I’m going to start out with a shameless plug (this is my page you know) for Form and Function Training, the formal name for my strength and conditioning business. If you are a team, club, school, or individual who can benefit from my coaching, get in touch.
Firstly let me state that this post is not one of those “ain’t life great” ones that’s written by the sort of person who spends more time whitening their teeth than they really should. I’m sure you know that types. “See me? I live the life you want to. Buy the shit I’m selling”. I’m not selling anything today, something was said to me over the weekend about my entrepreneurial lifestyle, and I thought it would make an interesting post. Let’s see if it does.
To many people I’m living the dream. I run a full time gym, I get to train as often as I want to, I’m on TV sometimes, I get to go and see fight shows for free that most other people pay into, and I seem to have a lot of free time. At the weekend I was MCing a fight show. It was something a little different for me and I got to wear a Tuxedo which was fun too. Walking around afterwards an old friend stopped and we got to talking. This guy has a good education and a good job. If you were to ask me if I’d be happy to have my son be in his situation in 20 years time I would say that yes, I probably would. Not to suggest that having a degree and a job is the key to lifelong happiness, but within the limited scope of this discussion- education and employment- I think that would be fine by me. In any case, this friend of mine shook his head and told me how much he envied my lifestyle, how cool it must be to be your own boss, to do all of the things I do, to be free and easy to do what you want and so on. We parted with the notion to catch up soon, and I found myself thinking…
Man, I would love to have a regular paycheque like yours.
It’s a classic case of the grass always being greener on the other side of the fence. I chase money, invoices, and training fees, try to nail new teams and strength and conditioning clients. I pay the rent, I pay my insurance, the gym insurance, I organise cleaning rotas and maintenance schedules. I plan new equipment purchases and calculate depreciation on older stuff. At the end of some months, I don’t know how much I’ll have earned. In quiet months like August and December I have learned that the key to not having a panic attack is to just keep repeating “it’s only a month, it’s only a month… it’s only a month”.
And I’m not alone. In fact almost every other entrepreneur coach I know who is honest with me says the same thing. There is extraordinary pressure involved in running your own business, particularly in such a fickle industry as health and fitness. The fads keep changing, and if you have a modicum of integrity, you don’t change with them. Instead you stick to your guns and don’t fall for running TRX classes or the like. This is why you can never be comfortable. This is why buying new weight plates for the gym takes precedence over buying new coffee cups for your house. You’re not in this just to be your own boss- you’re in this to do something you believe in.
And nobody helps. I don’t mean this as a whine, but there is nobody out there helping you when you’re out on your own. You have your family, you have your friends, and perhaps some of them helped you out financially when you started or do so now that you’re running. And I’m sure you have someone there to vent to when things aren’t going well or when you hit an obstacle. But where are the banks when you need credit? Where is the government when you need support- financial, structural or otherwise? Where are the city councils when you need something? They don’t have an arm round your back asking “what do you need?” that’s for sure. In fact, they have their hand out, wondering where the loan payment is, where your water rates are, where your tax is. And should things go wrong for you as a self employed person in Ireland in 2012, and you find yourself without work, then there will be no welfare payment for you, no financial help, no support. You chose to be out on your own. Should your enterprise fail then you will know the true meaning of that term. You don’t know truly disconnected the government is from your reality until you’ve heard the words “have you thought about a Fás course?”
If you’re reading this and nodding along, then I know you haven’t taken a sick day unless you quite literally couldn’t get out of bed, and I know you spend every waking hour wondering if this or that is the best thing for your business. I’ve taken to leaving my phone in the kitchen drawer when I sit down to dinner or to watch a movie. I’ve managed to keep the office door closed between the hours of 3pm and 7pm, but it hasn’t been easy. This is “the dream” such as it is, but I still wouldn’t change it for a paycheque.
I thought about summing this one up with a paragraph on the positives of my career, but I don’t need one. Instead, go browsing through this blog. That’s what I do all day. I balance the joy of that with the pressure of the above, and the joy of work wins every time.
But there are some days…