all the mistakes my employers were making and how much money they were losing doing things their way. For some reason, I would come home talking about how "I" would do it if "I" owned the business. My wife patiently listened to all of my complaints for about a year. One day I came home and started telling her how I would do things if it were my business.
"I've been listening to this stuff for more than a year," Karen said to my surprise. "If you think you can do it better, why don't you start your own business?"
For some reason, her words cut pretty deep. I sat wondering what to say and realized that I had been mouthing off for so long it had become a habit. I realized I had become a complainer. I had become a complaining pain in the neck who didn't have the wherewithal to start a business. My wife had laid down the challenge and now it was time to either "put up or shut up."
Go for itSeveral weeks later, after much thought, on a Saturday morning I answered the phone and explained to the caller that the limited edition shiny black Volvo I put up for sale had 20,000 miles. He asked for my address and said he would stop by to look at it. The phone rang again and this time the caller was asking about the house. I began describing the home and the terms of the lease. My wife came out of the bedroom and listened as I explained to the caller that I didn't want to sell the house, I just wanted to lease it. She wanted to know what was going on and why I had placed ads in the paper to sell the car and lease the house.
I explained that if we did these things we would have enough cash to start our business. I asked her what she thought about the idea and she said, "Go for it." I sold the car that same day and leased out our home within a week. This gave me
$12,000 in working capitol to start my business. I also had a piece of property that I could either sell or use as collateral. All I needed was the right job.
Why did I go into business for myself? I had talked myself into a corner and my wife took me seriously and laid down the challenge. I also knew I wanted to be in business for myself someday, however, my wife's challenge did motivate me. I firmly believe that because I was raised in a small business family, I naturally caught the bug to venture in the direction of owning my own business. I would say the two key reasons for wanting to be in business are:
1. A natural bent towards business, which I believe came from my parents.
2. The challenge that my wife
One's reasons for starting his own contracting business may be very different from someone elses. However, I think it's important to either think back to why the business was started or write down reasons why one should start a contracting business. Is it the independence? Is it to be the captain of the ship or the maker of one's own destiny? Maybe taking orders gets tiresome from someone who is felt to be incompetent? Maybe it's to make more money. Maybe it's out of entrepreneurial endeavors.
An entrepreneur is best described as a person who organizes, operates and assumes the risk for a business venture. Is a lot of time spent thinking of ways to make money and ways to spend, invest or donate that money?
I believe there are right and wrong reasons for starting a business, as well as right and wrong reasons for quitting business. I do think it's a good idea to look at reasons and share them with someone trustworthy. I also think it's important to have a reason, goal or purpose, for starting or quitting. If there is not a viable reason, there may be some self-deception for one reason or another. My father-in-law once told me not everyone is wired to lead or be in business for themselves. Some people are completely happy following a good leader. Finding an appreciative leader may be the solution to your question as to whether or not you should be in business for yourself.
Heart or headAs we age, our perspective and needs change. The one common problem I've dealt with is the difference between what my heart says and what my head says. It can be confusing and believe me, it's much harder to listen to the heart rather than the head. For example, the head might say, "I'm not stealing the screw gun or wheel barrow; I'm just going to borrow it. My boss won't miss them." But the heart screams, "Those are your employers' tools!"
As we age (at least in my case), I ask my heart a lot of questions and one of those is whether or not I'm still truly an entrepreneur. Remember, an entrepreneur is a person who organizes, operates and assumes the risk for a business venture. I like organizing, as well as running or operating a business. However, my heart tells me to stop taking such big risks. When I started in business, I really didn't consider the risks and I think the reason the business was started had more to do with what my head said rather than my heart.
At my age, I think it's more important for me to listen to what my heart thinks rather than my head. I use the word "heart" because it describes how a person really feels or believes rather than how a person is trained to think. Our thoughts are normally based on the sum of our good and bad life experiences. When we think only with our heads we make decisions based on our experiences and overall view of people and the world around us. I call it our worldview and our head's worldview can be a lot different than our heart's view.
As I learn to listen to my heart, I believe at this point in my life that I would rather organize and operate a business rather than take on huge risks. I know this story sounds like some sort of a romance novel but I'm convinced that each of us has to stop and take inventory of what is really true.
Think back to when the business was started. Are you in business today for the same reasons it was started? It's a simple question but it's important because as the industry changes, we must change and adapt. Asking your heart why you want to start your own business or why you want to stay in business is much more complicated, time consuming and a bit scary, because you may not like what you hear.
Sharing informationI've explained the difference between listening to the head and the heart. Now, it's time to ask the heart some hard questions. Why do you really want to start your own business? The mind may say, "To make money." We already know it's not all about money. We're interested in what your ‘heart' says. It's OK, contractors have hearts, feelings, family and friends. We're no different than anyone else.
Sharing your insights to these questions will help all of us become better employees, managers, owners and beach bums. As well, our bulletin board located at www.wconline.com buzzes with construction-related topics, as well as some controversial subjects. We look forward to hearing a range of comments, as well as sharing them with our readers.
In one short all-encompassing sentence write down the hearts key reason for starting or staying in business and send it to us.
We would appreciate hearing from those of you who will take the time to investigate what the heart and head say.
Send your comments to the Editor Nick Moretti via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Your comments can be sent anonymously or you may include your name and/or your company name.
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