Whether you’re an aspiring, budding, or current entrepreneur, there’s a reason you get out of bed every day. Maybe, for you, it’s money. Maybe you’re simply working to retire, to get out of your job as soon as possible. Or maybe it’s something more.
Maybe the reason to get moving every day is that you’re making a difference. You have a calling or mission, where you’re transforming people’s lives.
As someone with a successful business of my own, and at my age (not quite sixty), I’m sometimes asked, “When are you going to give it all up?” Truth is, I could give it up—today—if I wanted to. I’m fortunate enough to be able to retire this moment, if I chose to do so. But I’m still here, running my firm, because my job is my calling, my passion.
When you’re getting up every day because you’re transforming people’s lives, you’re making a difference in the lives of others, the last thing on your mind is retirement. Leaving it all behind is something that’s down the road, toward the end of the journey. If you’re a business owner, chances are you won’t think about your own retirement goals until you’ve grown the company to the point where you can offer a benefit to your employees.
But the end is exactly what you should be thinking about today—and every day. Building a strong business is the best investment in your future, and the future of those that you love.
Right now, you’re accomplished, eager, and ambitious. Like many entrepreneurs, you may be working as many hours as possible and pouring all your energy, ambition, sweat, and tears into growing the business. You’re an entrepreneur because you crave the autonomy to affect the outcome of your job, business, project—life. Yet I see too many entrepreneurs placing all of their efforts behind pulling long hours, all the while knowing that hard work shouldn’t equate to how much time they’re spending on or in their business.
So think about it: Are you a business owner or a job owner? If you weren’t there day to day, would your business function without you, or are you trading time for money—just like the employees who work for you? What would your day look like if you were to shift from “having a day job” to being an entrepreneur in the truest sense?
True entrepreneurialism is about freeing yourself from the constraints of time. Instead of “clocking in” at your own company to make sure the money keeps coming in, a true entrepreneur is able to spend more time growing the business, accumulating wealth, and leaving a legacy for future generations. It really should be about investing in planning; you may have a small, eager and driven team, but if they focus on the same thing year after year, the business can’t grow exponentially.
It might be surprising think of an entrepreneur as so singular-focused as I’ve described, someone so driven that they can’t escape the day-to-day long enough to envision the road ahead. After all, entrepreneurs are typically outside-the-box thinkers—unconventional thinking comes naturally to them. That’s what really defines them and, in many cases, leads to their success. That pure drive, pure confidence, is what makes them great at what they do—building successful companies that blaze new trails, set the world on fire, and make life easier for others.
Speaking from experience, confidence is part of the entrepreneur’s DNA. Believing in and banking on yourself is job number one. With that definition in mind, then I guess I’ve always been an entrepreneur. I felt pretty good about my initial thousand-dollar-a-month job straight out of college. Then I read an article that said the average business school graduate was making $28,000—a good salary back then. My response? I went right out and leased a BMW, which at the time was round $300 per month. That was my entrepreneurial confidence in action. In my mind, that BMW projected the image of a successful entrepreneur, someone making $28,000 a year. I figured that I could make at least double what an average person made, so I set a goal of bringing in $56,000 per year. With my BMW and a few new suits, I began my career as a financial advisor. My entrepreneurial goal: to make other people’s lives better.
That was thirty-five years ago. Since then, I’ve coached entrepreneurs to reach higher, imagine bigger, and achieve dreams they never thought possible. I’ve taught them to do that by getting paid for what they know, not what they do. I’ve helped them understand what an entrepreneurial mindset is all about. It’s about uncommon or extraordinary thinking, asking the next big question. The true entrepreneur is the one who asks the most powerful questions and thinks the deepest. That’s what wins. And winning is about creating a business that eliminates or reduces costs and competition.
In order to do that, in order to be a winning entrepreneur, you must get your organization to grow to where it’s no longer centered around only your ability to produce a function or do the work. Let’s face it, most entrepreneurs never really get their companies past the self-employed stage because they can never seem to get out of start-up mode. That’s typical in a company that still focuses on the talent of the entrepreneur. No matter the size—ten, twenty, two hundred employees—as long as the entrepreneur remains front and center, the company will never really grow.
It takes a different skill sets in order for an entrepreneur to grow wealth for themselves and for future generations. You must know how to hire and fire. You must know how to lead groups. These aren’t skills you learn in school. And the roles of entrepreneur and business owner are different—they require different sets of skills. Instead of focusing on just putting in hours, it’s about creating an organization that allows you to go from self-employed to business owner and even becoming an investor in the business. Once you shift your mindset to what the road ahead looks like, you can create an organization that allows you to go from being self-employed to being a business owner, to actually being an investor in the business.
As entrepreneurs ourselves, my team and I understand first-hand the risks, opportunities, and challenges you face. And we know how to help identify and develop the skills you need to thrive, compete, and overcome today’s challenges. We work with entrepreneurs hailing from all industries, across the spectrum, to help them see how to overcome their single-minded focus on owning a business. We help them see that true entrepreneurship is about having more time, more money, less dependency, and a better quality of life for themselves and their family—now and for the future.