Update 11 September, 2015: When originally written in 2005, this blog post accurately represented where I was. It’s not where I am today, nor would I endorse many of the choices I made years ago which led to the unfortunate circumstances I, my wife, and my team members went through. I’m not proud of the mistakes I have made, and I only share them so others can avoid them. Some of the experiences are humorous, but many are not. These days I’m happy to say I have reasonable work schedule that allows me to spend plenty of time with my family, be healthy, and run a better business. Now, here’s the original post:
A lot of people think they’ve got entrepreneurial experience. After all, they started or ran a business, and isn’t that what an entrepreneur is? Maybe, if that’s your definition of an entrepreneur. Here my definition.
You might be an entrepreneur if…
1. You’ve maxed out more than $50K in credit cards to fund your business.
2. You’ve taken any money you had in savings and put it into your business.
3. You’ve worked overtime, over a weekend, or two consecutive days not so that you could pay your own mortgage, but so that you could get money to pay one of your employees’ mortgages.
4. You’ve borrowed money from friends and family.
5. You’ve had to explain to your employees why there’s no money for their paychecks.
6. You’ve had an employee get angry at you for giving someone else their paycheck before them.
7. You’ve gone for two years without receiving any pay in any form from the company you own, despite the fact that you really, really need to get paid.
8. You’ve risked permanent bladder damage because you don’t take time to go to the bathroom.
9. You’ve “borrowed” money from the IRS by not paying your payroll taxes so that you have enough money to pay your employees.
10. In the six years you’ve been married you’ve never taken your wife on any sort of a vacation.
11. Your only source of income over the past two years has come from your wife, and a chunk of the money she brings in you take and put into your business in order to pay your employees.
12. You’ve had to explain to your employees the concept of “no money.”
13. You’ve averaged 80 hours per week of work for the past several years.
14. You’re the lowest paid employee in your company.
15. You’ve had dreams about your employees’ wives yelling at you.
16. You have to begin interviews of potential employees by saying “I need you to understand that sometimes I won’t be able to pay you.”
17. You’ve had to explain to your employees that in order to save up money so that you will never be late on payroll again, you have to have at least one month where you make more money than you have to spend to stay in business.
18. You work for two days straight without sleeping and then feel guilty for buying a hamburger off the dollar menu at McDonald’s because you can’t afford it.
19. You start hoping that you become a victim of identify theft because maybe everyone who is after you to pay your bills will go after the thief.
20. You’ve ruined personal relationships over business matters, despite the fact you thought this would never happen to you and you’ve always tried to not do this.
21. You spend 90% of your time feeling like a failure but you keep working anyway.
22. You keep working on your business despite everyone around you telling you it’s a failure and you should just get a real job.
23. You can’t afford to shut your business down because if you do you won’t be able to keep up with the debt payments unless you were miraculously able to land a job making $250K per year.
24. You pay all your bills on the last possible day you can, and you know all those dates by heart for each bill.
25. Without trying you’ve succeeded in convincing all your employees to never try to start their own businesses.
26. You hire an accountant and after looking at your books he comes in with a frantically worried look on his face and says “You’re going out of business!” and you calmly smile and say “No, that’s how we’ve been running the business for the past few years. It’s nothing new.”
27. When someone asks you what you’re doing this weekend you say “Working, of course. Just like any other day.”
28. When you see a grown man riding his bike for exercise at 7am while you’re on your way to work you think “How in the world does anyone have time for that?”
29. 6pm feels like 11 am.
30. You get rid of your TV and don’t miss it one bit.
31. Your wife attends family functions by herself, even when it’s your family.
32. You have a plaque on your office wall of a life preserver with the words “sense of humor” written on it.
33. You know which restaurants in the area are open until midnight, and which are open after midnight.
34. You’ve taken out loans on both of your cars.
35. You’ve moved out of the house you were buying and are renting it because you can’t afford to live in it.
36. You live in an apartment that is smaller than the apartment you lived in when you were a student and had just gotten married.
37. Your wife’s car breaks down and since it costs more to fix it than the car is worth, you end up making do with one car because you can’t get a loan on a new car because you already have loans on both cars including the one that is now junk, and you can’t even take that car to the junkyard because that would require paying off the loan, which of course you can’t afford to do, so the car is sitting in someone’s driveway.
38. You wear the same dress shoes to work every day for five years, despite the fact they are scraped up and look horrible.
39. Your wife feels guilty about buying a $9 pair of shoes at Payless even though her shoes are cracked on the bottom and you can see her foot through the sole.
40. Your business has brought in millions of dollars of revenue but you have nothing to show for it personally.
41. You feel euphoric just thinking about what it would be like to not owe anyone any money.
42. You’ve had the urge to fill the room with uppercuts when someone says they’re having trouble living on $120,000 per year.
43. You’re not sure why any of your employees continues working for you.
44. You’ve invited someone to lunch and then asked him to pay for it.
45. Every time your credit card works you feel an overwhelming sense of relief.
46. You’ve had to ask your employees for rides to work because you have no money to buy gas for your car.
47. You’ve told someone not to start the same type of business as you, not because you’re afraid of the competition, but because you can’t bear the thought of someone going through what you’ve been through.
48. All your friends tell you they wish they had your job, and you tell them you wish you had their’s.
49. You’ve worked multiple Christmas days.
50. During the past year you’ve paid the federal government more in taxes than you’ve paid yourself in salary.
51. You’re able to get back all the personal taxes you’ve ever paid because you had such a bad year last year.
52. You’ve felt a sense of relief when an employee has quit because now you don’t have to lay him off.
53. You’re an expert on what does and doesn’t count as a business expense.
54. You have the desire to choke anyone who says “And you can just write it off as a business expense!”
55. When your wife gets pregnant rather than being thrilled all you can think about is “How in the world are we going to be able to afford this child?”
56. You’ve considered asking your life insurance agent whether the policy you just took out is still valid if you commit suicide.
57. One of the major things keeping you from killing yourself is the guilt you feel about handing all this mess over to someone else who isn’t nearly as well equipped to handle it as you are since you’ve already been going through it for several years.
58. Despite being Mormon, you’ve wondered if there’s any way to rationalize taking on a tobacco company as a client.
59. You’ve slept on the floor of your office more than once.
60. You’ve slept in your office chair, or possibly a lobby chair (they’re generally more comfortable) overnight.
61. You’ve seriously considered buying a cot for your office.
62. You’ve told politicians that you’ll vote for them if they campaign for a 36-hour day.
63. You wonder if everyone who owns a business and is financially stable is dishonest.
64. You cut your own hair.
65. You haven’t cleaned the inside of your car for over a year because you don’t have the time.
66. You wonder where the last five years went.
67. You’re amazed by how much you’ve learned in the last month, because you weren’t sure a month ago how you could learn anything else after what you’ve learned over the past five years.
68. You’ve gone to that furniture store on Saturdays where they give out free hot dogs in order to save money on meals.
69. You’ve tried to convince your wife to let you cut her hair.
70. You realize your wife must be a very special person because what other woman would put up with all this and still like you?
71. You’re jealous of a school teacher’s salary.
72. You look at a paperclip that costs a slight percentage of one cent and think “I bet the guy running the company that makes these is making a lot more money than I am.”
73. You see all the big houses around you and wonder “What in the world do all these people do?”
74. When a life coach tell everyone in the room “Think about what you would do if you had a million dollars in the bank–now go out and do that and don’t worry about the money,” you get the impression you’re the only person in history who has actually done this and if the life coach had actually done it he might stop telling other people to do it.
75. You’re able to write a list like this in a half hour right off the top of your head.
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