Archive for February, 2010

Reassessing The Priorities of a Successful Business

Note: Forgive me for rambling a bit, I typically like to jot down what I’m thinking :)

I have always striven to create some sort of multi-million dollar brand through one of the businesses I have started.  Now that I’m working for myself full-time, I’ve had the opportunity to sort of re-asses what my actual goals really are.

I find myself laying in bed at 2am in the morning with my mind racing about the day, ideas for the future, how I’m going to do what’s on the task list, etc.  Part of these big dreams I think has to do with the fact that a lot of content and stories of entrepreneurs that I tend to read about are big picture companies.  What I mean by that are companies that make products or offer services which meet a huge audience.  Intel makes chips for all PC’s and Mac’s, Google makes products that everybody uses, Foot Locker sells shoes that everybody wears, etc.  These are big picture companies that have the real potential to bring in millions, or even billion of dollars.

Then I look at my core business, a very niche luxury store that deals specifically with carbon fiber products…a material which the majority of the people never heard of or have no idea what it is.  When I’m dreaming of making my business successful, I think about being able to live the lavish lifestyle…but in reality, is that a true way to define success?

I find myself constantly comparing my life to how it was when I was working full-time for another company.  To be blunt, I’m making roughly the same amount of money right now, but I’m working wayyyy more.  Not only that, I have the constant stress of this never-ending to do list…forms to fill out, reconciling monthly, tax estimates quarterly, business license yearly, blah, blah, blah.  There are a million things to do, and I find myself always thinking and worrying about getting them done.  In comparison, at a full-time job, my day ends at 5pm, and typically doesn’t get thought about until I arrive the next morning.  The time in-between is “free-time”.  Now I feel like I lose a lot of that free-time because I’ve always got business on my mind…I’ve got to be able to make sure to afford the next month’s mortgage payment.

On the upside though, my schedule is much more flexible.  If I want to wake up a little later (although I find myself waking up earlier), I can.  If I want to take a week vacation, I can (although I’ll have ridiculous amounts of work to do when I get back, and that will of course be on my mind during vacation).  I work at home, which is great, but eventually (hopefully) I’ll grow out of my home office (which has grown to about a 2.5 room home office) and need to have a commercial space.

So I find myself always asking myself if this is all worth it?  The great thing about owning a business is the fact that the sky is the limit.  I have a much greater chance of making a lot more money with my business than I would working for another company, but that comes at a cost…and is that cost worth it?  To be honest, I haven’t fully decided yet.  The big thing for me is I generally like the work I’m doing on my own much better, but being the sole employee is a bit overwhelming.  I have to play many many roles, and you can’t just know everything or do everything better than anybody else.  Getting that first employee and being able to pass off responsibility will probably be one of the single most life changing parts of my career as an entrepreneur.

I will say that it’s extremely tough to get to the point where I feel like it’s worth it.  If I was able to do the same amount of work and double the amount of money, I would feel a lot more comfortable saying it is.  Apples to apples comparison, the freedom of knowing a paycheck is coming every two weeks, knowing that my health is taken care of, and having some sanity back/burden off my shoulders…it’s tough to say the business route is the way to go.  I honestly don’t think most people would be able to do it and stick to it.

This post was just more of a way for me to get some thoughts off of my chest.  I’m calling out to other business owners and entrepreneurs out there to post your experiences in the comments.  Do you find it worth it?  Have you gotten to the point monetarily that you’ve surpassed your goals?  If so, do you have any advice?  Did it happen over time with slow growth, or was there one moment that changed everything?