In this article, we are going to show you the cost of freedom. It’s the main challenge of being an entrepreneur.
The price of freedom is steep, baby. In the case of entrepreneurship, it comes in exchange for late nights and early mornings; lots of mate or café and sometimes both for all day steam. Self-doubt, tested friendships and, in almost all cases initially, no financial reward are familiar friends to this shameless walk. But, we’re not going to talk about all the what-ifs or how hard things can be. You’re gonna have hours, days and weeks that you’ll be able to sort that out on your own. Yours will look different than mine and you’ll find solutions to getting past the bumps in the road. This you will figure it out, believe me. Because you want this thing and you’ve proven to yourself that you want it more than maybe anything you have ever had before.
But, there’s something that you really need to ask yourself right now. Do you have what it takes?
And by it, I mean endurance.
It’s easy to say yes, but when you’re 10 weeks in with no definite signs of progress, exhausted to the point of delirium from juggling your full-time gig, demands of your family and friends and personal TLC, how much fuel do you have left to burn the midnight oil on your unpaid passion project? Endurance fueled by enthusiasm cannot be taught in a classroom or learned in a book. It’s something that’s connected to your truest emotions and is done with all guns firing. It begins with belief and is translated through words, actions and tireless efforts. You’ve spent years perfecting being an overachiever for someone else’s dream. Now that you have a dream of your own, it’s time to shift that enthusiasm to tirelessly bringing it to life.
What does it really mean to work double the hours for the same amount of pay (or less)? How do you use the things you’ve learned, the people you’ve meeting and your successes through your current employer to build your idea into a profitable business?
Let’s be real. If building a dream into a reality is what you’re seeking, you’re gonna have to put in time and grunt work. Living in a time of instant gratification, it’s possible that pretty much anything you want can be delivered to your doorstep within 24 hours. You take a picture, post it to the internet and people instantaneously like, comment and share it.
We’re part of a generation centered around the digital world. As exciting and full of possibilities as this may be, it can also falsify reality. There’s often no real measurement to the truth or depth of life lived through social media. You log on, see that people have a following of 50K followers and believe that they are living lavish lifestyles by just uploading a few images. It’s seems like you can become instantly famous, successful and rich.
But just in case you’re confused and falling victim to this white lie, here’s the deal. It’s NOT necessarily true.
Real brands are built on hard work.
I’ll say it again.
Real brands are built on hard work.
Take a step back and assess your current situation. You’re working with a company that keeping your lights on and letting you drink overpriced beers with your friends. In exchange for this, you’re devoting a minimum amount of time, energy, effort and intelligence. This company can pay you a cushy amount of dough because they’ve spent countless hours building up a foundation that you call “work.” You have a hand in making them lots of money so they can pay you a smaller percentage of this. Math is not my forte, but you get the picture.
So how does this connect to you building out your dream machine? You want the freedom to make money your way, you have to do the work.
And unless you’re fortunate enough to have hefty savings, a trust fund, or investors financially backing your idea, you’re going to have to, for a period of time, put in double. If you ARE fortunate enough to have funds that will allow you to quit your 9 to 5 and focus fully on this and only this, you still have to work double because your new boss is your outside investor, your trust fund, or your savings account.
Believe that you can build a profitable business out of something that you’re passionate about. You took the bait and worked your way through the Lull and Dull. You’ve protected, established and branded your company and laid some basic foundational guidelines for the day to day operations. And I finished off the last post with some tidbits on my favorite part of building a brand in the Honeymoon Stage, which I hope is as exciting for you as it is for me.
Now that you’ve paved the initial path, it’s time to prepare for the days ahead. Some days will be a bit taxing, you’ll be juggling tough decision making and balancing the needs of other people with your own.
The key here is to continue working with the same enthusiasm as you have been doing, but with endurance. Endurance by definition means the fact or power of enduring (remain in existence/last) an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way.
Pause and absorb. Not to say your journey to independence will be unpleasant, but there will be days that are tough and weeks that you are tired. And if you want it, you’ll find the strength to endure with enthusiasm.
