As business owners, my wife and I often have people say things like, “I wish I could quit my job and do what I love, like you.”
And while I believe that there might be a part of them that wishes they were free of the tedium and frustrations of their nine-to-fives, I don’t think they actually want to start their own business.
Otherwise, they would have done it.
But instead, most people sit in their cubicles and put up with their micromanaging bosses, annoying coworkers, and migraine-inducing fluorescent lights because it’s safe.
And honestly, it’s probably best that way. Because if stability and security are important to them at all, the life of a business owner is not for them at all.
Fact of the matter is, most business owners are very familiar with being broke.
Before my wife and I quit our jobs, we were living the high life. My record collection expanded by leaps and bounds. We ate at the best restaurants. We had a good insurance plan. We had a nice cushion in our savings account, with only a few student loans that we were paying back
But when we quit, all that disappeared.
Taco Bell became a luxury. We grew accustomed to the taste of Dollar Store macaroni. We haven’t been to the doctor in four years.
Our savings account dwindled as we dipped into our nest egg to cover bills. When that dried up, we had to turn to credit cards—credit cards that we couldn’t always afford to pay.
When we launched our business, our credit was in shambles. We got a business loan to help open the shop—and a personal loan to help us pay it back.
I worked some odd jobs here and there. I worked part time in a packing and shipping store. I sold vintage action figures on eBay. I worked for a non profit. I was on-call for a residential children’s center. I spent months working third shift in a factory.
Through all of this, my wife spent sixty to eighty hours a week on the shop, all unpaid. My odd jobs just barely paid the bills. Sometimes, they didn’t. At one point, we even applied for food stamps.
But if you’re serious about following your dreams, that’s what it costs.
The freedom that comes with owning your own business comes at a high price. It requires you to give up your comfort, your peace of mind, your everyday luxuries.
It will bring you to the very brink of poverty. It will hold your ankles and dangle you over the ledge, threatening you with destitution and failure.
And it will prove itself to be worth it.
In the last four years, many tears have been shed in our household. There have been many late nights marked with anxiety and fear.
But never once have we regretted it.
Working for ourselves has cost us just about everything. We’ve been late on our mortgage, we’ve been hours away from having our electricity shut off. I’ve had to sell instruments.
It has robbed us of all stability and fiscal certainty.
But that is no great loss.
Not compared to the freedom of living the kind of life that we truly want to live, free of anyone else determining our fates for us.
It is a high price to pay, but if you can afford it, it will be worth it.