Trick or Treat for You?

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Is it true? Is it October already? Holy Cow!

I don’t know what you think but to me, Summer seemed to fly by…lasting just weeks. Crazy!

And here we are again, noticing its just a little darker when we wake in the morning and the trees are running through a collage of bronzes and golds before closing down until next Spring.

It’s tempting when you see the the year getting ready to wrap up to think about hunkering down, wrapping up warm in front of a fireplace and preparing for a cold weather snap. That is exactly what entrepreneur’s DON’T Do.

When everyone else is digging in and getting ready to hibernate, the entrepreneur is preparing for spring – hell, the entrepreneur is selling the wood for the fireplaces, the blankets to the folk’s shivering in the cold, stamping their feet and the entrepreneur are selling candy to the folks getting ready to give the kids who will soon be knocking on your door.

And what about those kid’s who dress up, knock on your door with their hands out and expect to get their annual candy bonus.

That reminds me of my old corporate job – maybe that’s does you too?

As you come to the end of the year, if you are still working for someone else then maybe part of your compensation is through a bonus too.

And if we’re honest, if you do get paid a bonus, there’s a time every quarter or half year or every year where we stand, hopping from foot to foot, with our hands out, hoping the ‘grown up’ will put that candy in your sticky palm.

I had one of those ‘corporate’ jobs for a few years while I learnt what it took to scale a real business – there’s a big difference between being a “startup entrepreneur” and an entrepreneur who can grow a company from one employee to a hundred. While learning those lessons I WAS that little kid who, every six months, waited with my hands out hoping the bonus would bridge a few gaps and let us book that two week’s holiday we’d been planning on. Now, when I think back, one of the things which make me want to bite through steel is that to GET that bonus, I needed to spend two, maybe three weeks, putting the ‘case’ together that validated the fact that I should even get a bonus.

Now compare that to the day after we locked in investor funding for our new company – the only thing that matter on that day and the next week and for months after was creating a product that delivered value to customer so much so that they were prepared to take out their wallets and give our new company their hard earned money. When does a company get to the point where each person is such a cog that they need to spend 20% or 30% or (God forbid…) even more of their time telling their own company why they should a) have a job and b) why they justify a bonus?

After getting funding for my first company there was literally no time for anything except creating great products that customers WANTED TO PAY FOR and making sure that they PAID. Everyone on our small team knew that money was the oxygen our company needed to survive – no one wasted time tell each other why we deserved our pay check. I can honestly say that 100% of my time was focused on real stuff that made a real impact on building the company – it was awesome. No politics, no wasted time, and what needed to get done was as obvious as the edge of razor blade…when there were two choices of things to spend time on the question was simple… “Which activity will make customer happiest so they’ll pay us most quickly”.

Can you imagine it?

If you are still an employee who still stands with their hands out like a kid one or perhaps two days a year – hoping to get a treat instead of a trick from your grown ups…I’d like you to imagine this.

You wake up in the morning and as you lay in bed thinking about your day, you remember that you are spending the WHOLE day creating real value in your own company. You smile knowing that your ability to pay for that vacation you want is entirely in your own hands – your ability to get a pay rise is not dependent on a faceless number cruncher but is entirely in your hands. Want a promotion? Want more money? Then RUN a promotion and get customers to give you more money.

This is not a dream but it’s not for everyone – some people like to be part of a big organization and think it’s safe and predictable and when they hold their hand out once or twice a year, they’ll be able to get their predictable annual bonus/candy.

And I’m not trying to disturb their sense of safety and reassurance but I have no idea why people think they’re safe if their part of a big company – How safe were the 20,000 people who worked for Enron? Or Anderson Consulting or those working in the Automobile industry? Or the Steel Industry or – and maybe you don’t work in one of those challenged industries but the fact is, if you don’t OWN the company then your future, livelihood, pay rises bonuses, promotions, vacations, school fees, kids braces, gym fees are all decided by SOMEONE else. When the company changes direction, misses it’s earnings, get’s knocked back by competitors, when your face doesn’t fit with a new boss, when you get a little older and little more expensive – things can change for you and fast.

Now the fact is some people are designed to be a part of a 1000 or 10,000 or a 100,000 person company and thats cool but please – please don’t be an employee in those companies because you think it’s SAFE. The only true safety is when you are the owner of your own company and you focus on creating real value for your customers and those customers want to buy from you repeatedly. Your boss is your customer – and the relationship is clear and uncomplicated and without politics.

Now here’s what really makes me laugh (with a slight shake of the head and a shrug…)some people are DESIGNED to be successful entrepreneurs – they know it deep down. They know they’re never going to be truly happy until they’re starting, launching and growing their own company, maybe they even have that winning idea waiting to go, but they don’t go and they put it off. They get that corporate job and tell themselves they can’t risk being their own boss. Now tell me that safe company they’re a part of has never reduced its workforce, that there wasn’t a day when they needed to list the employees on a page and draw a line through 15% or 20% or 30% of the employees, call those in below the line and tell them today was their last day. Most companies – in one form or another – have gone through that exercise. And for those above the line they breath a sigh of relief that it wasn’t them and, like most painful experiences, they bury it in their subconscious like a gazelle happy that today they weren’t the ones eaten by the lions.

Some people are OK living like that, and that’s cool, but please don’t tell yourself the biggest lie of all – that you’re safe in your job. The only partial safety you can get is when you have your own company and YOU call the shots.

So does that mean everyone in a job should quit tomorrow? Hell no. There are leaders and there are people that are happier to be led. There are people giving out the candy at Halloween and there are people who will stay, hoping from foot to foot with their hands out.

And starting a company doesn’t need to be black and white – you can move your winning idea forward WHILE you work a job. It might mean (Horror of horrors) NO television for a few months but you can get a company ready to launch, you can prove the concept while working a day job – in other words you don’t have to RISK everything to see if you new business idea is a winner. And when you’ve proven it’s a winner, get a few angel investors to cover the launch and few salaries and you could be doing what you were designed and created to do. Your own company!

I really mean that – some people are designed to start, launch and grow companies – some indicators are people who are curious, who like new ideas, maybe even people who are restless – not comfortable stuck doing the same thing over and over again – someone who finds it tough to keep their heads down. Good signs that maybe your true calling is moving your own idea, product, company forward.

In two weeks you’re going to get small kids knocking on your door asking for a treat, please remember this post.

I’m going to add a post with a few pointers on how to get some proof for your idea – so you can check out if there’s something ‘there’ worth pursuing. Sign up to get a note when that post is live.

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