Everybody knows that having a Why — a strong reason for doing something — can greatly improve your chances of success. A person’s Why is often their main source of motivation; something beyond money and fame. It’s what you look at when you face rejection time and time again. It helps you when you hit rock bottom in life and need something to help you climb back up.
The following are events that led to my Whys for being an entrepreneur. They might help you discover your Why, might not. Maybe they’ll help someone you know shake off the job mentality.
When I was a kid, my parents had vastly different work lives. My father owned a business, and my mother had jobs. Both styles had their share of pros and cons. In the end, their results were the same: not much to show for it.
My father started a restaurant in 1990, the year after I was born. He and my mother — and my brother, until he moved out — were the sole employees. I was home-schooled until 8 years old, so virtually every day until the business ended was Bring Your Child to Work Day.
Observing my father’s work life set the standard for what I’m aiming for in my own work life. He owned his time; if he/I wanted to play or talk, he was often available. He was his own boss, starting the business because he hated working for other people. To my knowledge, money wasn’t an issue in our family. He loved what he did; I could tell by how happy he was when he was on the grill or even doing something as mundane as setting the place up.
Who wouldn’t want a work life like that?
In 1997, my father died of an asthma attack. Just that quick, the business was shut down. No expansions, no one to take the reins, no residual income, everything was cremated along with him. Dad left enough money to provide Mom and I for a year and then some, but Mom had to work for someone else.
After months of unemployment, my mother worked at Starbucks throughout 1998. She landed a job with much better pay in 1999. By “better pay,” I mean she was earning enough to where she bought her first house and her dream car. The downside was that she was working from 1:00pm to 10:00pm, and sometimes overtime until 6:00am.
Most parents have a schedule just like this. This gives them little time for family, or even themselves. They can’t travel the world, go to wrestling matches, or see public speakers because they’re chained to their job. They miss out on their child’s achievements, such as learning to walk. They miss the sports games, school plays, birthdays, and so on.
That’s a lot of time you’re investing to help someone else have time and money for their kids!
When I was 16, my mother and I were discussing what I wanted to major in, in college. She asked what I wanted to do for a career, to which I replied that I wanted to get into game programming. She thought that was a stupid plan because apparently, there’s no money in video games. Then she told me to major in accounting because that’s where the “real” money is. In the months after this conversation, she would even tell her friends that I’m going to be an accountant.
Even then, I knew there was something wrong with that picture. I didn’t give a damn about accounting, so why should I work in that area for the rest of my life? I loved video games, so why shouldn’t I work in a field that I’m passionate about?
That’s what happens when the 9-to-5 model of work is all you’re exposed to. Most people feel that they have to choose between having a job that they hate, but brings in good money, or a job where they’re passionately poor. God forbid someone “too young to understand the real world” talks about big dreams. Then the adults who allowed real life to beat them up step forth and attempt to destroy those dreams. My kids will be exposed to better options.
In 2011, my mother was forced to retire due to an illness. Like my father, all those decades of working left her with little to show for it.
This is another lifestyle that most people can relate to; all it takes is the breadwinner losing their job, and the family money collapses. The retirement age is 65, yet most people who retire end up coming right back to work. Only that high-paying field they studied so hard for and worked in their youth won’t take them back. So they end up on minimum wage until they die of old age. I recently went to Home Depot, and I saw 3 employees who looked around that age, maybe older!
My biggest Why for being a business owner is to discontinue the tradition of broke/well-to-do families, and start a legacy of financial freedom.
Rather than choose between a terrible job with good money or a good job with little money, my kids will choose between working because they want to, or retiring with the legacy they created.
I will be able to go/do wherever and whatever I want without needing permission from a boss.
I’ll be investing as much time as I want with loved ones.
When I’m dead, my businesses and achievements will still be here, and residual income will be available to my family.
Make a nice day!