Saturday, 21 November 2020 23:56

Having a Business, a Public Persona and NO LIFE Featured

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I haven't really slept last night...
Since early evening, as I was doing my laundry on a clear warm Friday evening that was stunningly perfect for end-of-week sundowners which, mind you, I cannot afford to have, have no way to attend or let alone host, I have been wondering...
Not saying that I would just give up and stop doing what I'm doing, but...
 

Maybe, just maybe, I would have been a whole lot happier in my personal life if I was working full time for a company than constantly being out on a limb trying to survive as an entrepreneur while also using my skills, my network and my access to different media platforms in trying to make a difference in society.
 
 
OK perhaps I should warn you that though I do have quite adequate business management qualifications, I am no certified guru, my own business is limping along, I'm broke so definitely not yet successful, but this might just help someone understand that entrepreneurship can for many be a long lonely road with sacrifices you would not ever have imagined.
Though I'm writing this from my own personal perspective as a (hopefully not alone for too very long anymore) single straight guy,  I am hoping that much of what I have to say will find some resonance with you irrespective of your assigned gender, your gender orientation or your relationship status.
 
 
LOOKING BACK OVER A DECADE OF HAVING A BUSINESS, A PUBLIC PERSONA AND NO LIFE
I have always had little business endeavours going on on the side since I was a teen, so for the past twelve years I have not been permanently employed and was trying to build myself as a business owner and as a brand. I have had a few small contract employment engagements in between but never with the intention of becoming a permanent employee and never with the idea of giving up on my business.
Keep in mind that my business has since its wobbly start over a decade ago always been a means to subsidise my societal impact endeavours.
 
 
To me this was the very, very first time this question even crossed my mind in terms of my personal life. I have of course at times, in fact many times before, thought of it purely in terms of my chronic financial not-so-well-being, and it was always an adamant conclusion that "money is not the most important thing to me".
Oh and it still isn't the most important thing to me but I am sure as hell learning how important it really it is as you will see further below, but that is only part of the whole.
 
 
Well, as for the question of my personal life...
Viewed from most of the possible angles it suddenly looked like a whole decade has gone wasted for me, and I spent most of the night contemplating that.
I would doze off and before sleep would fully set in, I'd be a ball of rushing questions and turmoiled emotions, even at times getting very close to shedding tears.
 
Granted that in the past decade I have been able to do and have experienced some absolutely amazing things, mostly because of my work on different media platforms, very few of those things I got to do and experience were ever on my own dime, and though I could say yes or no, I could never say When and only sometimes I had a say about who I'd be doing those things with.
 
 
Of course this onset of a combination of shocking realisation, contemplative introspection and just downright sadness was long-pull triggered by conversations I had over the past few weeks with different people and just from seeing people becoming increasingly more social as society is opening up after the strict Covid-19 lockdowns we had.
It slowly dawned on me that I Have No Life.
 
 
So last night some things invariably almost tipped over the bucket of tears that has been filling up drop by unnoticed drop over the last decade. Small little cries that luckily have all only dropped as one or two tiny tears over the years and I have now only really figured out what lies behind them.
Oh, and in case you're thinking that there will now be a deluge of miserable sobbing, then maybe I haven't been clear in saying that those tears in the bucket have already been cried, and I never knew why.
Be assured that I won't cry those same tears twice.
 
 
SOFT SQUEEZE ON THE TRIGGER
It may possibly seem trivial and even laughable to some of you but...
Friday afternoon all I could see was different people on my social media, most of whom I have met before and some who I even personally know very well were either preparing for or doing enjoyable things that are quite normal for them and was at some time quite normal for me too.
 

No I wasn't jealous or envious of them, but was literally calculating the value of my existence, not in terms of how others perceive my value in society or my value in their lives but the value of my existence in terms of my personal happiness.
I came up short.
 
