The Fruits of Your Labor

by Rob Spiegel

Most articles on home business and start-ups focus on the strategies and tasks required to get a business up and running. But sometimes the struggling entrepreneur needs to be boosted -- and bolstered -- by the reminder of the rewards that come when you're finally successful.

First off, you get to sleep again. Zen peace doesn't come easy when you're working to get a company up and going. The whole notion about not worrying over things you can't control is a wasted idea for the entrepreneur. You're not sure what you can and can't control until you're been running the business for years. You will worry about everything at first. Once you get to the point where you can pay your bills (even if late) without borrowing money, you'll get to sleep again. That is, until it's time to push your growth to the next level -- then it's back to late-night pacing.

Second, you get to go to movies or buy CDs again. Entrepreneurs give up dozens, even hundreds of small pleasures such as buying a new CD by a favorite artist. Or going to a new movie. You don't have the time and you don't have the money. These were small, common pleasures when you had a job. When you're fighting to make ends meet, you give up much of your old life. There are some entrepreneurs that don't squeeze their lifestyle down to bare necessities, and many of those entrepreneurs fail. Successful entrepreneurs are typically able to live on air, water and crackers for months, even years.



Third, you get to take a vacation. The first vacation I took after launching my first business happened three years into the start-up. I went to Hawaii for a week with my wife and in-laws. I spent two or three hours each day picking up and returning messages while the family was off visiting the U.S.S. Arizona and the Dole Pineapple Plantation. I took one weekend day completely off to go snorkeling.

My wife thought I was compulsively attached to the business and she was correct. At the time, I thought that spending two or three hours a day on business demonstrated I was quite detached. After all, I wasn't on the phone eight hours each day, which is what I really believed the business needed.

Fourth, you get to tell people you run a company rather than explaining you're trying to start a company. Running a company means it's supporting you. Trying to start a company means you're still borrowing money to pay your bills. There is also magic in saying you own your company. When Steve Jobs was fired from leading Apple, a company he co-founded, he was offered a VP position. He turned it down and launched a new company, NeXT Computer. He felt it was preferable to be the leader of a small company rather than a second-string spot at a large company. "At conferences and trade shows, CEOs talk with other CEOs," he said at the time. "CEOs don't talk with VPs." Apparently Jobs wanted to spend time talking with generals rather than lieutenants

Fifth, and most important, you get to reintroduce yourself to your family. You will get to find out how many kids you have and what grades they're in. If you can't break away from your company, it helps if you can involve your family in the business. At least then you get to see them. When I ran a magazine, my wife was the art director -- partly because she was an artist and was good at it, and partly because we couldn't afford an art director. She examined printers blue-lines at the hospital the day after our son was born. All three of my kids have spent time sitting on Dad's lap during sales meetings. But the true fruits of the labor come when you can take extra time off with your family because you own your own business.

Rob Spiegel is the author of Net Strategy (Dearborn) and The Shoestring Entrepreneur’s Guide to Internet Start-ups (St. Martin's Press). You can reach Rob at robspiegel@comcast.net

 
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