As I write this, I'm in England visiting my family. While this is a trip I've taken many times since emigrating to Canada seven years ago, it's the first time I'm doing so as a full-time entrepreneur. Previous trips involved asking permission to take time off from a day job -- something I resented immensely. I'm a grown woman and I'll take time off when I want to, thank you very much - that I would ultimately return to two weeks later.
But this time it's different. I'm my own boss. If I choose to stay in England for an extra week or, hell, an entire month, there's very little that inhibits me from making this decision. Having this level of freedom is the very reason I started my business in the first place. It was my sole motivation behind setting up a digital practice, too.
One that allows me to pick up my office -- my MacBook and its accessories plus my iPhone -- and hop on a flight to wherever the heck I please. And the whole experience has prompted me to cast my mind back to those days when I was working a full time day job while I was setting up my business. It was my reality for around 18 months and it's still very much fresh in my mind.
I didn't talk about it at the time. I chose not to share with prospective or current clients why I was able to meet them at 3pm on a Tuesday. The reason? I had started working at my office job at 7am that day to enable me to leave early and arrive on time. Why wasn't I more open about this? Well, to put it bluntly, I was embarrassed. I thought having a day job made me less of an entrepreneur. Now look back and realize I was simply an entrepreneur at an early stage of her journey.
There are many of you who are currently experiencing this. So if you're reading these words from your office cubicle, I have some encouragement for you. There is a long list of business moguls who rolled up their sleeves and worked a 9-to-5 as they built their empire. Here are just three of them.
The brilliant Sara Blakely is the well-known founder of Spanx, but what you may not know is that she worked a day job selling fax machines for the first two years of her business and sold her hold-em-ups in the evenings. She of course went on to quit her day job, but only once she was sure her business model was solid and she had a steady cashflow from those sales. It goes without saying that it paid off massively. In 2012, Sara Blakely was named as the world's youngest self-made female billionaire and today Spanx is sold in more than 50 countries throughout the world.
The British business mogul is arguably one of the world's best known entrepreneurs, owning more than 200 companies in over 30 countries with an estimated net worth of $4.9 billion. But did you know his current success can be attributed to a venture he started to make ends meet? Yep. Back in 1966, he dropped out of high school and founded a magazine named Student. He needed funds to help grow his publication and so he started a mail-order record company called Virgin. It became a bricks and mortar store on London's Oxford Street and in 1972 he was able to build a recording studio. And we all know where the story goes from here.
Raised by a single Mom in Queens, the Shark Tank regular built his empire on good old-fashioned elbow grease. Without enough money to go to college, Daymond John diligently worked as a waiter at Red Lobster. Around this time, he was inspired by the thriving hip-hop scene and decided to create clothing under the name of For Us By Us (FUBU). The first items were sewn by him and his mother in their living room and with time and hard work, the items became popular. By the early 90's, FUBU clothing was featured in music videos by artists like Beyonce. Today, the former waiter has an estimated net worth of $250 million.
A bonus tidbit of information for you -- a paper in the Academy of Management Journal found that entrepreneurs who take on a full-time or part-time job to support building their business cut their risk of failure by a third. Yep -- a third.
If you're reading this at your dreary office cubicle and feeling exhausted by your side hustle, rest assured that you are simply earning your stripes as an entrepreneur.
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