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Build a profitable business- the baby steps part 38

We have been entrepreneurs for the better part of our lives. We understand that all people are unique and that our choice of lifestyle and work is not for everybody. Some of you reading this may not be interested in becoming entrepreneurs and that´s ok. It really is. That´s doesn´t make you inferior to us in any way. Nor does it make you any less driven or successful. Everybody has the right to make the choices that are best suited for them, and who are we to say what is right and what is wrong. We are merely telling you what is right or wrong for us, and how we have arrived at that those conclusions. But ultimately we all must decide what we are about and what we want to do with our lives. For us becoming entrepreneurs is the best thing that ever happened to us. Nothing could ever make us go back. We share this experience with most of the entrepreneurs we know. Once the Rubicon has been crossed there is no turning back. But some times we meet sceptics and that´s just the way it should be. Just the other week we met a hardcore sceptic at a party. Let´s call him Steve. Steve had a fairly good job at a global well-known corporation. he made decent money. He had good benefits to go along with that. All in all, Steve was pretty much set up for life. Or so he figured. Now Steve had thought about going out on his own several times but he had always decided not o in the last moment. He told us he was glad that he didn´t take the plunge. After all he felt security in his current position. He was safe. Why would he want to trade that for a life of insecurity and a work-around-the-clock lifestyle?

What followed was a discussion between Steve, his wife and me and my partner. Steve claimed there was no upside to being an entrepreneur instead of being an employee. To be fair, he did mention one exception: as an entrepreneur you could make a killing money-wise. But he figured those chances were miniscule, like one in a million or so, so they didn´t really count. He mentioned some statistics about the number of companies that don´t make it, and we agreed that the numbers were awful. We knew about those already. Nothing in life is black or white. And there certainly aren´t any free lunches. There is a price to be paid for everything. We decided long agp we wanted to be entrepreneurs, and we have paid our tuition fees on more than one ocassion. And when Steve asked us what we would have done if we could turn the clock back and start all over again the answer was a no-brainer for us. We would be entrepreneurs. We would do it all over again, only this time slightly different based on what we have learned over the years. But we wouldn´t be employee´s. Not in a million years. Wild horses wouldn´t drag us back into life as an employee. Steve didn´t get it. As an employee you had your security, your steady stream of pay-checks and a comfortable lifestyle. Why would we want to trade that in for frantic round-the-clock work that migt make us rich but was just as likely to lead to an ulcer? Why would anybody take that bet?

We saw his point. Truly, we did. But we also told him that he was in no position to make claims about which road was better. He had only tried one of them: life as an employee. He had no experience of the road less travelled: being an entrepreneur. We had been on both sides of the fence. And from where we were standing it wasn´t much of a contest. Being an entrepreneur won, hands down. But Steve wasn´t convinced. He asked us if being an entrepreneur had any advantages over being employeed. Could we name one such advantage? We could. And we did. So we told him what we valued most about being an entrepreneur. It´s the stuff that makes it unable for us to even think about going down another avenue. There are probably loads of other things to put on that list, and many of you might not agree with us, but like we said; this is our list. It deals with the stuff we feel is important. And that´s just the stuff we are about to tell you:

We have a serious upside. We don´t work all year long to make somebody else rich. If there is a payday, we are at the front of the line. If we do extraordinary work, that work wil benefit our bank accounts. Not the bank accounts of some major corporation and a few overpaid upper management guys. And by being players of the game we are not only exposing ourselves to the yearly cah flows that our companies produce for us. By taking part of the game we are also exposed to the balance sheet side of things. As the value of the balance sheet of the company rises so does the value of our holdings in it. Some day in the future somebody might want to aquire our company for a premium price. And that´s just another aspect of the serious upside that is present for an entrepreneur. Running your own business wil allow you to take out exactly what you put in. There is no middle management or other form of middle hands that the money needs to pass before it reaches you. There is less skimming but more responsibility. If you have what it takes, only the sky is the limit to what you can make.

