If you want to figure out what kind of person you are, then quit your job. Leaving behind the predictability of a 9-5 is the ultimate definition of “sink or swim.” When I put it like that, it can sound like a fun challenge with many rewards.
Entrepreneurship in recent years has been romanticized and the lines become more blurred every year. When are you legitimately considered an entrepreneur?
- Are freelancers entrepreneurs?
- Are you an entrepreneur if you have no employees?
- Is there a numerical cutoff to when you can officially classify yourself as a “successful entrepreneur”?
There are no certain answers to what an entrepreneur is, but it is clear what an entrepreneur is not. An entrepreneur does not work in a structured, traditional capacity as an employee out of necessity.
So, what does life look like when you abandon that ideology? I’ll give you the complete breakdown. The good, bad, and ugly.
Because it isn’t all sunshine and roses.
The biggest, most valuable reason to start your own business is the ability to create your life, instead of just living it.
As an entrepreneur, you are in control of what the rest of what your future looks like.
You are afforded the freedom to decide what is a priority for you and your family. Instead of someone selling you the dream, you have the opportunity to create the vision.
Whether you want a white picket fence, or a stamped-out passport is completely up to you. If it’s important to leave behind a legacy for your kids, you can spend your life ensuring that becomes a reality. If you are childless and would die happy knowing that you spent more time enjoying life than you did working, then that’s the lifestyle you can have.
I’m reading The 4-Hour Workweek: (Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich) for the third time, and every time I read it, it’s a reminder that my life didn’t fall into place like this. I planted the seed and I watered it. My life is the way it is because I made the decision to live differently than my friends and dream beyond my circumstances.
We don’t pay enough attention to ourselves. A study done in 2016 showed that in America alone, 97.3% of people are living an unhealthy lifestyle.
There were four, specific principles of healthy living used in the study:
- a good diet
- moderate exercise
- not smoking
- managing body fat
Only 2.7% of the people in the study qualified.
If those statistics are an accurate representation of America, then that means there are about 313 million people in one country who are gambling with their health every single day. 313 million people who have families — mothers, brothers, cousins, spouses, and children.
While abandoning the 9-5 doesn’t automatically qualify you to run a marathon, it’s the first step to owning your health. When you are working on the clock for a company that barely benefits you beyond a paycheck, it’s hard to think about taking care of yourself. Even if you think about it, it’s still very hard to make it a priority.
I remember trying to be healthy while being an employee. I made a very real attempt to pack my lunches so that I wouldn’t eat out and bringing snacks to work so that I wouldn’t go home and pig out.
Sometimes it worked, but most of the time… I just didn’t have time. I was absolutely miserable. And it was a hassle to take off work to see a doctor or take a few days off for general self-care.
Most of the time, you’re not afforded that luxury. You come to work, you do the work, and you get your bills paid.
Essentially, you’re making someone else’s dream come to fruition just so you can afford to have a roof over your head and keep food in the refrigerator.
I don’t want to over-exaggerate, but every time I think of it, the term “prison” also comes to mind. It’s just not a great feeling to have to check in with someone else for any extended plans you want to make. Then, you come back to your 9-5 and you’re playing catch-up for a week.
When you work for yourself, you can take breaks when you need to. Anytime you want to go away for some time, you alone can make that decision and account for it in your business. It goes back to priorities. If your health is important, and spending time with yourself is critical for you, then your happiness will suffer as an employee.
(Don’t forget to pin this image so you can always come back and read this again)
What is success?
No, really, I’m asking you.
Because success is whatever you say it is. When you work for someone else, they will define success for you. If you don’t meet their standards, they simply cut their ties and find someone else to replace you. But, when you go out on a limb and start a business, then the definition of success rests on your own shoulders.
You create your own goals and monitor how well you stack up against them.
Let’s talk about Jack.
Jack grew up in a modest family and went to school for accounting. He was pretty good with numbers, and it was the best way to put that skill to use immediately after school. After all, he had a family to take care of. But, what Jack loved the most was his connection to nature.
He cherished the feeling of fresh dirt slipping between his fingers. He made enough money as an accountant to take care of his family, but he was stressed out and mentally exhausted. At the end of the workday, he was often too tired to tend to his garden.
Eventually, Jack left his job, bought a modest amount of land and became a farmer. At first, it was difficult, but over the years, he was able to expand. He bought more and more land until he was making just a little more than he was as an accountant.
