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If you rely on the media to determine what life is like in “the real world”, chances are you’ll have a pretty jacked up perspective on society. That’s not to suggest that media portrayals of life aren’t accurate [some are] but I do believe it is highly sensationalized. This is because the public is fascinated by giant falls from grace, huge disasters and salacious scandals. On the other end of the spectrum we love us a good hero story, comebacks for the ages and the breaking of long-held records. Anything in between just isn’t worthy of mention.
Entrepreneurs are great fuel for this sort of media-environment and the stories that are typically covered are those of the mega billionaire who has made it big or the former billionaire who crashed and burned. The problem with this is it gives a distorted view of what the real lives of entrepreneurs are like. Surely, they aren’t all eccentric, ego-driven, risk-loving maniacs looking to break the rules with a me-against-the-world mindset. Surely some are just…REGULAR people. Personally, I’m more interested in learning from the small business owner, the head of a micro-enterprise or a simple family-business owner than the glamorous guys and gals who make the front page of Inc, Fast Company or any other fancy-pants national publication. So that’s what I did.
My friend Jennelle is a devoted daughter, wife, mother, self-proclaimed workout queen, book lover and self-employed business owner. I met her in the same manner I met Janet and was immediately drawn to her, her husband Rob and their son Logan. They were both entrepreneurs and looked like the family that comes in the picture frames you buy from Target. I knew judging people from their appearances was wrong but I was young…so I did it anyway.
As I’ve come to expect now, I was a tad bit off in my assumptions. Through my broke student tinted glasses, they were a couple and young family without a care in the world; living the good life. Little did I know, that they were really two entrepreneurs, grinding an uphill battle and according to Jennelle living a “feast or famine“ lifestyle.
When times were good, they were GREAT but when business was slow…it was ROUGH. Like millions of others, they took a big hit in the 2008 economic crisis which impacted their savings and investments. If that wasn’t bad enough, Jennelle, struggled to find clients post graduation (in 2008) and had hefty student loan payments due. They relied on Rob’s business to keep the family afloat though it produced inconsistent income. Because of this, they had to rely heavily on credit cards, tap into their retirement savings and sometimes rely on their parents to make ends meet.
Does this mean there are no valuable lessons to learn from them? Absolutely not!
In fact, the fruits of their labor over the last decade are about to pay off big time! By summer, they expect Rob’s company to be funded which will provide them a consistent income and when this happens, in her own words, their son “will probably never have to work“. How dope is that?
To me, their story is one of entrepreneurship, balancing risk and reward, making everyday trade offs, and incredible endurance through the tough times—all of which made them a stronger couple and family. During our talk, Jennelle and I discussed life in a dual-entrepreneur household, parenting, reflections on her childhood and the role money plays in her life today. Here are a few snippets from our talk.
How she tricked her son and curbed a bad habit-
Why many entrepreners aren’t successful and getting through the tough times-
Final thoughts on money, what it means to be “rich” and a quote from her Mama