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Entrepreneurship is not a pretty word. It’s not easy to spell, it’s long and kinda funny looking. For most people, just the thought of being a business owner and carrying all of the responsibility gives them the chills. But for the select few that consider themselves entrepreneurial [like us], it’s a word that ignites fireworks.
Seriously, whenever a really great idea pops into our minds, it’s a spine-tingling full body experience. Like, we don’t do hardcore drugs but we imagine a similar high is felt whenever people are on ecstasy, lean or whatever crazy $hit these kids are doing these days.
We are not “natural” entrepreneurs.
Mr. r&R was creative as a kid and young adult, but didn’t think about starting a business until he was in his mid 20s. Mrs. r&R, on the other hand, has been side-hustling since she was a teenager. During her awkward years, she was making and selling tee-shirts and baby-sitting after school. Even with that experience under her belt, she didn’t actually start a business until…well now.
It’s been six months since we officially shifted our thinking to turn this blog into a business and the journey has been crazy, in a good way. As expected, we’ve had ups and downs and we’ve learned a $hit-ton in the process. So to make sure we don’t forget this precious period, here are five lessons we’ve learned from our first 6 months of entrepreneurship.
1. Owning your time is a gift
Look, we have a two year old son and as much as we hate stereotypes, sometimes the terrible twos are turrible. But we get it! There’s a lot going on in that big ole baby head of his. He’s trying to figure out why oranges are the color orange, bananas aren’t the color banana and why grapefruits don’t taste like grapes; the fruit.
Whenever he’s grumpy and a little clingy during daycare dropoff, it’s comforting to know we can linger awhile, get down on one knee and re-assure him we’ll be back to pick him up like we always have been. Many of the other parents we see aren’t so lucky.
It’s heartbreaking to parents rushing out the door and starting conference calls in the daycare hallway because they know every second matters at their jobs or in the ATL commute. In those moments, we’re grateful of the tag-team approach we’ve chosen, because it enables us to prioritize his needs over our work needs at a moments notice.
2. But,owning your time is also a curse
Struggles with prioritization is the curse that comes with the gift of time. As entrepreneurs, your list of things to do is never-ending and new ideas come to you all the time.As creative entrepreneurs, you're living in a constant tug-of-war between nurturing new ideas and completing old ones. Click To Tweet
One minute you’re clicking on all cylinders and the next, you’re opening another Google doc or the Notes app to capture lightning in a bottle. It’s exhausting and energizing at the same time. The good news is, there is a much deeper sense of fulfillment in the work you do so whether you’re completing light tasks or checking off the really big stuff, knowing that all of them add immediate value to your life is amazing.
3. The sense of fulfillment is endless and immediate
Before quitting, Mr. r&R worked in a corporate environment for ten years. By all measures, some of those years were spent in “cushy” roles. You know the ones. You go to work, you talk yo $hit in a few meetings, you send a few emails and you come home. Somewhere in between talking $hit, the cc’s and the eye-roll inducing bcc’s you’re supposed to be ‘making things happen‘.
The thing is, when you work for a big company, it’s really hard to actually get things done because the business environment is so complex. It’s not enough that you’ve held up your end of the bargain. You also have to corral the other people who need to see, approve, integrate and act on your work within a reasonable timeline and budget to accomplish the overarching goal.
As entrepreneurs, we don’t have that problem because there are fewer links in the chain between an idea’s creation and getting it done. Furthermore, when you do get something done, the sense of fulfillment or value added is immediate and you don’t have to worry about someone else interpreting it differently. It’s just done…and it feels so good.
4. Even giving is better
One of the primary reasons we are pursuing financial independence is because we want to spend more of our time, energy and money solving problems we care about. As an employee, you don’t really have much time to do that unless you sacrifice your work, personal, family or even vacation time.
For example, not too long ago, Mr. r &R felt like doing some volunteer work, so he signed up for a volunteer session at the Atlanta Community Food Bank [ACFB]. It wasn’t a corporate team outing followed by forced fun cocktail hours and it wasn’t the holiday season. It was just a random Wednesday and he felt like helping out, so he did.
For three hours, he stacked and broke down boxes to keep a giant assembly line of donated food products flowing smoothly. It was a humbling reminder of what an ‘honest day’s work‘ really feels like and a great workout. On another note, it was a glaring reminder of how our government and big industry has selective empathy.There's no question we have enough food to feed all the hungry people in our country, but for some reason we haven't quite found a good enough reason to do it. Interesting. Click To Tweet
If we felt compelled to donate to ACFB or any other organization, we could just do it which is way better than pretending to care about the cause your employer thought was worthy of your time and in some cases, your money. No shade to those causes…just saying.
Summing up the first 6 months in one word is impossible unless you pull a Musiq Soulchild and say some ish like emotionalrollercoasterhopingforabetterfutureboo.
It’s been a whirlwind of ups and downs…but mostly ups. As Mr. r&R get’s bolder and more creative, Mrs. r&R serves as our anchor making sure we color within the lines. As the primary breadwinner, she provides the cushion we need to survive the entrepreneurial journey whole. But it’s not always easy, especially now that our work-days are so different.
Through it all, we’re encouraged because we see the light at the end of the tunnel and we feel well prepared to handle the season of change creeping over the horizon. We can only hope we’re more “fit” to weather the storm than Mrs. r&R was to do a pull up.
5. Having a community is so important
We talk a lot about the FIRE community because honestly, its one of the best parts of the FIRE movement. Little did we know, the same is true for entrepreneurship. Over the past six months, we’ve spent more time with other entrepreneurs than we have in our entire lives.
We’ve met people who are sitting on patents worth a gold-mine, digital entrepreneurs, writers, consultants, creatives and real estate investors. While they all have different stories and varying degrees of success not a single one of them had a regret for undertaking the journey. To be fair, they were all working really hard but they’ve tapped into an energy source I don’t believe most people have access to until you take the leap. But even outside of work…it's important to have people in your life who place the same value on time as you do. Click To Tweet
Otherwise, you’ll be stuck trying to explain your life decisions to people who don’t speak your language.
Do we have regrets? Absolutely not. We’re a family and everything we do…is for the betterment of our family. Do we have any tips? Of course! Get out of debt.
Get out of debt by any means necessary and as fast as humanly possible. While we don’t have any other life to compare it to, starting a business as a debt free entrepreneur who already earns passive income is SO much easier than the alternative. In a way, you could say during our debt payoff days, we were building a runway for this business. Now; we’re bracing for takeoff.