Have you ever wanted to just up and quit your business? At least once a year, I wish that I could give it all up and work for someone else. As the years have gone by, though, I've started to notice this pattern: I usually feel most overwhelmed and stressed out just before I take a huge leap that will grow my business to the next level. The times I most want to quit are the times I know I must push forward. Sound familiar?
If you've ever felt this way--that sometimes you hate being an entrepreneur, but could never go back to being an employee--you're not alone.
There are days when I flat-out HATE being an entrepreneur. I feel responsible for my business, my family, my employees, and my clients. Yes, it's more responsibility than I should take on, and yes, I know these people are (for the most part) adults who can take care of themselves, but as the business owner, I still feel responsible. On those days, when my business feels like the biggest headache in the world, I wish I could be someone's employee. I wish that I could go to work and not give another thought to my job when I came home. I'd do my job, get paid, and not worry about the company's five year goals, profit and loss, or hiring and firing. It would be so much easier that way, wouldn't it?
Let's face it, I could quit, and so could you; we have other options. Personally, I'm way too much of a planner to be without at least three backup plans at any given time. Most of those include changing my business model, but I do keep my nursing license up-to-date so if worst came to worst, I could get a job as an RN. That's my "in case of emergency" plan, but quite honestly, the idea feels like a giant, soul-crushing sacrifice. (By the way, I'm not at all knocking the nursing profession--I highly respect nurses--being a nurse just isn't where my heart is.)
So why do we do it?
Some people might say we entrepreneurs are just too independent or stubborn, but personally, I think it's because many of us feel a sense of purpose that is much bigger than any "job." I know that what I do helps make the world a better place and helps other people do the same in their own unique ways. In some ways, it feels similar to a religious calling--that sense of connection to something greater than yourself. Not all entrepreneurs are altruistic, but almost all of the ones I know started their businesses because they had a big dream they wanted to fulfill and they would have regretted it if they didn't try. (By the way, Vocations.com says the three signs of a religious calling are a desire for the life, the right motivation, and fitness for the life...sounds like the same criteria for entrepreneurship, doesn't it?)
I'm guessing most entrepreneurs want to quit at some point, whether it's the annual "getting ready to take a big leap" moment like mine or just the moment when you realize there is no turning back. It means you care about the impact you have. Why? You want to leave a legacy.
As entrepreneurs, that leaves us feeling like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, especially when it comes to our businesses. We feel a profound responsibility to our employees, clients, and families--almost like Atlas, holding up the sky. It can be exhausting.
Sometimes I think entrepreneurship is an addiction. You know the feeling that you have to be an entrepreneur, and that nothing else could possibly give you the same sense of satisfaction? It's that. The feeling that even if the world fell apart around you, you would still have such an unwavering sense of purpose that you would keep doing the work you're here to do. And like other addictions, we typically end up sacrificing more of our lives to our businesses than we would ever consider doing as an employee.
When it comes down to it, I think we're entrepreneurs because we have to be. It's in our blood. We do it because we know that it's our chance to make a better life for our families, and for ourselves. We do it because there is no satisfaction greater than creating something that makes a difference. We do it because it creates a legacy.
And I don't know about you, but I wouldn't have it any other way.