Defying Odds

Entrepreneur is a sexy word in our American society today.  For many young dreamers, it creates an image of freedom, fulfillment, excitement, success, fame, and financial prosperity.  But for some of those in the throws of entrepreneurship, it has come to mean stress, debt, overtime, deadlines, margins, sleepless nights, and trying to find trustworthy people to work with.

I still believe in the dream of entrepreneurship.  I feel that our economy benefits from entrepreneurial endeavors.  The corporation is dead or at least, in the process of dying.  People are drawn to the passion, excitement, and intimacy that comes with being a part of a new startup; a new dream with a new vision, writing a new story.

Unfortunately, according to Bloomberg, a whopping 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs fail within their first 18 months.  That’s eighty percent!  Now, keep in mind that many famously successful entrepreneurs today, had their fair share of failures before hitting it big.  In my opinion, a true entrepreneur is a permanent entrepreneur and will never give up no matter how many times failure hits.  With persistence and purpose, failure is just a stepping stone towards success.

There are many who naively approach entrepreneurship and receive a rude awakening.  Even if they manage to survive their first year, it is very likely that they are not experiencing the freedom and financial prosperity that they envisioned.
Their business consumes their time, their mind, and their money.  This happens for various reasons; the main one being that they have to juggle different hats and roles that come with running a business, and the catch is that most of those roles are not aligned with their personal strengths.  They end up spending the majority of their time working “in” their business instead of “on” their business.

As I said earlier, I am all for the entrepreneurial spirit.  In fact, if someone hates their corporate job working for “the man”, I am the first one to ask about their dreams, gifts, and passions to see if I can point them to a more life giving path.  Life is too short to waste it building someone else’s dream, a dream that doesn’t inspire you at all.  At least go find someone to follow (or work with) whose dream aligns with yours!

I am also quick to advise people to think critically about what it takes to be profitable with their new endeavor.  I am all for entrepreneurship, but I think that too many people jump into something without fully understanding the bigger picture.  A conversation with another owner in a similar business would quickly enlighten anyone to some of the realities that come with “making it” in that niche.

If you have entrepreneurial dreams, I advise you to think through a few different things before you chart out your course.  Before we choose the business vehicle or model, let’s consider some of the ideal traits for a new business… 1) Low start up cost. 2) Portable. 3) Highly Profitable. 4) Leveraged Income, which is income not based on your time. 5) Fun! 6) Plays to your strengths.  Decide which of these are most important to you.  Now, you can choose your vehicle!  This could be a traditional brick and mortal store, a franchise, eCommerce, network marketing, affiliate marketing, consulting, real estate, or information business.  I personally am a supporter of network marketing, affiliate marketing, and information business because these three all have low start up costs, are extremely portable, easily have leveraged income, and if you do it right, can be highly profitable.

Again, the goal is to create your own dream, build your own value, and enjoy the fruits of it. Don’t think the only way to make a living is to push buttons for someone else!

Synergy

I’m finding that one of the greatest helpers of entrepreneurialism is community.  Not all community of course.  I’ve had community my entire life and was never motivated to be entrepreneurial until very recently.  But now that I’m starting to connect more and more with like-minded individuals the benefits are quite immediate.

The life of the entrepreneur is one of constant struggle and grind.  It doesn’t have to be, always, but certainly it comes with the job.  In these circumstances community with others going through the same difficulties, persevering through the same challenges and conquering the same mountains is very encouraging.  Attitude is everything, as I’ve said before, and it is also contagious.  Rather than constantly lifting your own attitude out of sheer will  you can be lifted, and lift others in turn.

I was recently very down and discouraged.  Life, you know?  As I always say there is always a reason to cry, whether or not something immediately happened to you or not.  There just is always a reason.  I wasn’t crying, but I was bummed, and was uplifted by a fellow entrepreneur.  He’s in a very different niche than I am, but his vast experience running his own business (over 26 years) was a well of encouragement and wisdom to me.  He’s a roofer and specializes in all things roofing.  If you happen to be in Orange County, CA and need a roofing contractor, call roof repair Orange County.  And that’s just one experience of many.

The other wonderful benefit of entrepreneur friends is the opportunity for commerce.  Regularly situations arise where mutual back-scratching is very beneficial.  We all have different talents and interests and they seem to overlap very often.  It’s been awesome!

I hope as I gain success and experience that I can bless other adventurers like myself, pass on the wisdom that has helped me so much.

Turning Wheel

So the grind is still on.  I’ve still got my head and shoulders down, legs driving, spit and sweat dripping off my face as I struggle against the mountainous load in front of me.

Every inch, every step, is a lifetime of struggle.  Every breath feels like the last.

For every victory there are ten failures, but that’s the struggle.  The wheel I’m pushing isn’t a load of work.  It isn’t an amount of writing on a keyboard.  It isn’t getting up at 4 a.m.  It isn’t raising a daughter or being a husband.

That’s all gravy.

This cold, heartless, enormous wheel that I push and grind and struggle and fight against is my attitude.

