Tony Sargeant from Atlanta is someone I've billed as "one of my favorite customers." Tony's the rare bird who spends his time doing what he loves and is good at it while not being overwhelmed with running his business. Which also means he spends his time building and selling water features during the day and then comes home at night to Live the Lifestyle with his bride of 25 years. I wonder how many entrepreneurs out there started out doing what they love and were good at it only to find themselves dragged down to doing things they hated and subsequently weren't that good at -- all in a desperate attempt just to keep their heads above water while managing their own businesses? How nuts is that?!
Michael Gerber chronicles the trappings of entrepreneurs in his classic business book "The E-Myth." Aquascape's customer base is a classic Gerber case study in technicians who start businesses to free themselves from laboring at a trade for someone else -- only to find themselves enslaved by their own two hands. Often the allure of being your own boss soon becomes a case of "be careful what you wish for."
The irony is that so often those who work to help create the lifestyle for their customers end up doing so at the expense of their own lifestyles. Tony has managed to avoid that trap, and that's why he's one of my favorite people. Anyone who spends five minutes with the man will see the positive impact that living the same lifestyle he sells has had on Tony, his wife, and all those he touches. He's so filled with life, love, and optimism -- is it any wonder that his business is flourishing?! If only you could bottle a little bit of what Tony's got and get others to drink it, the world would be a better place. Now that's the kind of Kool-Aid I'd like to sell!
But, alas, for every Tony there are dozens more who feel trapped in a cage of their own making. The good news for all those who feel that way is that the solution is at hand. One of the things you need to do is to try to do what Tony did: Focus most of your effort on doing the things you're good at and try to off-load the things you're not good at. And if you think that involves hiring people with money you don't have -- think again. Tony downsized from multiple crews and multiple headaches to one full-time and one part-time guy. Today, his profits are better than ever! Just goes to show that finding the elusive Holy Grail of a work/life balance might just be as simple as living the lifestyle you sell.