I’m a runner, and like most runners, I’ve always had a little part of me that wanted to do a marathon. Something about the challenge of something so big is very intriguing. I guess you could say it was one of those “bucket list” items for me. A few years ago, I finally decided that it was time. I had several friends who were competitive marathoners so I enlisted their help. They set out a training program for me that included not only the physical training, but also the nutritional and body maintenance program I would need to succeed. I set my eyes on the New York City Marathon (go big or go home right) and started to train. I trained for nearly nine months. It was one of the hardest things I ever did. The time sacrifice, the physical toll, and the mental toll – it was all very difficult, but in many ways, extremely rewarding. Unfortunately for me, the week before the marathon, Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, devastating parts of New York. The marathon was cancelled for the first time in its 40 year history.
What a disappointment. I certainly understood and supported the decision to cancel, but all that hard work went for nothing. At first I thought, that’s okay, I can set my sights on a new marathon. I’ve done the training, I know what it takes. I’ll just do it again. But then reality hit. While I had the will to go through all the training again, I really didn’t have the want. My desire and my passion to do a marathon just weren’t there. I was really doing it to prove to myself that I could.
Being an entrepreneur is a lot like training for and running a marathon. In all the books we read and seminars we attend, we constantly hear the same thing. To be successful, you must be willing to sacrifice, willing to work long hours for little pay, willing to take time away from your family. To me, being willing to do something and wanting to do something are very different. If at the root, you don’t have the passion or the want, not enough will in the world is enough to carry you through.
Tracey, Dani and I recently spoke to a group of women business owners and shared our story of growing a business from our kitchen to a national brand. During the Q&A, a woman asked the following question.
“After hearing all the work and sacrifices you made and continue to make growing your business, how do you deal with the stress? It seems that all you do is work. How do you find a good work life balance?”
It was an excellent question and my answer was simple. It’s not stressful and it doesn’t affect my work life balance, because I love doing it. I’m so passionate about our company and about what we do, that it doesn’t feel like work. I actually enjoy talking about it, thinking about it and living it.
My point is this. Don’t ask yourself if you’re willing to make the sacrifices needed to be an entrepreneur. Ask yourself if you will want to make those sacrifices. If not, inevitably the stress and strain will take its toll. Best case scenario is that your business will become mediocre. More likely however, your business will fail and your personal life won’t be far behind. Don’t get me wrong, there are days and weeks when I get stressed and tired. That happens in any job. But at the end of the day, I love what I do so much and am passionate about it, so I’m okay with it.
If you want to be an entrepreneur, it’s a question you have to ask yourself, and answer honestly. Do you really want everything that goes with being an entrepreneur, or do you simply have the will to go through it? If all you have is the will, you may want to reconsider.