Make the decision that you’re going to own this process and not back out as soon as it gets a little difficult. Then, let’s strategize. Suit up and mentally, physically and emotionally to prepare to endure the ride. With your inner urgency ramping up, there will be a lot to consider and balance which can become overwhelming at times. A new mantra to begin and end each day with is PATIENCE.
This is what, along with hard work and perseverance, what will keep you focused and on track.
Here are a few practices to incorporate that will strengthen your endurance and elevate your enthusiasm as you pay the cost of freedom.
The Cost of Freedom: Allocate Non-Negotiable Times for Your Project
When your boss requests a meeting, you schedule it in your calendar with a Sharpie. Adopt this mentality for your passion project. You can’t push time for your business to the side because something else comes up. It must be non-negotiable. Start with waking up 30-45 minutes earlier a couple of mornings a week and focusing on completing one task during this time then work your way up to a couple of hours before or after your other responsibilities.
Whenever you can allocate the time, you need to write it in permanent marker and fully commit to each second. Working double hours doesn’t have to mean turning your 40 hour work week into 80 hours, it means setting deadlines for yourself and completing these with the limited amount of time you have outside of your current paid job and personal obligations. It means that you have to work smarter and more efficiently within the time that you do have. Turning off external distractions, dedicating 100% of your efforts to achieving one task to perfection and fully utilizing all of your resources to assist your success. Schedule social media posts in advance, dedicate 2 times a day to respond to emails, and turn off your phone and notifications while you’re working. These are a few ways you can make the most of each minute.
The Cost of Freedom: Prioritize Personal Time
Inevitably, when you add in extra activities, there will be things that get neglected. Your friendships, relationships, and connection to yourself will find itself on unstable ground for a period of time as you try to fit in another time sucker. Which means that now’s the perfect time to do some spring cleaning and hard decision making. Just like getting rid of that pile of t-shirts you’ve been hoarding since your junior year in high school because they have “sentimental value” it’s time to do some cleaning and organizing of how you spend your time. Nothing will zap your energy quicker than feeling stretched, spread thin and like you have too many things to manage. Cleaning and re-prioritizing your personal time doesn’t have to be a permanent decision, but it needs to be a 100% commitment for a period of time.
Look at how you’re spending the hours that you’re not working, taking care of your family, committing to being a good friend and maintaining your personal wellbeing. Redirect these hours of mulling through social media, drinking at the bar and binge-watching Netflix to bring life to your dream. This is how you go from just another John Doe at a corporation to building your own empire, no matter how big or small that may be.
Staying in on a Saturday night and budgeting your extra expenses a little more frugally isn’t a lifestyle that has to last forever, but it is important that you make this a priority for a period of time. Not only will it make you mentally, emotionally and physically strong as you build your company into something you can be proud of, but it will save you a little extra money and a lot of time in the long run.
The Cost of Freedom: Capitalize on Things That You’ve Learned at Work
During your career and commitments, you’ve learned to diligently and with urgency meet goals, deadlines and bring in profits in exchange for a paycheck. You’ve crafted skills that have advanced your performance in your day job. These same skills will ideally provide the opportunity to support your performance and success in your endeavor.
You’ve created documents, managed budgets, communicated clear, concise messaging and managed teams. These skill sets look good on a resume, but even better when you use them to build out your company. As the saying goes, don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Take what you’ve proven to work best for your company and get to work for yourself.
Build a Personal Network of People You’ve Met Throughout Your Career
As you begin to grow in confidence and the needs for your company, the best place to start looking for support is from those who you have already proven the ability to succeed too. Whether it’s co-workers, clients, loyal customers or supervisors, there is a strong link connecting these people and the work you’re doing at your company, and that is you. Your uncountable number of days spent bringing in profits and creating unduplicatable relationships has created an irreplaceable presence worth backing.
Not everyone that you’ve worked with will be out to support your cause, but there are few that will cheer you on all the way to the finish line, and these are the ones to share your idea with once you’re ready to make it more publicly known.
Now that you have the tools to build your empire, what is stopping you from putting one foot in front of the other and bringing your dream into a reality?