What's more is that I came to realise that all these things that people were doing yesterday and last night and that many people who I know personally are doing fairly regularly, are things I used to also do regularly and for that they either need to be earning a salary or have a successful business.
 
 
That set in motion a few trains of thoughts that made me realise I missed certain seemingly positive things I truly enjoyed about the days I worked for a boss and was earning a fairly decent salary.
Now I can't say whether any of those people either work for themselves or whether they work for a boss, but what they were all out doing and posting about made me think... a lot!
 
 
IN MOVING FORWARD YOU COULD GET LEFT BEHIND
Only a few new entrepreneurs are lucky to hit the sweet spot right off the bat.
Only a few start off with a more than adequate capital injection that allows them to maintain their lifestyle while they work on the new business becoming profitable.
Many new entrepreneurs fail and go back to working for a boss.
What is true for most is that they start off by giving up everything they have and move from one setback on to the next before hopefully becoming successful, so that left me with a question.
 

Do all not-yet-successful entrepreneurs go through this thing of at times feeling left behind in life?
I mean, it must look really exciting, all of these seemingly wonderful things I do and which people often compliment me on but is it really worth it to have no personal life?
Do others also wonder if working for a boss would give them a better shot at personal happiness?
 
 
OK maybe I seem ungrateful to have these thoughts since I have been privileged to have attended an uncountable number of super awesome celebrity events, went on amazing trips and even got to go on little vacations over the past decade, and through all of that I continue meeting truly wonderful people, building great friendships and a fantastic network, and those are all things that I would not have been able to do if I was working for a boss.
 
 
I was also able to genuinely make a huge impact on people's lives, sometimes loudly and vociferously making noises that at times changed the lives of whole groups of people all at once, or sometimes even silently and very discretely do things for individuals whose lives are now so much better because of what I do.
All of that is through using my access to media platforms in all its forms, and mobilising the many amazing people in my network which I would not have had if I had worked full time for a boss.
Oh and no, I'm not just only talking about a social media network, but very much more about people I can phone up to get them involved directly in solving an issue for someone in need.
There is no way working full-time for a boss would allow any of that to be possible.
 
 
So yeah, that all seems great and wonderful, but...
My actual business had very slow steady growth over the first half of the decade and after that it's had some sporadic periods of good growth, and in 2018 I finally fully registered the business but for various external factors it was in a serious slump late 2019 well before the Coronavirus pandemic took off, and now it's just barely getting by.
Of course it is extremely stressful but that's not what I'm writing about.
We're looking at a whole decade of sacrifices and whether or not it is worth it.
 
 
SO WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO SACRIFICE?
I have for the past decade never really had the time or money to do anything I really want to do, when I want to do it and with who I want to do it.
In fact I rarely even get to do any of the most simplest things I have always loved doing.
 
I have a billiards cue that hasn't seen a pool table in over ten years.
I have karate gi in my cupboard and I was prepared to go start at the bottom with a full contact dojo and most lilkely get brutally beaten up by little kids at least once a week.
I can't remember which beach I last went to alone on my own or where I had a choice of where, when and who to take with me.
The last few times at the beach I was a tag-along, and other times I had gigs at beachfront or resort venues and I had to be there either way.
I haven't been able to read as many books of my own choosing as I used to because I have to read what I need for research or for self-study purposes, before I can read whatever I want to read for the sheer pleasure of reading.
I haven't been writing as much fictional stories, poetry or music as what I would love to because I am too busy writing or editing articles about real life issues.
I haven't...
What the heck... I'm sure you get the picture.
 
 
The point is that when I worked full time, there was an actual budget for "going out and having fun" or for whatever activities I felt like doing whenever I wanted to.
Now anything I spend any money on is very seldom for the sake of simply having a good time and only occasionally can I do something to spoil myself and on the rare occasion spoil someone special.
 
