Hump Day: The perils — and perks — of sleeping with the boss

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

Last week, I wrote about the challenges of being an entrepreneur and the fact that I would be sharing my experiences with some new business owners at a seminar they were attending in order to learn the tricks of the trade.

The entrepreneur gods shone down on me this week as new clients came on board, a few more are standing in the wings, and current clients are going full throttle as their successes continue. As happy and grateful as I am, I have to admit, I’m terrible at finding a balance in all of this.

And I told that to the class I met. On the balance part, my talk to them was definitely a “do as I say and not as I do” cautionary tale. Take vacation. Sleep. Don’t take on more than you can handle. Ask for help if you need it. Manage expectations.

This week, for the first time, I needed to ask for help. I actually needed to farm out some work to trusted colleagues so that I could meet deadlines. “Great!” Right? Well, of course, right! But, it’s an adjustment. When you’re a control freak in your business (and many entrepreneurs are), it’s sometimes a stretch to start asking for help.

But it has to be done. It’s the only way to increase your income, first of all. There are only so many hours in the day for me to work. And to be quite honest, it’s about time that I learned to share. Of course, I still control quality and deal with clients, but I just need some help on a few things and am happy to spread some work around to others.

You can only make money if you have others making money for you, too. And although I have to share that income by paying them, I still earn some. And let’s be honest, 25 per cent of something is more than 100 per cent of nothing. And if I’m ever going to take a vacation other than being forced to due to deaths in the family, I’m going to have to learn to share and have some resources out there who can take over when I’m not available.

Ah, the life of a control-freak entrepreneur. It’s like being three years old in the sandbox at the playground all over again and having to share my bucket and pail with the other kids. It’s one of those things that has to be done.

It’s also a bit unbelievable. I’ve found myself thinking, “Hey, this thing is actually working. Cool!” It’s a good problem to have. Now, I just have to learn to put trust in others as my clients and colleagues have put their trust in me. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. A person needs to sleep. A person needs down time. A person needs to take time off. Working 12 to 16-hour days with no vacation is not sustainable.

I have friends who are younger than I am dealing with health issues that need to be closely watched. I have another friend who lost a husband who was only in his early 50s due to lung cancer only five months after diagnosis. We just don’t know what’s coming our way, and a person has to take time to stop and smell the roses.

Speaking of roses, I saw some on sale for half-price the other day. I bought a dozen red roses for the crazy low price of only $7.50. The lady in back of me at the cash even said, “Someone’s going to be happy when you get home!” When I brought them home, my son asked, “Who gave you those?”

In reality, they were a gift from my boss for working like a dog over the past couple of weeks. Yeah, I bought them for myself. I didn’t care if it looked weird to do so. I needed to give myself something a little frivolous. Besides, they were only $7.50! I’m cheap — even when it’s for myself.

Whether it’s a day at the spa, fresh flowers, a night out at the movies or some other nicety, it’s important for entrepreneurs to treat themselves from time to time. No one else is going to do it. You don’t have a boss to give you a bonus. If you’re going through a particularly busy time, remember to pamper yourself a bit. When you turn off the computer at midnight, let the dog out to do her business and then crawl into bed wiped from a busy day, it’s just good for the mental health to spoil yourself a bit.

Now, I can tell people that my “boss” bought me roses and they share my bed at night, too. Oooh! A big scandal! They also shower with me… and I’m on the verge of suing them for sexual harassment. The pervert also insists on being there when I use the bathroom. Sicko! When you’re your own boss, it comes with the territory, eh?

But, you know, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a great learning experience. Entrepreneurship has its highs and lows. The good and the bad. When I owned my first business more than 20 years ago, only to see it go down up in flames in spectacular fashion, I never thought I’d be an entrepreneur again.

In fact, I have to admit that it held me back for a long time because the thought of owning my own business again was absolutely petrifying. I’ve had to work like a dog. I’ve networked like crazy. I’ve shown gratitude and thanked people profusely. I’ve tried to be generous and refer business to others. I’ve really tried to do all the right things.

My initial terror at starting my own business faded a long time ago. Now, I’m becoming more confident as the weeks, months and years pass. At some point, and at a certain age, you just have to come to the conclusion that you have something to offer, but don’t expect any favours. Entrepreneurs work hard for their “luck.” I know I have.

One Response to Hump Day: The perils — and perks — of sleeping with the boss

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this article. You are so right; we entrepreneurs are dyed-in-the-wool control freaks and it is very hard to let go.

    You’ve offered some excellent advice to existing and would-be entrepreneurs – and if those lessons aren’t learned, stagnation is inevitable.