Wednesday, July 20th, 2011...7:07 pm
Questions Entrepreneurs Need to Ask. Then Answer. (Part 1)
Everybody thinks it must be great to be an entrepreneur. In most ways, they’re right. All you have to do is start a business, raise some money, pay yourself, sell out, retire to the beach.
While that’s not the way it usually works out, the basic idea is that if you have a good idea, work hard and stick to it, you’ll make a living.
What really happens is more like putting your life and liberty on the line while pursuing your happiness. I have a good number of fellow ‘treps’ who rarely get to spend time with their families, don’t take time to go to their children’s activities, and who “invest” so much money back into their business venture(s) that they don’t have anything left to pay themselves at the end of the month.
If you are considering taking on the life of an entrepreneur, then my posts over the next few days will ask you to consider a few questions before making the leap. Today’s question:
Am I willing to cheat my family out of my time?
Sacrificing your family time is not always necessary, and when your entrepreneurial efforts challenge your family for your time, you potentially risk losing your biggest allies. In a previous post, I laid out a plan to maximize your time by finding five “guys” who can do some of your stuff for you.
My wife has been my greatest ally and supporter during my transition to entrepreneurship. I think she has finally convinced me that I can do this.
Obviously the best thing about “being your own boss” is that your schedule a at least somewhat flexible. I say “somewhat flexible” because in my line of work, I am tied down to a few regularly occurring monthly deadlines. For example, the 20th of the month is the deadline for Sales Tax returns in almost every state in the nation. I usually block off the entire week prior to the 20th exclusively for my tax clients. I only do Sales Taxes and I work in 45 states. I don’t do the other kind, so April 15th is just another day for me.
Because they know my regular monthly cycle, my family and friends are able to schedule around me for the most part. If we take a trip, it usually starts a day or two after the 20th, and we are almost always home the week prior to the 20th.
As a family, we have elected to home-school our two children – and this adds to our flexibility. Despite being a skeptic for almost all of my life, I now think that homeschooling is the entrepreneur version of schooling. Think about it – you can work from home or from the road; your schedule a flexible; it’s a smaller organization; you are your own boss; you get involved in home school associations (networking); there are lots of things that become tax deductible; and, although you still have to meet government requirements, a lot of the more stupid ones don’t apply to you.
Bottom Line: How does my business activity affect my family?
There are many effects my business activities have on my family. First, I’m home most every time I need to be. I can’t recall but a time or two that I have missed something that one of the children had – programs at schools, sporting activities, parent watch days at dance, recitals, dress rehearsals – I’m there almost every time.
My dad was great about getting off work to come to my baseballs games and things like that – but when I was young, he still had to get off work. Even though he was something of a big wheel at his company, he still worked for someone else. Plus, we lived in such a small town that it took exactly 90 seconds to get from his office to the ballfield. I think it took him longer to walk to his car than to drive across town. Frankly, if I still worked in a traditional office environment, considering that my commute was roughly an hour each way, I would miss a ton of stuff that I don’t have to miss now.
Vacations are sometimes “Workations”. We travel a lot. I travel on business and sometimes the family goes with me. We travel on pleasure and sometimes I have to take a day off of vacationing to work. That’s a lot better than not going or having to choose between working and vacationing. People probably think we’re crazy because we go do Disneyworld several times a year. Because of my job situation, I am able to do nearly as much work there as I can at home. Because my wife is such a brilliant planner, we can spend a week a Disneyworld about as cheaply as we could go camping. In fact, she will be launching HER business later this year – a blog site giving Disney vacation tips called bettermousetrip.com. Check it out! It will be up and running this fall. Now that it’s in print, she’ll have to do it.