 
DATES ARE JUST FRUIT THAT GROW ON PALM TREES
Romantic relationships rely on more than love and fresh air, and dating by its very nature requires you to go on actual dates.
When you work for a boss and earn a salary you will make a plan in your budget.
Working for yourself you cannot just grab cash out of your cash register simply because its there.
 
 
In the past decade almost all of what would have been 'expensive dates' I have been on were not because I have been able to afford to pay the tickets or foot the bill, but were in fact events where I was an invited VIP guest with the privilege of being able to bring a plus one, so the few times I had someone in my life, it would be her as the plus one and we'd make a real date of it.

I however have to add that most times the plus one would not even be my 'date' but a friend or colleague working in media or entertainment who I could share the networking opportunity with.

For other 'expensive dates' it was a case of friends saying let us take you and your girlfriend out and spoil you guys, or they would say bring along that lady who we know you like so much, and don't worry, we'll cover everything.
Yeah lucky me, but again... It was not on my own dime and not at my own chosen time.
 
 
When I was working for a boss, fancy nights out and going to events could be planned and budgeted for.
Yes, for the past decade small little dates and treats like having brunch or lunch at a shopping mall eatery could still be done, but it could never be regular and had to wait till there was a little extra, and before Uber, I would have to pay someone to drive us if it was at night, or make it a double date with friends who have a car.
Oh, and I am not at all averse to taking mini-bus taxis and would often times even take one to meet up with someone during the day, even did that for many years while I owned cars.
 
 
HOW IMPORTANT IS PERSONAL MOBILITY?
If your business does not need you to have a car, and you don't have one, your business can survive.
However, if you have been used to having one when you worked for a boss and you loved going out, but now you don't have a car, your personal life will take a painful hit.
If you do own a car and your car has a serious breakdown while you do not have the necessary cash flow in your business, it could stand still for a very very long time.
 
It is now a full decade that I do not own any vehicles, whereas I've always had one, and sometimes even two cars while working for a boss.
When I had full time employment, it was easy to save up for a good car bought cash and regularly keep trading it up for an even better one.
Mobility was important to me and it was budgeted for so that even on a Tuesday, in the last week before payday, I could go pick up a friend or a date, or even take a drive alone after work, and it could be anywhere, whether to the Atlantic Seaboard, to Franschoek or Stellenbosch or Gordons Bay and in summer be left with enough daylight hours for the start of a lovely evening and it was all on my own dime and at my own chosen time.
 
 
Now a few people may know that twice in the past decade I have been 'sponsored' with vehicles for a few months at a time, from friends who support what I do, and with no major strings attached, but those vehicles were never really going to be mine, so I tried to not enjoy them too much and used them almost exclusively for work because at some point I would have to give them back.
You simply don't go gallivanting in a car that isn't really yours.
 
Just take it from me, if all you have as an income is the business you have started, then if you don't have a car, it will be tough and if you do have one, your business will need to pay for maintaining that car.
 
 
What I'm really getting at here is that last night I became heavily conflicted by the realisation that the Material Life, Social Life, the Personal Life and Personal Mobility I had when I was working for a boss seems to have been so much better and I seem to have been so much more in control of my life than the dandy social high-life image of me that everyone who Doesn't Know gets to see.
 
 
YOU REALLY WANT TO BE YOUR OWN BOSS?
If you think that when I harped on about having no Personal Life that I was only talking about dating, then you are in for a little surprise.
The success of your personal life depends on the success of your business in ways you might not have imagined.
 
As an example, are you willing to start a business knowing that you won't be having the security of a salary, a pension and medical aid?
Here below are some of what you will be sacrificing.
 
 
THERE IS NO INCOME SECURITY
If you want to be entrepreneur who starts off with nothing much, you soon will find out how disheartening it is when you are working towards something that does not guarantee a pay check at the end of the month. Sometimes even when you do the work, and the check comes in, you still can't do certain things which in the past for you, or like for me over a decade ago, was normal for you when you worked for a boss, because you're not only playing catch-up with what was short last month but you gotta plan for just in case next month kicks you in the teeth again, no matter how secure your contracts for the months ahead look.
 

