I thought I would write an article on what I’ve found to be tough in being an Austin entrepreneur. To balance it out, I’ll follow up with a different article on the positives. Interestingly enough, what I label as a con is really also a pro at the same time. What makes this business tough is the same exact thing which makes it exciting.
The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of what’s tough about this business is that I don’t really have anyone that I can ask for advice. The big decisions that I make in my businesses I have to make on my own. There is no one to tell me what the right decision is. When I do make decisions I make them based on my own experience combined with books and articles I’ve read on the Internet. I should say there are people that I can go to for opinions on what the best decision is, but an opinion is different from being directly told the right thing to do. In this game there are no blue prints, no step by steps, no paint by numbers. I often feel like Lewis and Clark blazing away through thick foliage deep into the unknown.
It was much different in the corporate world. There were usually set procedures put in place which were followed closely. Now every issue is brand new, with no precedent in place on how to deal with it. I’m creating procedures as I go along. At my last job I had manuals - lots of them - manuals on the credit system, on the store servers, on the store point of sale system, on what to do in case of so and so. Manuals on everything. Now if I want a manual if have to write it myself. As far as help, there was always someone I could go to. Now if I get to a point where in the past I would ask for help I instead put out several solutions in front of me and weigh them all out until I think I have the right one.
No training and no shadowing
Before starting a job in corporate there was usually a couple of weeks of training, and sometimes after that a period of “shadowing” where I would watch another person who was a veteran at the position I was going into. What I wouldn’t give to be able to shadow a successful entrepreneur once in awhile. To be able to sit and observe quietly while taking notes. The closest thing I have to this are books about entrepreneurship or books profiling successful entrepreneurs such as Donald Trump and Ted Turner. These provide some valuable information but of course it is not the same as watching the person in their everyday actions.
No Second Chances
In the corporate world if something went wrong, it was usually because there was a server down somewhere (I worked in several IT departments) so the problem was not caused directly by me. Now everything falls directly on my shoulders, good or bad. There is no passing the buck or pointing fingers. I have to take responsibility for everything that happens.
Then there were second chances, even third and fourths. Now there is only one chance, one strike. Customers don’t give you a second chance. Screw up once and the customer is gone. Consumers can be harsh and unforgiving.
Working for free - a lot
In a lot of what I work on, there are no guarantees I’m going to be compensated. I may never be compensated for these articles that I’m writing for this blog. This is in direct contrast to corporate. There if I showed up for work, I was going to be paid for it, pure and simple. I knew that as long as I was going to work a paycheck would be deposited to my bank account twice a month on the same days, month after month. That security is nice.
In entrepreneurship you have to be willing to work hard on something even though you may not see results for months or even years down the road, or even worse - not see any results at all.
I know a lot people reading this will be thinking to themselves how foolish this kind of behavior is. To pour month after month of sweat into a project, working on nothing but your own faith that it will amount to something. These people, people that have good jobs with good security and good benefits, people that are directly compensated for all the hard hours they put in, may not understand this need - this urge.. to create something. To give life to something. To build it, to grow it, and finally the ultimate, to hopefully watch it become self sustaining. “Why work for nothing?”, they might ask. Why? For the same reason people pray. For the same reason people go to church. Because I believe a positive outcome will be a result. Also because it’s in my blood, my dna, my genetics. I simply have to.
Thinking back to those days gives me a strange feeling. It’s hard to describe, hard to fully express and put into words. I guess the vast contrast of how my life used to be compared to how it is now can be a bit overwhelming. Until writing this article I have not really gone deep into my memory of how things were then. I can say that I’m much happier with the way things are now compared to then. The main reasons for this will be summed up in the second part to this article, where I will talk about all the positives that come along with this adventure. Please stay tuned, and if you would like to post a comment on this article I would like to hear it. If it’s noteworthy and relevant I’ll add it to the comments section. Happy trailblazing.