We don´t do corporate bullshit. We don´t have to kiss anybody´s ass, we don´t have to lie, and we don´t have to pretend something that everybody knows is not true. We get to tell it like it is. And we are damn grateful that is the case. We get to operate in an environment where individuals still have freedom and self-respect. We don´t need to whisper the truth in some dark corner of the company office. We get to tell it like it is on the board meeting. We don´t need to be politically correct, and we don´t need to be political. We have the luxury of being blunt, to the point of being rude if we want to. But you can´t tell it like it is in the corporate world. Sometimes the truth is an enemy of the company, and if you unveil it you will get sacked. If you are too cute in a corporate environment you will be labelled as a troublemaker, and sooner or later you will get fired. But who´s going to fire us? We don´t get fired. Getting fired assumes there is someone who exerts any power or infleunce over you. The only ones who has power over us is ourselves. Perhaps some day we will fire ourselves, when we feel like it. But luckily for us that day has not arrived yet.

We are safe. We don´t rely on somebody else to provide an illusion of security for us. We have the security part of the equation covered. We have had some good years and some bad years as entrepreneurs. Fortunately we have put aside some money from the good years. We are not dependant on salary. We are not one paycheck away from the poorhouse, like so many employees are. In fact we are not dependant on getting a salary at all. Being employeed feels safe, but it is merely an illusion. The moment you give up control, the safety is not there anymore. And the employee gave away their control of the situation the moment that employment contract was signed. If you depend on someone else to provide safety for you, are you really safe? You might be. Then again, you might not be. The control is not yours. Somebody else is calling the shots and somebody else gets to decide how secure your safety measures really are. That´s not real safety. It may seem like it. It may feel like it. It may sound like it. But it isn´t.

We make our own rules. We don´t work inside a system. we build a system to work for us. We control our destiny. We control our time, and how we wish to dispose of it. When you are an employee somebody else controls the system you are operating in. Somebody else is calling the shots. You are merely a small piece being moved around on the board, but somebody else is making up the rules of the game. You are just a pawn, waiting for the your next move to be announced. You can´t take a week off just because you feel like it. You can´t take increase your salary, take a vacation or begin working with something else when you feel like it. You are part of a system. Somebody else´s system. And you have a rather limited say in what is going on around you. If you are forced to take part of a game for the better part of your life wouldn´t you rather control that game and make up all the rules. It´s your life we are talking about. Why would you let somebody else exert any control over it whatsoever? It just doesn´t make sense.

We don´t work for money. We work for time. When you are an employee you are trading your time away for money. You are trading away five out of every seven weekdays for coin. We do it the opposite way. We trade money for time. We will gladly pay someone to do the job for us if that means we can do what we like instead. If we want to we can take the day off. Or the week off. We receive passive income from a number of different sources. No matter what we do, money is pouring in. It might pour in a bit faster if we get busy, but if we take a vacation it still keeps pouring in. We get paid when we sleep, when we work out, and when we travel. Whatever we do, those income streams keep coming in, and adding up. Why give away your time for money when you can give money for somebody else´s time? Take your chance today and decide to take control of your financial future over the next couple of years. Make a plan that allows you to pay a one-time price for the privilege of never having to work for money again. What would you rather do? Work your butt off for 5 years for yourself, and enjoy the benefits from that work during the remainder of your life? Or work the next 50 years making somebody else rich? For us the choice was easy.

We are constantly evolving. We don´t get bored, understimulated or tired of our job. Why would we. We get to do a lot of different things over the course of a day. We learn new things every day. We can truly say this: you will learn more in 1 year as an entrepreneur than you will during 10 years of being an employee. We know this is true. We have tried both sides of the story. When we were employees we did mainly 4 or 5 different tasks over and over again. Our jobs involved calling people on the phone, meeting people in real life, negotiating, analyzing, and presenting. We would spend each day doing a combination of these tasks. It was exciting for a while. But eventually you get tired of it. Today we have 100 of different tasks in a day. We don´t really ever a chance to get tired of it, since we are doing so many different things all the time. Another thing that adds to the excitement is that we can see something through from start to finish. There is something magical about sticking with something through the whole process. to this very day it is our favourite thing to do and we are excited even thinking about it. Each time we do it we feel empowered. For a brief moment in time nothing seems impossible. To bring something from an idea to a finished product or service, and finally transform it all into lots of money is a fantastic feeling. And that feeling has less to do with the fact that we make lost of money in the process, and more to do with the fact that we get to work on the exciting process and try our ideas (the theory) against the reality (the practical application). It is the ultimate business chess board where you start out with an opening (an idea), you take that opening into the middle game (convert the idea into action), and finally take the middle game into a winning endgame (transforming your actions into money). When you get to do the check mate (count the money) you realize its not really about the money. It´s about the game. The game, and the passion for that game. Everything else is just noise.

