Yes, our schedules stink. If we’re any good at all, we put in long hours, sometimes 50, 60 or more a week. We live with non-stop worry about money and pull our hair out over the endless and creative ways employees find to drive us nuts.
This can be the life of the SBO (small-business owner). In fact, it is almost mandatory during the first five or ten years in business. The good news? Eventually, gradually, stubbornly, you can begin to own your life and – this is the best part of all – you can create your own lifestyle.
Maybe it’s something as little as buying that Hummer everybody hates or that ragtop Mercedes everybody envies. I know, how shallow, but it does feel so good! Or maybe you love the idea of working side by side with your spouse, or bringing your children into the business. Or maybe it’s something as simple as the freedom to sneak away from the job site at 2:30 to watch your kid score the winning goal? Or how about working double time for two weeks straight so you can hop a flight to scuba dive off Belize for a week?
That’s all lifestyle, something our cubicle-dwelling, wage-slave neighbors can only dream about during their two-weeks off a year. It’s one of our perks.
As a writer/consultant with no wife and children grown, I get to travel the country to meet with clients. When I hit New York, for example, I do a day or so of business, followed by a first-run Broadway play and great food in world-class restaurants, much of it tax deductible.
Now how about the big lifestyle jump? I’m a one-man shop, a writer and marketing consultant. So, thanks in great part to the emergence of the internet, I took off for the Caribbean for about two years, where I lived on the beach, wrote for a handful of travel magazines, even ran a guest house for a summer, and still to managed to keep my back-in-the-States business operating.
I’m just one of tens of thousands of us who think outside the box. As small-business owners, we have the incredible opportunity to custom design our lifestyles. That’s because, in spite of the potential pain and suffering of working for ourselves, we have at least a modicum of control over our time and our schedules.
Still, it’s about more than just time and schedules. It’s about attitude, about a determination to capitalize on the benefits of the life we’ve chosen. That does not happen by accident. So, dare to dream!
One fellow who in my opinion is one of the best examples of “living the lifestyle” is Martin Biebel. Marty is an easy-going 50-year-old who spends his summers running his shop, Touch of the World, in Door County’s Fish Creek. He also likes extreme sports, including competitive skateboarding and jumping out of airplanes.
After Christmas, he and his Thai wife and handful of adopted children winter in Southeast Asia. He rents a large shipping container and scours villages across Thailand, India and Nepal. “I buy wood carvings, jewelry, pottery and other exotic items directly from the artisans and ship them back to my store,” he told me.
We swapped stories and laughed about big ambitions and business failures. “Successful people kept telling me bigger was better,” he told me. “So at one point I had six stores. I about went nuts.” Like many of us SBOs, it was the lifestyle that meant more to him than some brightly polished mahogany desk in a power office.
How about you? How does your business buy you the time or just give you the opportunity to live the lifestyle you want? Let me know. Tell me about your lifestyle.
Work hard. Make money. Have fun. — JR Ingrisano, SBO
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