So much of the advertising, writing and propaganda about entrepreneurship, especially in the world of internet marketing, contains exuberant exclamations like:
"Here is a picture of me cavorting with supermodels in the French Riviera, all while listening to pings from my Blackberry each time money pours into my bank account!"
"I was an oppressed file clerk, bossed around by tyrannical managers until I spent $399 on a 12-CD audio program. Now in just two short weeks I have two assistants just to paint my toes, and my former manager just called my cellphone, begging to come to work for me."
"Here is my large car, parked in front of my large house with my large boat in the garage. None are as large as my bank account, which just keeps filling up, despite the fact that I only work 3 hours a week."
Am I the only one who guffaws at this picture of entrepreneurship?
If I were to inject reality into this image based on the last 10 years I have worked for myself, my commercial would be more like this:
"Here is a picture of me at 5am at the Southwest terminal at the airport, pregnant and nauseated, throwing up on the curb as I prepare to fly to my client’s office."
"Here I am at 3am at Kinkos, on my 7th sugar/caffeine roller coaster of the evening, near weeping as I try to get my Word document to print out as it did on my home computer so that I can finish my materials for tomorrow morning’s meeting"
"Here I am trying to close a big deal with a senior executive, scared as hell but trying not to show it, and hoping that the spinach salad I had for lunch is not stuck to my teeth."
You see, although I think it is a tremendous idea to build a business with "passive revenue streams" and live a life of fun and leisure, I don’t believe that it is possible to become an overnight success with a few magic techniques or systems.
Finding work you are passionate about takes time. Building up the knowledge, skill and experience to be truly great at this work is a labor of intense love and sweat. Creating a business out of this work and building infrastructure, community, customers, fans, advocates and mentors requires patience.
My perspective on this is greatly influenced by many years training martial arts. To spar at an advanced level, you must prepare your body, mind and spirit through rigorous, sometimes tedious and often painful training. You do tens of thousands of sit-ups and push-ups. Your feet get battered and blistered and callused. You get pushed around by countless advanced students who whiz by you and make you feel awkward and clumsy. But after awhile, you begin to appreciate that the true joy is in the training. Feeling your breath tear in your chest as you go farther physically than you ever thought possible is an affirmation of being alive. By the time a decade goes by, you realize that the more you know the more there is to know. It never ends, but it keeps getting better.
Growing a business is similar. Making thousands of dollars a day is an exciting milestone, and it is an amazing feeling to watch money accumulate in your account. But the real goal is to create a life of meaning and purpose. Laying on a beach drinking margaritas all day is a standard of achievement created by people who feel stuck in jobs. Most interesting people who can afford to do this all day don’t … they fill their lives with interesting, important and meaningful activities. (Can anyone see Bill Gates parked on a beach after he leaves Microsoft?)
I am unabashedly, totally and passionately committed to entrepreneurship. I can’t think of a higher level of joy than getting an email from a totally satisfied client who describes how our work together was life-altering, or sitting back and marveling how one creative thought from a late-night brainstorm can reach over 10,000 people in one week.
I won’t turn down millions of dollars if they choose to come my way – I will have so much fun giving lots away and investing in other endeavors (plus, there is the sustainable home to be built in Sedona!). But the real joy is knowing that I can create the exact structure for my business that fits my stage of life. When I was a single gal I delighted when clients paid for fancy rooms at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City or two-day stopovers in Paris. Now, I can inhale the sweet smell of my baby son’s hair as I traipse down the stairs for lunch after spending the morning writing about things that I care about. I have these options because I worked very hard for them.
Please don’t be fooled by the easy-living fantasy of entrepreneurship. The hard-working reality is so much better.
Umm, Daniel, could you please point out the place in this article where I referenced the Network Marketing Industry?
“the world of online marketing” is gigantic. Many, many different industries use the deathly long sales letters to sell riches. It is the place, besides late night infomercials, where I see most of the “get rich quick” hype.
There are many ethical people who utilize online marketing to further good business goals. I hope I am one of them.
I am referring to the unsubstantiated hype which takes honest people’s money with flimsy chances at actually making a healthy profit.