We can retire early. An employee can retire early. If they only save for the next 4 or 5 decades and the stock market doesn´t go bananas it´s possible. But wouldn´t you rather retire while you are still young? Or perhaps semi-retire, where you get to be involved in your companies as much or as little as you like but somebody else is doing the majority of the grunt work. Wouldn´t you rather take long vacations and only be involved in the exciting and thrilling parts of running a business. Wouldn´t you rather count the money and spend it, than work hard for it and trade your time for it? Why work the better part of your life for somebody else and retire when you get old? Why not retire while you are still young? The choice is yours. You either become somebody else´s slave for 4 or 5 decades or you become a pirate for 5 years taking orders from nobody else but yourself. You either get enough money to retire when you´re too old to enjoy it, or you get really rich while you´re relatively young with lots of years to spend the money and enjoy the fruits of your hard labour. You either see retirement as the opportunity to see more of your children when they are grown-ups, or you see retirement as an opportunity to see your children grow up before your very eyes. The choice is yours. Whatever you choose, we wish you a long, beautiful retirement. You deserve it.

We have “Screw you money”. We kneel to no one. We don´t need to answer to no one. Our universe may not be big, but we are masters in it as opposed to being slaves. We don´t need any Machiavellian schemes to navigate through the food chain, because we are already firmly seated at the top of it. We don´t have to do anything. We can do stuff if we feel like it. We can say no to deals worth millions if we don´t feel like it. There is a concept called “screw you money”, or “F_ you money” or “drop dead money”. It is an amount of money that would allow you to tell your boss or somebody offering you a deal to drop dead or screw themselves if you wanted to. “Screw you money” is the amount that enables people to tell it like it is without living in fear of being fired or rejected. It´s the amount that allows you to keep your integrity as opposed to sekking approval and a meal ticket. For some “screw you money” is equivalent to the amount of money that would enable them to maintain their current lifestyle without the need to work ever again. For others´”screw you money” is simply so much money you don´t have to worry about money anymore, regardless of how much you spend. We define “screw you money” somewhere in between. It doesn´t need to be an obscene amount of money. But it needs to be enough to be able to live a very comfortable lifestyle for the rest of your life, without taking into account any appreciation of your capital. However you define it, it is nice to have. It allows you to do what you like, and it lest you tell others what you think. If you get the urge to tell someone to f_ off, you could. Because you have just the ticket for it.

We follow our dreams. We would do the work we do for free. Fortunately enough for us, we get paid for our efforts. What we are saying is that we love what we do. We get to express ourselves in a way which would be impossible in a corporate environment. Even if we had a similar job in a big corporation we wouldn´t be able to do what we do. Nobody would allow us to be masters of our own fate. Nobody would let us change the course of our whole company just on a whim. Nobody would let us stop doing our work and start doing some other work entirely, just because we felt like it. We have a huge freedom in our work, but as is always the case, with freedom comes responsibility. We have to make sure the money comes in. We have to survive and thrive. But as long as we do that, we are allowed to get really creative, maybe even a bit carried away. As long as the money keeps coming in we have complete artistic freedom in trying to reach for our dreams. And as long as the money keeps coming in we have the means necessary to pursue our dreams as well. Following your dreams could cost you a fortune, but not following your dreams will cost you a lifetime of wondering “what if?”. We are blessed in that we are able to do what we want and get paid good money for it. We think every individual should try to reach that stadium. The quality of life it allows is truly humbling. Perhaps Chinese philosopher Confucius expressed it best:

Find a job you love and you´ll never work a day in your life.

That´s it. Those are our main war cries in support of being an entrepreneur. They may not be complete and you may not agree with (all of) them, but they give an accurate representation of how we feel about it. They are based on our experiences as both employees and entrepreneurs. We have believed along these lines for the last couple of decades. In fact, the more time that passes by, the more we have found that these theories do indeed stand the test of time. So there you have it Steve. Those are the main reasons we love what we do, and we wake up each morning with tremendous excitement and a stupid grin on our face. And those are the main reasons that we can think of no better way to live our lives.






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