When you think of an entrepreneur, the first image that pops into your mind could be a man in a black suit, getting out of a black car, driven by his own driver, going to a fancy all-glass building to his office. After he gets out of an elevator that reaches the 77th floor, a young and good-looking secretary approaches him, with a kind greeting. He enters his all-glass office, looking at his Rolex watch that shows 9 o’clock. When he sits in his black chair, turns to the window, focuses his eyes on the city, and drinks the first sip of an espresso, his workday officially begins.
Yes, it really looks like that, but only in the movies. The real entrepreneur’s day doesn’t start this way. Actually, it never starts, because it never ends.
If you think about being an entrepreneur, you should not watch movies about rich and successful guys. You have to look for real stories from people who run their own businesses. Their day-to-day stories are usually not so fancy.
In this article, I don’t want to bust the aforementioned myth by saying that we should create pictures of women entrepreneurs in our heads. That is a topic for some other article. I want to speak about the entrepreneur’s working time and free time, as well as to show the difference between being an employee and being an entrepreneur. Sometimes, the picture we create in our heads is not even close to the reality, but let’s start.
1. Contradiction: Entrepreneurs have more vacations, but less free time.
After I opened my eyes this morning, on the second day of my seventh vacation this year, the first thing I did was that I took my phone. I checked my email, voice mail, and social networks. I was upset when I saw that our client didn’t respond to three emails that we had sent, which means that my team is still not sure about the details of the project they should begin today. Then I left the bed and took a shower. This is how a real entrepreneur’s day begins.
During breakfast, I recorded 2 voice messages to my team, because voicemail is more efficient than writing an email. But, I did have to send an email to a client because it is not OK to send a voice message to a client. I don’t know how much time it took, because I did it without even perceiving it as work. Then, I went to the pool. Every time I got out and took the towel, I also checked my phone. If some message was important, I immediately responded. Before lunch, I made a few calls. In the afternoon, we took a quad tour.
In the evening, I quickly checked the reports for the clients and gave instructions to my team on what to correct. Then I had dinner. After dinner, I was inspired to write this article, and I spent an hour or two on writing. Before sleep, I will make a small to-do list for tomorrow.
I spent this summer day relaxing in a mountain resort, and I was walking through the woods, swimming in the pool, and driving the quad, but I was also completely involved in my company’s activities.
2. Contradiction: Entrepreneurs can work from everywhere, but they can’t go anywhere without their job.
It is very comfortable to skip going to the office which is far away from your home when it is raining outside. You can stay in bed, open your laptop, and do all your work. Also, it is very nice when you don’t have to refuse an invitation for an unplanned two-day vacation on the coast since you are not obliged to go to the office. You can simply wake up earlier and finish all your tasks before going to the beach.
But, what is the other side of the coin? Wherever you go, your team knows that you are still available for making important decisions. Wherever you go, you have a habit of being online, checking your emails, and being involved in working processes. It is very hard, practically impossible, to differentiate remote working from vacation.
When you become an entrepreneur, your company becomes your child, and it feels very strange to leave your child with a paid nanny and not even ask her if they ate well today.
3. Contradiction: Entrepreneurs have more opportunities to spend time with their family and friends whenever they need to, but their body is not always followed by their mind.
When you have a job with fixed working hours, you know that you are not allowed to spontaneously go for a walk with your childhood friend who is back in town just for a few hours. When you are your own boss, you don’t have to ask for anybody’s permission, and you have more chances of being available to your family and friends whenever the opportunity occurs.
The same thing is if your mum is preparing your favorite breakfast. You can find an hour to pay her a visit and spend some time with her. Everything is allowed when you are your own boss because you know that you can finish work later in the day.
But what happens with your mind? My husband complains that I am absent too often. If we watch TV shows, my thoughts fly away very often and I start thinking about a new project, or about an employee who doesn’t work as I have expected or I question myself if I have forwarded the client’s inquiry to my employee, etc. Sometimes I can’t stop thinking about problems and solutions, and after my mind comes back to my body, I have no idea what happened with Thomas Shelby. Does he find out that Grace is an undercover agent for the Birmingham Police or not? Then I ask my husband politely to rewind the show a few scenes back and he is not happy to see that, once again, I am working in my mind.
4. Contradiction: Entrepreneur’s body has more rest, but their mind is never peaceful.
When you are an entrepreneur, your work might not be physically demanding. You don’t have to go to the office if you don’t want to, you don’t have to stare at your laptop 8 hours a day, or drive a car, or sell something, or write boring reports, etc. Most of your time is spent thinking. You have to decide what is the best way to implement a new outsourcing project, you have to find the best position for the new employee, you have to select the right candidate for the vacancy, you have to decide what price you will offer to a new client, etc… You have to think, think, and think. Sometimes you will be lying on the beach, drinking your favorite cocktail and looking to the marvelous blue surface, but actually, that is just your body that is relaxing. Your mind will be cluttered with a bunch of information. Your thoughts will be running so fast, that is not even possible to catch all of them. And that is usually the way entrepreneurs live. They often relax physically, but their minds never sleep.
The goal of this article is not to describe an entrepreneur’s life as a hard one. It is to show that being an entrepreneur is not an occupation. It is a lifestyle.