The Hard Truth about Running a Small Business


There’s just nothing like the thrill of taking a product or service that you’ve come up with, create on your own and then getting it out to market, watching it sell and get used and make a difference in people’s lives, of those people who are using it. There is a financial realm of challenges. There’s a social realm of challenges and then there’s a mental and emotional realm of challenges and so I’ll just kind of touch on some of those. So, financially it is, you will make more money per hour flipping burgers, no doubt about it. I mean there’s just a period of time where there are so many things that you have to do that you don’t get paid for that the work that you do, that you actually get paid for is just a small part of the time that you’re spending in your business.

There are websites to create and business cards to do and strategy to come up with and all kinds of communication and marketing. There are just so many things that you have to do. You have to go into it with a bootstrap shoestring budget mentality where your personal take-home pay, you are counting on it being next to nothing, even nothing if at all possible. To live on savings for a period of time so you can literally make nothing from the business. So how does that sound? Go spend all this time, all this energy and make nothing. Don’t we love entrepreneurship, it’s so great? I paid my mortgage on the 30th day that it was late for like eight months in a row, and it was just an absolute struggle and a mad dash and just a crazy wild goose chase every month to try to scrape up the money to be able to pay my mortgage.

There are taxing times when you’re in that early stage and relationships suffer. Sometimes families don’t make it through that. Sometimes there’s divorce and separation and lots of hard and hurt feelings because the business requires everything you’ve got. It requires everything. And that is a hard thing for people to realize before they actually do it. If you allow the business to completely dominate, your family will struggle. That takes me into the second realm, which is the social realm. You’re not going to see your friends for a while. You’re not going to go do fun stuff. You’re not going to go out and hang out, you’re just not going to do those things. I remember times where I’d see friends, I hadn’t seen them for a long time and they’d be like, “Man, you used to be a lot more fun. We used to do a lot of fun stuff together.”

You have to sacrifice some of the less important relationships for a period of time. Your mind plays such games on you and there are so many ups and downs and such a roller coaster that it’s just really easy to get down and to be in a negative funk. When you’re not making money, and you’re not accomplishing goals, and it’s taking way longer than you thought, and a customer’s complaining about this, and your spouse is saying, “We don’t have money for that.” There are just so many things that mount that it just becomes a brutally challenging mental game to get through. That is the thing that I think is what breaks down most entrepreneurs and prevents them from achieving the success that they originally sought in the first place.

Everybody has skeletons, has issues they deal with. I guarantee you they’re going to come out when you’re trying to run a business. So if you don’t want to face some of those things, then you’re going to have a hard time running a business because you got to face some of that stuff if you’re going to win, if you’re going to overcome these things. That’s why I talk sometimes about the triumph of the human spirit, because you’re beating down things that would hold back most people or specific challenges that you’ve had in your life that are trying to hold you back. You’ve got to overcome those things. No doubt, there were times where I was delusional about what we were doing.

I think the thing for entrepreneurs is to err on the side of passion. So accept that there might be times that you’re going to be a bit delusional about it. Just be conscious of that and recognize that other people are going to have some perspectives. Our outcomes are determined by our thoughts, then our thoughts lead to our words. Our words lead to our beliefs, our beliefs lead to our actions. Our actions lead to our habits and our habits lead to our outcomes. So thoughts, words, beliefs, actions, habits, outcomes. The outcomes that we want can literally be created by the thoughts that we choose to feed our system. I think that entrepreneurs will serve themselves very well to get very clear on their purpose, their values, and their mission. Get clear on that, their core, and then the advice becomes a lot easier to filter and distill.