There is a misunderstanding in our culture today of what it means to be your own boss versus what it means to be an entrepreneur. These terms are used interchangeably, but they’re different. To help you see the difference, answer this question:
Your daughter has a dance recital tonight you want to attend, but your business needs your attention. Do you want to be there for your daughter, or be there for yourself?
I don’t pose this question as a backhanded judgment, but to help make the distinction being your own boss and being an entrepreneur crystal clear.
If you want to be your own boss and create the flexibility that allows you to be there for those moments, that is a value-based decision that only you can make. You must be aware, however, that in doing so, you are playing the short game.
As an entrepreneur, you must play the long game. It is natural to feel guilt, especially in the moment, about missing out on key milestones in your child or children’s lives, but if you embrace the long game - that you are doing this not only for your benefit but for your family - you understand why the sacrifice is all the more necessary.
Being an entrepreneur is a risky business, and it is not for everyone. It has tremendous ups and considerable downs. Being your own boss or the employee of another boss is safer, by far. The financial growth curve that accompanies that choice is a slow, straight line up and to the right, provided you make the right decisions with your money.
As an entrepreneur, that growth curve is all over the page. The attraction here is that, at some point, you might find yourself on the highest of the high points, a level of financial success you might never achieve working under the “my own boss” mentality.
Those swings, though, come with no small measure of risk—time with your family being one of the most important to consider. In this article, we’ll look at the sacrifices you have to make as an entrepreneur, including ones I had to make in my own life.
Your Sacrifice Has a Purpose
Let’s continue with the previous example of your daughter’s dance recital.
Did you wake up today and think, “I should check out the internet today to see if there are other six-year-old dance recitals I can attend because the dancing is so good”?
Of course not. You don’t want to go to those things because the dancing is good, because, frankly speaking, it’s terrible. You go because your child is participating because somehow the dancing isn’t so bad when they’re performing.
I consult with other service providers in an effort to help them grow their businesses, and what I’ve realized is that many of them had newborns, toddlers, and young kids, and they were so committed to attending those type of events. They told us what level they wanted to achieve with their business and how many hours they worked, but in the same breath, they told us that they had to be home by 5:00 p.m. every day because that’s when the family sits down for dinner with the newborn at the table, because they put the baby down at 7:00 p.m., and it’s important to them to be there for that.
Again, there is no judgment here. It is not a mistake to feel that way. However, if you’re committed to being an entrepreneur, if you truly have the long game in your sights, then you have to ask yourself if you’re doing these things for your child or for yourself.
Will your newborn remember the evenings you were home for dinner at the table? Will they recall the nights you lowered them into the crib for bedtime? Will they remember your face in the audience at their preschool holiday concert?
We don’t ask this to be dismissive. Quite the opposite. In fact, if you already know yourself to be an entrepreneur, we hope you find comfort in this, the idea that you can make a choice to miss these things if you haven’t already, and that it’s okay.
In all likelihood, your children won’t remember those things. It’s not something we like to face as parents, but it’s true, and that forgotten time could have been spent building the business that allows you to be there when it counts—when they will remember.
I Made Those Sacrifices Myself
I don’t say all this as someone who lacks experience in this area. When I started my chiropractic business, there was a lot on my plate. I had to pass my national board certification exam. I needed to start a new clinic and manage all the details of getting it up and running. Every aspect of creating a business anew required a rebuild, and in doing so, I missed a countless number of my daughters’ functions and life events.
Talent shows, choir concerts, all without “Papi.”
The thing is, it was intentional. I sacrificed my time at those events not because I had to but because I wanted to. I knew it was a risk. I knew it was a gamble.
Yet because I chose to miss those events when they were younger, I was able to build a business such that, by the time they were in high school, I was able to attend most, if not all, of the major events in their lives. My oldest daughter is a cheerleader, where there is an event or competition almost every weekend. I attend those because I took the time earlier and built a business and a lifestyle that affords me the ability to do so.
Still, I wondered if I made the right choice for my daughters, so I asked them.
It was a relief to hear from both of my daughters that they felt I made the right choice and that they were thankful. They weren’t aware of the sacrifices of time at that young age, but they were quite aware of what those sacrifices meant for them today.
To Change, Start with “What”
If you’ve been treating your business as though you were your own boss and not an entrepreneur and you’d like to change, your first step is to tell yourself, and truly believe, that it is okay to be an entrepreneur as a service provider. Once you’ve done that, in order to make any strides, you must determine not your “why” but your “what.”
When Simon Sinek’s TED Talk was at the height of its popularity, I’d often attend conferences where speakers would begin presentations by talking about their “why.”
Invariably, they would show a picture of their family on the screen behind them. They expressed that they were there because they wanted to make the world a better place for them, that they were concerned for the future of their children.
Of course, as a husband and parent, I understood that…to a point.
If you’re going to embrace entrepreneurship, you must ingrain in your mind that what people buy is not why you do what you do. Frankly, it’s irrelevant. Customers, clients, and patients all will do business with you based on what you stand for.
I, Shawn Dill, stand for a world where health and success are known as fundamental truths rather than fundamental pursuits.
I guarantee that if you distill down what you stand for, you’ll find that every single person that does business with you does so because of that. I also guarantee that if you can’t truly articulate that which you stand for, it’s because you’ve only focused on your “why,” which is, essentially, too superficial.
Once you determine your “what,” it should permeate through every aspect of how you do business. It should be clear in the way you service your clients. It should be clear in your marketing and sales processes. It should be clear in the way you live your life.
When it is, people will be drawn to your service. When that happens, you will realize that there are many people who share your vision and want to take part in that which you provide. This will allow you to grow your business, to grow your vision.
But you can’t do that working three days a week, six hours a day.
For more advice on deciding whether you want to be your own boss or be an entrepreneur, you can find None Of Your Business on Amazon.