza even though we had our best quarter ever – 1/3 of it went to operations and payroll.” Romantic right? How about, “No honey, we can’t buy that new car because we hired five more people and we also buy their groceries and pay their rent.” Or the heartbreaking ones where you can’t attend a school play because an investor is in town and can ONLY meet at that time. Later on when your company is scalable you can. When you are starting up, you hustle harder and you don’t want any opportunity passing you by. However “worth it” it may be to you, try explaining that to someone who has sacrificed their time to accommodate yours. And if you were them, you’d say “show me the money” too if it looked the way it does on paper.
No matter what, your smartest friend at MIT will never understand what it’s like to own a business. It weighs heavily on me that I am responsible for my clients’ hopes and dreams (their baby) and every new person I hire is another set of groceries and rent.
I remember thinking in high school that I wanted to be like my Dad. Getting up at 10 am and leaving the office whenever. To me, that meant a life of freedom. Those ladies getting their nails done at 2 pm? I wanted that to be me.
What I didn’t see were the unfortunate lawsuits he would be muffling about outside. What I didn’t see were the painstaking travels he’d take to close deals that just ‘may or may not’ happen. You see, we’ve become dreamers with (hopefully) good dreams. We are a group of supreme optimists, yet many business owners I know are hardened pessimists. Yet, every time there is an opportunity, you’ll never see anyone move faster to chase it down. And every win a client has is a chance to thank your team and see how proud of their work they are and should be.
We made the Austin Business Journal Fast 50 growing companies in Austin this year. Talk about almost not applying. Supplying all the numbers for 2014, 2015, and 2016 was pretty scary. You don’t know if someone will laugh or scoff at you. You didn’t know the process was the same as buying a house.
My business partner and I were 110% in it, at the very last hour (like 10 minutes before deadline), trying to track down our CPA to sign it. Luckily he is a reputable CPA but he had to read every line, page per page before signing. I don’t think I took a breathe in that last hour.
When we were annouced as one of the fifty fastest growing businesses in Austin, I thanked the universe that I had the right team behind me. It was validation for something I already knew: I did hire smarter people than me and they will be the reason I accept this award. I look forward to celebrating all the blood, sweat, and tears with my team, and especially with my senior team who has been through it all: Sam Kimelman and Scott Mise.
Thank you, Austin, for all the opportunity you have to offer. At the end of the day, I consider it a choice I made, and one I follow through with every day.