You might be an entrepreneur if…you hire an accountant and after looking at your books they come in with a frantically worried look on their face and say “You’re going out of business!” and you calmly smile and say “No, that’s just how we’ve been running the business for the past two years, it’s nothing new.”
This is based on a real experience that happened 1-2 years into my business when we were located down in Provo, Utah on Center Street. Here’s how it all went down as best I can remember the details.
By this point in our business we had gotten to the point where we realized we were going to be operating on the edge for a while and it was nothing to us. We routinely were short $10K of making payroll on the day of payroll, and then somehow we would get the money that very day and be able to make it. We were used to running a business that way.
We were also learning something about how to properly take care of our books. Accounting, even for a very small business, can be a nightmare. I can’t imagine how complicated the books of a public company with 50,000 employees must be. We hired a new guy to come in and clean up our books and make sure they were organized and correct and such. At the time, our “accounting room” was at the back of the office while we had our offices up front. We sat the guy down at the computer in the back room, and returned to our offices, assuming he’d come up in a few hours and let us know if he was done or had any questions.
About 20 minutes later he came rushing up to our offices in a panic. “You guys are going out of business!” he exclaimed. Alarmed, we hurried with him to the back room. He started showing us financial statements, bank statements, etc. After a few seconds we realized he wasn’t showing us anything we didn’t know about, and indeed our financial statements and bank statements had looked like this since we had started the business. Once we understood the situation we laughed while he looked at us in confusion and we told him “No, we’re not going out of business, that’s just how we run our business. We’ve been running this way for the past year and we’re still here.”
He didn’t seem very reassured, but he seemed to grasp that while our business practices were foreign to him, somehow it worked for us, and he returned to his work.
What that experience taught me, which is a lesson I’ve learned many times since, is that even though somebody might have had a lot of business experience, what they haven’t experienced dwarfs the experience they have, and if you continue in business for 80 years you’ll probably still have experiences that surprise you. Without wanting to dis anyone, if you haven’t had the experience of running a business on the edge for an extended period of time, I’m not sure you’ve truly experienced what it’s like to be an entrepreneur.