You might be an entrepreneur if…you’ve worked multiple Christmas days. And not just Christmas, but every other holiday as well.
There’s a common myth that owning your own business means setting your own hours, making lots of money, taking vacations whenever you want to, etc. The truth is that when you own your own business you are a strange sort of slave, especially if your business is in startup mode. While I hope that someday my lifestyle can match society’s misconceptions, it’s been seven years and I don’t feel like I’m anywhere close to it yet.
Some people might call working on Christmas a choice, and a poor one at that. But I ask you, if you’re a business owner who’s got payroll coming up on the 1st of January, you’re $50K short of making it, and you have the power to do something about it but it will require putting in 8-10 hours on Christmas, are you going to sit around opening gifts or are you going to do everything possible to make sure you’ve got payroll ready on the 1st? Sure, maybe you can do both, and maybe you can’t. Maybe you can spend some time with family, and maybe you can’t because your principal web server has just gone down, and you can’t put that kind of thing off for a few hours because you’re losing money every minute until it comes back up.
As an employee you do reasonable things for your employer. You work normal hours, and in a pinch you might put in some extra time. Some people are required to work on Christmas, but they generally know this ahead of time, and they get paid for it. As an entrepreneur you might not know that you’ll be working Christmas until you wake up and see that an emergency happened during the night. Are you going to call your employees to take care of it if you can take care of it yourself? Unlikely. Are you going to get a bonus for working on Christmas or overtime pay? No, your only reward is that things return to normal rather than emergency status. Nobody will recognize your sacrifice unless you go out of your way to tell them, which is lame. I mean, it’s lame to go and tell your employees how hard you were working to get them their paychecks, not that it’s lame to write on a blog about it…well, ok, maybe it is lame either way, but I’ll risk being lame to bring the truth to you, faithful reader.
Next time you’re thinking of starting a business, ask yourself if you’re willing to work the next few Christmas days. Ask yourself if your spouse is willing to accept you rushing to the office at 10am and staying there until midnight. You might think it’s a choice you can make and nobody is going to force you to do what you don’t want to do, but you might feel differently come Christmas morning when the future of your business hangs in the balance.