The word ‘sacrifice’ often comes with many negative connotations. We associate it with giving up something that makes us happy in order to achieve a goal. For instance a few scenarios that come to mind when thinking of ‘sacrifice’ include foregoing your daily dessert to lose weight or relinquishing your vacation budget to afford a new Prada bag. However, sacrifices should not be perceived as daunting trade-offs. It is imperative to view sacrifices as a vehicle that allows you to achieve a greater goal. This will help get you into the habit of positive thinking and prompt you to be grateful for the opportunity to pursue your goals. When you are ready to make the sacrifices it takes to achieve your dreams then you have reached a level of maturity and dedication that signifies your mental preparedness to be your own boss. This mentality is imperative when it comes being an entrepreneur. Before you take the plunge into self-employment, there are a few things you need to ask yourself:
First, be honest with yourself.
Ask yourself if you have what it takes. Lying to yourself will only hurt you and set you up for failure. Not everyone is equipped to be an entrepreneur, that’s the reality. It doesn’t mean that you are less of a person or that you don’t have talent, but just like any other profession, it requires a certain set of skills that not everyone possesses. For instance you have to be okay with risk and uncertainty, which are difficult feelings to make peace with if you are prone to being a control freak.
To fully grasp this concept allow me to provide a personal anecdote. I love surfing. Despite the fact that I have alabaster skin and live on the East Coast surfing just calls to me. But as much as I love to surf, I am not going to be the next Alana Blanchard or even an instructor for toddlers in a baby pool at the 92Y. Why? Because wearing a swimsuit on a daily basis would kill me, those weekly Brazilian waxes would be a very painful part of my regimen and my surfing skills are just not up to par to pursue it as a profession. While I love to surf I am not willing to put in the time necessary to improve my skills to a professional level. For me it is not worth the sacrifice. I was honest with myself about my talents and capabilities and decided to keep surfing as a hobby. To be painfully honest, just because you love something doesn’t mean it’s a viable career option.
While you may admire the entrepreneurial spirit it doesn’t mean the life is right for you. In this way you may have to sacrifice your pursuit of a career you know you can’t handle in order to focus on an achievable dream. Not everyone is equipped to be an entrepreneur, but that’s what makes the world go round.
Don’t be discouraged! You can still do work you find fulfilling without all of the stress, responsibilities and risks of owning a business. An alternate option is working for a startup. This way you can help build a business from the ground up, but without putting your financial stability on the line.
Not sure whether you can handle the entrepreneurial life? Take a moment to evaluate your work ethic and skill set. For instance when I decided that I wanted to be a career/life coach and an artist manager I created a list of the traits and skills required to do this work. I then asked myself the following questions to gage whether I was suited to be my own boss:
Are you cut from the entrepreneurial cloth?
- Are you ready to dive into the unknown?
- Do I have good leadership skills?
- Am I self disciplined?
- Do I have the ability to manage chaos and handle problems as they arise?
- Do I work well under pressure?
- Am I able to promote myself and my business?
- Am I able to take calculated risks?
- Can I avoid comparing myself with my peers?
- Am I resilient enough not to let others opinions derail me?
- Can I think outside of the box?
- Do I have the strength to walk away from something when I know it’s not going to work?
Answering these questions honestly helped me determine whether I was going to move forward with my businesses.
Back to those ‘sacrifices’…
Once you have established that you are entrepreneurial material then you have to ask yourself the million dollar question:
“Am I willing to make the necessary sacrifices of a budding entrepreneur?”
“What sacrifices?” you may ask. “I get to be my own boss and work from wherever I want and do whatever I want. It’s my business and I call the shots.” Yes, not only do you call the shots, but you handle finances, outreach, EVERYTHING.
I repeat: You will be handling E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G.
When you first start out you won’t have a customer service department or an assistant or a 401K with a great health insurance plan. You won’t get a guaranteed paycheck every 2 weeks or designated paid vacation or weekends. I spent most of my adult life working for larger establishments, so I know how difficult it can be to voluntarily excuse yourself from these benefits. I had a very short stint in freelancing, but for the most part I had always been an employee. I did my job and I got a paycheck every two weeks. In this corporate setting there was structure and security. At most of my past jobs I even got to take on leadership roles.
I don’t regret any of those experiences as they taught me how to effectively collaborate with others and develop leadership skills. But while I learned a lot in those roles I wasn’t really happy doing any of them. A couple years ago, I found myself at a crossroads. Do I go back to my corporate life where I was unhappy and comfortable or do I pursue my own business venture where I will be happy and uncomfortable, potentially for a few years?
With great thought, I decided to pursue my own venture as I thought it would allow me to maximize my talents and help benefit others. But I was sure to prepare myself for the sacrifices and lifestyle changes ahead.
My personal sacrifices…
- Living within my means – No vacations or extras. Sometimes no healthcare. Dramatic lifestyle shifts.
- Taking on additional menial work in between projects if my freelance projects can’t pay my bills that month.
- No free time – ‘I am my business 24/7’ mentality
- Relationships – Distancing yourself from people in your life who won’t support your goals no matter who they are. You don’t have time to deal with them, nor should you have to.
- Living a life with no guarantees or security. No benefits or support.
- Pride – Sometimes requesting help from people in your life who you trust and those who believe in you.
Once after leaving a movie on a Sunday night, I had a friend say to me, “You are so lucky that you don’t have to be up in the morning to go to an office tomorrow and have people bitching at you. Your life is so cool and easy.” Initially this statement really annoyed me, but I knew she wasn’t saying it with any mal intent rather she was just ignorant to the struggles of a fresh entrepreneur. People who don’t work in this space have no clue what sacrifices must be made to be your own boss. I love global travel (you can read about traveling solo here),
but I haven’t left the country in years. I miss my seasonal Anthropologie and Anna Sui dresses, but I don’t need to buy 5 of them a year. I know these sacrifices sound like 1st world problems, but these and many other enjoyable aspects of my life were sacrifices for me.
Being my own boss has put so much in perspective about what is important in life. I am so grateful to be able to do the work that I love every day. I get to coach people into better parts of their lives and support an array of artists in their development of new music or work. With that comes great sacrifice and great reward. You have to decide what’s best for you. Are you willing to make the sacrifices required to be your own boss?
Once you have decided that you are then you must read, The 7 Things You Must Do Before Starting Your Own Business by Nely Galan.