I have always heard that saying, “an entrepreneur is a person who will work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week for someone else”.
As an entrepreneur, it’s always stuck in my craw a little bit (how’s that for a Will and Grace reference?)
I consider myself to be efficient and hard working, but I don’t like it when I spend too much time working for my dollars. As a photographer, when I was first learning my camera, shooting techniques, and editing skills, I was spending way too much time cleaning up photos for the dollars I was charging. I had myself working for something like $5 an hour, and that was unacceptable and incredibly frustrating. I knew I needed to work at getting better images in camera. I knew I needed to get a faster editing system in place, and I knew I needed to charge more.
So I did. All of that. And more.
I’m a doer, not a procrastinator, and I pride myself on worker smarter, not harder. So the thought that I might be working harder for myself simply because I am working for myself, well, it’s irritating to me. I don’t want to believe I’m doing that, but I have to admit, sometimes I do feel like I’m working constantly! I can put in whole days on the couch with the laptop, in the middle of being a mom, PLUS full evenings at my studio, and I still feel like I’m spinning my wheels, not getting the list accomplished.
Didn’t I start my own business to have more freedom, more time, the ability to work and earn money but still be a mother too?
Well, yes. But here’s the thing: working for myself isn’t just punching in, doing a task, and getting paid before going home again. Working for myself is SO much more. I don’t mean more WORK - yes, there’s a ton of other things like websites and accounting - more work, for sure. But there’s MORE of me, too.
When I used to work for other people, I’d learn my job really quickly, and get really good at it. I did it faster, more efficiently, and with more positive energy than most. And my employers saw that. So much so, that they never wanted to move me from those jobs because they knew they couldn’t replace me very easily. So while I was hoping to grow, expand, and find upward mobility within the organizations that hired me, I often ended up feeling stuck, no longer challenged, and like an insufficient cog in a wheel with nowhere to go.
I typically sought employment elsewhere, since I wasn’t moving where I was. I was always looking for the next thing to learn, the next challenge to accomplish, the next step UP. My family and other potential employers saw me as a job-hopper, someone who didn’t stick with a job for too long. I disagreed. I felt like 6 months or a year was pretty sufficient time to give to a particular position with no prospects for promotion.
I didn’t like that perception others had of me, but I wasn’t going to be pigeon-holed into the same position for 10 years, either. If I had to be labeled as a job-hopper, so be it. They didn't understand what I was doing. I wasn't bouncing around aimlessly from job to job, unfulfilled. I took what I learned at each job and applied it toward improving my skills set. I got better jobs each and every time, and I moved up the "ladder" much faster than I would have if I'd stayed content as a cog.
When I finally got brave enough to start my own business, that’s when everything changed. I started learning more about the sales funnel, more about marketing to my ideal client, and I learned about getting into the mindset of my ideal consumer. I had to learn to get over my shyness to start talking with more people, networking, and putting myself out there. I learned about facing my own insecurities as an artist and creative business owner, to figure out how to charge my worth and KNOW without a doubt I deserved it and had every right to charge for my efforts. I started learning technical skills to make the most of my camera, my laptop, my iPad and my cell phone. I learned about creative techniques to bring out my talents and present them more beautifully to the world. I taught myself about commercial properties, commercial leases, commercial insurance, and commercial real estate transactions. I taught myself about incorporation, protection of my assets, and suing in small claims court. I spend each and every day learning, doing, and soaking in every morsel I possibly can.
I am not, in fact, spinning my wheels, ever. I am building my arsenal DAILY. I am expanding and reaching out in so many directions, all at once, every single week. I am not working the equivalent of 80 hours. (As if my children would ever give me that many hours to work!) I am experiencing the equivalent of three or four careers at one time. I am living a thousand lifetimes inside the one I’ve been given, and I will never regret, recant, or disregard the awesomeness of that opportunity.
Entrepreneurship is everything!