Sorry if you took my article as an offense — I prefer to think of it as a reality check for anyone pursuing wealth.
“Being an entrepreneur is a way of life, not a status or anything MLM’s try to sell” Nor is it anything anything any online marketer, franchise promoter, “Go Freelance!” writing evangelist or any other industry likely to give you the straight dope on.
Why single out just the Network Marketing industry for opprobrium when every other industry in the world has just as many people telling you that success is just around the corner. Don’t believe me? Go to NWJOBS.com (it will redirect to the online jobs board for the Seattle P-I), search Sales jobs, and see how many tease with $100K+ incomes. Not a single one is MLM.
But MLM is most often portrayed as the bad guy. As they say in France, “Plus ca change …”
The $10M yacht boasts remind me of a question I always had about channeling! Why would a person who has shuffled off the mortal coil and found a place of peace and transcendence concern him/her/itself with the petty problems of people still living? Why would anyone on a $10M take their eyes off the gorgeous sea vistas to write not poetry, not a great novel, not a love letter, but ad copy?
Very, very true. Thanks for that inspiring declaration video, found it posted on “headrush”. As soon as you accept the state of being unemployed, earning more or less like seasons going by – its much more relaxing 😉
You’re so right. On the surface it all looks so easy. As you know, I’m in the process of launching a major product, my biggest yet, and when it hits I know I’ll get tons of emails from people asking me how I did it because to them it looks like I did it overnight. They don’t know that it’s taken me over a year and a huge cut in income to get to this point. And sure, the dollars rolling into my bank account will be most welcome, but I already get my real reward everyday: being at home with my 2-year-old son!
Meaning and Purpose. That is what I am seeking. Most office drones have no meaning and purpose. My business gives me a place to express myself.
Great Post Pam!
This is precisely why people who choose to be entrepreneurs “for the money” never actually succeed.
Being an entrepreneur is a way of life, not a status or anything MLM’s try to sell… It’s not an easy life, but it sure is fulfilling for some.
I got a kick out of this one! I coach successful, self-employed women to rediscover the fun in their lives. Not one of them has ever told me they wanted to sit on the beach EVERY DAY – they just want to fulfill their purpose and still have time to go to the beach!
Which one are U?
Nice post … good for those in the middle of the adventure wondering why the hell they did it!
Ps. Love your bloggy .. have been lurking by almost daily. ; )
“Laying on a beach drinking margaritas all day is a standard of achievement created by people who feel stuck in jobs. ”
Touche. I was sitting here at work thinking a margarita sounded good…
I need some articles on how to get (and stay) motivated to do stuff in the “offtime” while working at a day-job.
Excellent blog entry. Prosperity is a by product of good living, in my opinion. But if money’s the only goal, why bother? I’d rather do charity work.
I fully agree that there is nothing called over-night success, whatever tools you have and whatever books you read and whoever you associate with.
“But the real goal is to create a life of meaning and purpose.” – The meaning and purpose of life is very subjective. Bill Gates found a new purpose to live and added a new meaning to his life. If some one love to just hang-in there all day in the beaches of the world, so be it.
But to get there and have the flexibility to do what you love the most, you must have passive streams of income or huge amounts of money in the bank to support. Many people build businesses, work for somebody… just to get there.
I bet no body is dreaming of running a business or working till the last breath. At some point everyone retire, even from the business and live a life of their choice. So business or working is not an end but a means to an end.
Steve Jobs mentioned in a speech, that if what you are doing today is what you do when you know that you are dying today, then you are definitely living your life. Be it hanging in a beach, helping somebody, spending time with family or whatever you love the most.
Great Post. With the Internet Business Passive-income thing. I find it to be somewhat true. Once the stream is built you make a ton of $$$ for almost not work. *But* here’s the irony:
The exact people who have the drive to build the income stream in the first place are NEVER happy just sitting around. They always want to keep building stuff..
I always get a chuckle reading marketing copy like that.
“My bank called me to tell me to take my money elsewhere…because I was bursting their bank vault with my cash!”
Nice to hear a well thought out take on that.