VOL. 132 | NO. 141 | Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Honor Your Muse, Part 2
By Michael Graber
Editor’s note: This is the second in a three-part series. Full of fear my friend stares into the unknown, wondering whether or not to launch her own business. Only dark silence answers her unvoiced pleas. Like so many professionals in a monolithic system, she yearns for meaning and purpose in her daily work, which is lacking for her in health care social work.
She told me, “I want to know about how you knew what you wanted and trusted it enough to go after it, and how it made you feel – about your identity, your purpose and your sense of pleasure.”
I will answer, but reader be warned. Entrepreneurship is not for those with a weak disposition. Before I share about the positive side of starting your own venture, I want to qualify the stratospheric highs by surveying some of the unfathomable and humbling lows.
While there is meaning and purpose, you will be tested beyond your known limits. You will be turned inside out. You’ll learn so much, but the cost is high.
This is the price of the ticket, but there is an actual price, too.
There will most likely be periods where you cannot afford to pay yourself. Tax time is much more taxing than being a salaried employee; you may vomit when you receive the first few IRS notices. I did. The stress can overwhelm even the toughest types.
There are days when you will doubt the path you’ve chosen. Expect many sleepless nights and a few dark-night-of-the-soul phases.
You need to be obsessed to juggle all of the details as business starts to grow, and that obsession will interfere with your social life, relaxation and take a toll on relationships.
Only one thing is worse. When you have to lay off a trusted employee or lose a friendship over a firing, you hurt with a pain known only to a lonely few.
When you start a company, your every concern becomes the care and feeding of that venture. The only fitting analogy is having a child. You have to nurture, apply discipline you didn’t know you had, and your one, overriding concern is the viability of that life. You are more vigilant, more aware and more anxious than expected. Every moment becomes a test or a celebration.
Ask yourself if you have the stamina to ramp up a venture, which will require you to do business by day and work by night for months, maybe years.
Some of the above snippets give a taste of the arduous challenges anyone starting a business or nonprofit faces. It’s an ever-shifting obstacle course. You’ll learn more about yourself by being in this forge than possible any other forum.
If you are ready to face such rigors, then do it, hang up a single with your name. There is a payoff, but it’s not quite what you’d expect.
Michael Graber, managing partner of the Southern Growth Studio, can be reached at southerngrowthstudio.com.