My attitude is the hardest thing to control and is the greatest betrayer of my immaturity.  It sways in the wind, picking up the slightest breeze.  Sometimes it’s so sensitive I think it has a life all its own, fleeting, moving, swaying at its own whim.  It often feels like I have no control over it at all.  In fact, the times where I feel in control are as fleeting as smoke.

I’ve been caught off guard by this.  All the sayings, platitudes and proverbs about attitude have only caused me to drop my guard concerning it.  Maybe it was all the rhyming?

Be that as it may, my attitude has become my greatest adversary.  And that’s a shame, because it is quite powerful.  It’s the most powerful foe I’ve faced yet.

Yet for that reason the prospect of convincing it to join my team (at least for longer stretches of time) is all the more necessary.

Already I’m bloody, bruised, out of breath and scarred by this primal battle of will and attitude.  The flesh on my shoulders is in tatters, raw and worn.  My clothes are stained and ripped.  My knuckles are raw and calloused from all the fighting.

But what if my attitude was on my side and together we could tackle the world?  That’s an idea to hold on to.  Maybe it could even change my attitude.

Hustle Muscle

Hustle muscle.  Heard the term?  Maybe you have, maybe you haven’t.

I once heard a man talk about his hustle muscle.  As creepy as that sounds I assure you it wasn’t creepy at all.  He was saying that given a cell phone and a gmail account that he could produce wealth for himself anywhere in the world.

This particular man is extremely wealthy and was theorizing about what would happen if it was all taken from him.  So he said all he needs is a phone and a gmail account and he could produce wealth.

Why?

Because of his hustle muscle.  Hustle muscle is the ability to work hard and work smart in the face of adversity and competition.  It’s the ability to see beyond your present circumstances to a more promising future, not just to feel good about yourself but to actually be enabled to make the future a reality.

I’m working on my hustle muscle and it sure aint easy to do.  I guess I’ve never been a hustler, per se.  I mean, I’ve always hustled but only in the athletic realm!  I was the hardest worker on every baseball team I ever played on.  That’s the truth.  And now that I don’t play baseball I hustle in the weight room.  It’s easy for me to hustle physically.

But hustling in the world of business?  The world of making money?  That’s a whole other ball game that I’ve just begun to  step into.  And, to say the least, it’s one hundred percent terrifying.

But I’m committed to my dream, I’m committed to my skill set, and I’m committed to hustling, even though my muscle is weak, atrophied and all but gone.

But it’s time to hit the weights baby.  It’s time to grow that muscle and produce wealth, security and ultimately food for my family.

There’s a movie starring Matt Damon and Edward Norton called Rounders.  In the film Damon and Norton are fantastic gamblers.  It’s an art form that they use to make money.

But they’re young, hot headed and very risky players.  They have a contemporary who is just as good but older and more tempered.  Damon takes some massive risks and winds up almost dead.  In a chilling scene he’s confronted by the older gambler who is asking Damon what he’s thinking, to put it nicely.

Damon turns on him and accuses him of playing in fear and never taking risks.  The man responds with a killer line- “My kids eat!”.  That really struck me.  He puts food on the table and truly puts his family first.

So now it’s my turn.  My kids will eat.  And that’s that.

Entrepreneurs

The word “entrepreneur” couldn’t be a worse description of who I’ve been my entire life.

I didn’t hustle in school (maybe hustled a wee bit in college), have never been driven by goals, have never cared about money.

My parents aren’t entrepreneurial, I’ve never been close to an entrepreneur and I’ve never really been close to “money”.  My family is full of brilliant people.  My parents are both brilliant, dad has a PhD, sisters are smarter than me, grandfather has a PhD, aunt has a PhD, uncle has a PhD, other aunt was a nurse and her husband is a computer genius.

Down the line you go and you’ll find amazing thinkers.  But none of them ever really made money.  I wasn’t poor, per say.  We lived very meekly growing up but always had food on the table.  Mom makes six figures and is the biggest earner in the entire extended family.

But never have I been around anyone chasing money.  And don’t get hung up on the term money, please.  Chasing money can have a negative connotation especially among Christian circles like mine.  Maybe that explains some of my “money blocks”.  I’ll get to that in another post though.

Perhaps the one person who made and makes money is my uncle, my dad’s step brother, Joe.  He’s been in landscaping for maybe thirty five years or more and makes plenty of cash.  Joe hustles big time.  He’s a super hard worker and a great salesmen.  A deadly combo.

Joe has passed his talents on to his son Andy, my cousin.  Andy now runs his own landscaping company that his doing just fine.  His company, Sage Scapes, is on its way to being the best landscaping company in Central Oregon.

Unfortunately for me Andy and Joe live about a fourteen hour drive away and are in a totally different industry.  But I’d say they’re the most driven people in my family and I need to tap into their appetite for work and growth!

This is only an intro into who I am.  More posts are to come getting into the nitty gritty of the journey to manhood.  Talk to you soon.