(Insight from Optimal Station’s Founder and CEO)
Most people, when asked if they’ve ever thought about owning their own business, would answer affirmatively. After all, who doesn’t want to be their own boss, call all the shots, pursue their passion? However, it’s important to understand the hard work and risks that come along with those potential rewards.
From a young age, I knew that I was destined to be an entrepreneur. I enjoyed challenges, willingly took calculated risks, and understood the long term benefits of business ownership. My parents were restaurateurs, so I had real-life examples of what it took to succeed and the time and energy needed to create and operate a successful business.
I learned that there’s more to it than just loving a product, industry, or service. In other words, you may be the best hair stylist or chef, but starting a salon or a restaurant requires additional skill sets never required of you before. Are you prepared to be the CEO, CMO, CFO, CIO (and others) all at the same time? Are you willing to learn A LOT and juggle a seemingly unending array of tasks and responsibilities all at once?
Many new entrepreneurs mistakenly underestimate how long it takes and how much work goes into the first few years of business (at least). They may not realize that they will most likely be trading a 40-hour workweek (with reasonable assurances that they will be paid regularly) for an 80-to-100-hour work week (where they get paid AFTER all the employees have IF there is any money left).
Speaking of employees, you may be thinking, “I’ll just hire someone to do the parts I don’t want to do.” Again thinking of my parents’ restaurants, I remember the difficulty they had hiring reliable, effective restaurant managers. After all, there isn’t an island of good managers somewhere from which you can just pluck an especially competent manager. (If there is, and I missed it, please reach out to me and tell me where it is as you never know when I’ll need the next one!)
Even if you are able to identify and recruit top-notch employees, there’s still the matter of pay and benefits and the revenue you will have to generate in order to cover them. Especially in the early stages, you will most likely find yourself doing almost everything yourself.
Considering how much time and energy is necessary to invest in a new business, it’s not difficult to understand why so many new business owners struggle to create a harmonious work-life balance. You may have a spouse or life partner, kids, pets, and other family members and friends all competing for your attention. They deserve it and you do as well, but, admittedly the balancing act is not easy to master.
I find myself carving out moments here and there whenever possible and making those moments really count. I ask myself, what can I do with the kids today that will be special and memorable (but still get that big business proposal in on time)? It certainly forces you to get creative and be thoughtful.
I won’t lie and say it doesn’t tug at my heart strings when my kids ask, “You have to work AGAIN this weekend?!” But I also recognize that I’m teaching them (especially the girls) what it takes to create a successful business while setting an example of a strong female business owner. I also believe that it’s never too early to demonstrate a strong work ethic.
In fact, these moments create perfect life discussion and bonding opportunities, allowing kids to open up and start to share their own dreams and goals. These listen-and-love moments can change their perspective on the “why” behind your work life (automatically contributing to your work/life balance).
So, clearly, being an entrepreneur is not for the weak of heart, but the rewards can be immeasurable, both in personal satisfaction and the ability to create a legacy that can teach and help many, many people for untold generations. Are you cut out for it? You may not know until you try!