Monetarily, starting his own business wasn’t a huge payoff. But, if he looked at his quality of life, he was significantly happier. His definition of success was to do what he loved and provide for his family.
By doing both, Jack was successful. Period. It doesn’t matter how much other farmers were making or how much land he had in comparison.
That’s what it looks like when entrepreneurship works out for you.
Forget about anyone who tries to win you over with promises of six-figures. Or anyone who tries to convince you that the goal of entrepreneurship is to make more money than you can at a 9-5.
That’s their definition of success, not yours.
You are now personally responsible for the satisfaction of the people who pay you. It truly doesn’t matter how many employees you have on hand. Every single error made falls back on you.
There’s no one that you can shift the blame on.
Everything that happens in your business comes down to a decision you made at some point. I’ve talked about entrepreneurship being less stressful, but this is certainly the stressful aspect of it.
It’s the responsibility.
You have to learn (and quickly) how to take ownership of every problem and figure out exactly how a situation should be remedied. There aren’t many people you can look to for help.
Hopefully, you have a mentor that you can talk things through with, but the final decision comes down to you. When a customer says, “I’d like to talk to the owner,” there’s no way to pass that along. You have to represent for yourself, your brand, and your company.
It used to be a time when a company’s brand didn’t overlap often with the owner’s personal life. Mostly because, the majority of people didn’t really know the owner.
With digital media, that has changed drastically. Now, you are more or less a direct reflection of your brand. When people see your company on social media, finding your personal page is nothing more than a few clicks away. You become an integral part of their initial assessment.
Do you look trustworthy?
Is your lifestyle conducive to the values of your brand?
In other words — do you talk the talk and walk the walk? The constant demand for the owner to be entertaining and/or informative can be rough.
Most businesses now begin with building an audience.
In order to do that, you have to let people into a world which you might be reluctant to share. And you have to be consistently present. People’s attention span isn’t what it used to be. In order to keep your business in the minds of your customers, you have to show up for them.
Now, you learn what you’re capable of. Can you stay on top of things when there’s no boss breathing over your shoulder? When
Can you stay on top of things when there’s no boss breathing over your shoulder? When
When you don’t have routine quality assessments?
Is it possible for you to keep yourself productive, every day?
Learning your own limitations is not something that happens overnight. It comes on a journey of disappointment and self-deprecation. There will be times when you push yourself to do things that you simply haven’t learned to do yet. And it will frustrate the hell out of you.
In time, you will learn that you may not be exactly who you thought you were. Then, after you’ve accepted that, you need to figure out how to adjust. It’s a long, long road. If you’re lucky, you’ll be the only one around to judge yourself. But, for most, we had people all around who either distracted us or discouraged us.
But, for most, we had people all around who either distracted us or discouraged us. You’ll learn how well you do when your back is against the wall, fighting for a vision only you can see.
There are no guarantees in entrepreneurship.
It’s scary to think that you can put so much on the line and still fail. Even worse, to question giving up without knowing if your big break is right around the corner.
How well can you bounce back when things don’t work out?
From my experience, failure only happens in the moment that you give up.
From what I’ve seen, as long as you strategically and consistently work at a specific vision, then at some point, there’s a breakthrough. But, there are times when it’s hard to convince yourself of that truth.
In the beginning, there are times when you feel like you’re just keeping your head above water. Then, there are times where you actually feel like you went out too deep… and you’re drowning.
Giving Up The 9-5
Maybe I should have started with the ugly and worked backward. I don’t want to leave this on a negative note. Because, since I’ve abandoned the traditional 9-5, I haven’t regretted it. I could have turned back. I could have gone back to Corporate America and made due.
But, I never did.
And now, years later, I spend my time helping other people make the transition from a 9-5 to entrepreneurship. That’s how much I believe in owning your lifestyle. I used to have to convince people to leave their 9-5, and now, people come to me after they’ve already quit their jobs.
The world is changing and you have to decide where you fit into it.
Big businesses are not improving when it comes to quality of life for their employees. They’re out of touch with what’s important to the people who work for them. So, employees are leaving and taking matters into their own hands.
The Internet has made it more possible for people to live an extraordinary life.
Now that people know they can see the world, travel, spend more time with their kids and live virtually anywhere they want —a 9-5 just isn’t making as much sense as it used to. Student loan debt doesn’t make as much sense as it used to. A substandard life, a life where you settle for whatever comes your way is no longer the default.
You have a choice. What lifestyle will you choose?