Like Shark Tank’s Lori Greiner says, “Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week.” Tim Ferriss of “The 4-Hour Workweek” would disagree, but I’m with Lori. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you’ll have to first understand–really understand–how you’ll be working more hours than you probably worked in any other job. Once you truly grasp that, your next challenge will be to explain your insane schedule to the people in your life. And that’s what this post will address.
As an entrepreneur, you’ll wear many hats (all of which you will have to design, order and keep track of). Especially at first–and potentially for several years–you’ll be doing some of the what the classic business book The E-Myth calls the “technician” work. In my case, that consists of doing makeup for clients, ordering the products I need, taking makeup artistry classes, etc. Especially if your career involves services instead of products, you will likely be providing services or covering for employees who provide them at some point. Unless you have a business partner who handles the admin side or an admin assistant from Day 1, you’ll spend a lot of time doing the admin and management tasks. Depending on your industry, that role could include any or all of the following: client/customer communication, vendor communication, invoicing, receiving payments, paying bills, ordering office/store products or supplies, scheduling appointments or deliveries, interviewing job candidates, hiring personnel, firing personnel, payroll, marketing, communicating with your accountant, communicating with your attorney and approximately 27,000 other tasks (that’s a low estimate). And as the owner of the company, throw in time spent on building the brand, making major decisions regarding the direction of the company, constantly re-evaluating systems amd protocols and growing the business via new locations, products and/or services.
So if someone says “Are you working tomorrow?” resist the urge to strangle them. Until/if you have the personnel to cover all of the technician and managerial/admin work, a true day off is unlikely. But it’s unfair to expect your friends and family to know that. I don’t think I would have known it if I hadn’t spent most of my pre-AB Beauty years working in small businesses. And even then, I didn’t really get it until I opened my own company.
I think a lot of people only understand jobs in a black or white way. If you’re not doing something they consider a job, they don’t think you’re working. An all-jobs-are-black-and-white person looks at a teacher and thinks “They only work 7:00am-2:00pm Monday through Friday, and they get summers off.” Nope! They have lesson plans to make and supplies to shop for after school hours, as well as meetings and continuing ed that can’t be done during the school day. Many of them are in the building a few weeks before the school year starts setting up their classroom. (I’m probably missing a lot of responsibilities–this is just what I’ve observed from my time as a school secretary and what I’ve heard from teachers I know). So can we agree that their job consists of more than just the time they are in a classroom with their students?
With my job, which is actually a few jobs (makeup artist, manager, business owner), some people think that if I’m not with clients, I’m not working. In reality, the majority of my 80+ hour workweek is spent managing and growing my business, not doing makeup. I live in Charleston, SC for a few months in the winter and several people–including some friends and relatives–have asked me if I work while I’m there. It’s truly flattering that they think I’m doing well enough that I could go on a three month vacation. But of course I’m working! Because I don’t really take clients while I’m there, I guess some people think that means I just hang out, drink bourbon and eat grits (I wish). What they don’t think about–and this no one’s fault if it’s never been explained to them–is how a business doesn’t run itself. Because I don’t have an admin assistant or business partner–which is the case for many entrepreneurs, at least for a span of time–I do all of the client communication, job schedules, bridal trial coordinating, client invoices, contracts, paying Independent Contractors, managing my team, marketing, coming up with new business ideas, consulting with attorneys and accountants, buying what is needed for our studio and some of those 27,000 other things every day. I don’t expect anyone to understand that until I explain it, and I suggest you have them same outlook if you’re your own boss.
When you do explain it, don’t be a jerk about it. It can easily come off in a condescending “I’m busier than you and my job is more important” way. And that’s not true. It’s just that you decided to open your own business, and that comes with a grueling schedule for a while (if you want to succeed, anyway). If you can clearly–and nicely–communicate to the people you are closest to that you work every day, even if you’re not with clients/customers, you’ve done all you can do with this one.
Have a beautiful day 🙂