If you are just starting out or your business is not yet successful yet you have to carefully weigh up a using extra money you made for pleasure or for improving the cash flow situation of your business.
 
 
YOU ARE NOT AUTOMATICALLY COVERED
When you work for a boss, you may or may not have some form of cover for the future in the form of a pension fund, also possibly be in a medical aid scheme, and because you have a fixed monthly income, even if you don't have any cover, you can take out cover or take out extra cover to supplement the existing one.
When you start your business or when you are up and running you will not have cover, and if you take out cover, and there is a business setback, you could end up defaulting.
You might survive without any cover but...
Just don't get sick or worse, don't become disabled when you work for yourself and have no cover yet.
Oh and CEO's of new struggling business don't get paid sick leave.
 
 
YOU CAN'T INVEST WHAT YOU DON'T HAVE
If you have a still-struggling small business, it is absolutely horrendous when you at some stage did get to the point where you could make long term personal financial plans to secure your future and by extension also the future of your loved ones, and then suddenly with one major business setback you can see it all erode because of non-payment and you have to start it all from scratch again.
You have to ensure that your future is secured but be wise not to take out the kind policies that automatically become forfeited if you skip payments. Find something that allows you to take payment holidays.
 
 
YOU CAN'T MAKE PROMISES TO LOVED ONES
It's heartbreaking when your kid looked forward to something on a specific day and suddenly all of your payments from your few clients are coming through a few days late and you have to explain to your kid that you cant do anything until the money clears.
You cant really make promises to your family and your loved ones if you don't already have the cash set aside.
 
 
YOU DON'T HAVE A PAY DATE
You see, when you work for a boss the 25th is always the 25th unless its on a weekend cos then you get paid a day or two early, and after deductions and debit orders, you don't have to worry because what you budgeted for is there.
When your business is still new with a low bank balance, client payments are late and you don't have an overdraft, nothing you've planned can actually happen, whether it is business or personal.
 
 
CLIENT LOYALTY CAN CHANGE IN A FLASH
When you work for a boss, you know who you are competing with but office politics and backstabbing aside, you dont have to worry that your competitor at work will get paid by your company and that you wont.
In business you don't know if and when your client is looking to give your work to a competitor and leave you totally out in the cold.
You can't plan ahead simply based on the idea that clients will be loyal to you and give you their business for perpetuity.
 
 
YOUR SUCCESS COULD BE RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER... TEN YEARS FROM NOW.
Of course there are entrepreneurs who have made a great success in a very short time, and my own success could be right around the corner.
Still it ain't coming easy and meanwhile the simple pleasures in life that money from a regular salary could buy, for a whole decade has mostly been passing me by.
You have to regularly weigh up if you really want to make such hefty long term personal sacrifices.
 
 
MY MIND WAS MADE UP FOR ME
You see, though all of the things I was thinking since last night makes me feel quite sad and despondent, I ain't giving up that easily.
With all my ramblings and things I have said... with all the pain I feel about my non-existent personal life...
 

Would I go work full time for a boss again?
Well... Irrespective of the pay level... Unless it's a job that allows me to continue to actively pursue my own business interests and to continue to do what I do in trying to make a difference in people's lives, then it's a Hell No.
 
 
All of this internal drama suddenly befalling me this weekend led me to the self-therapy session of writing all of this and that gave me a renewed perspective.
It made me realise that the only way forward is to keep finding new ways to make my business a financial success.
 
 
The reason I started my business and do all the other things I do is so that I can make a living from doing the things I love, which I am really good at and which I would not be able to do if I was working for a boss.
 

The only thing I am sure of is that irrespective of the fact that I don't really have a personal life, I won't have a fulfilling life if I do not keep doing the work I love and my business is the best vehicle to do that.
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