05 Mar Lessons Learned From Owning a Business
Lessons Learned from
Owning a Business
Hi, all! It’s a Saturday, and like most weekends we are holding an open house! Our Saturdays and Sunday’s sure are practically unrecognizable from our past life in corporate. Owning a business can do that, I suppose. Between visitors today, we are taking a few moments to reflect on lessons learned, as one should from time to time.
Back when the two of us were working in corporate finance, we had the typical Monday-Friday, 9-5 work schedules. Our lives looked something like this:
Force ourselves out of bed on Monday morning, mourning the end of a short weekend.
Mindlessly float (drag) through Tuesday and Wednesday, dreaming of the freedom of the weekend ahead.
Thursday, a stirring: the week is almost over!
Unceremoniously rush through remaining work, pray a late meeting isn’t called, and swoosh out of the office 5 minutes early on Friday afternoon, and the weekend begins. Life resumes, if only for two days.
Nowadays, “Happy Friday” doesn’t have the same ring to it for us. While most days are still happy, the weekend doesn’t bring the reprieve from a monotonous work-week. In fact, our weekends are usually the busiest days of all for us! My, how things change.
Now that we have settled (somewhat) into owning our own business, there are a few lessons that we have learned, each as impactful on our lives as the last. Today I’d love to share a bit of what we’ve learned!
Starting a business takes work…more than we ever could have imagined.
This might sound like a given, but the two of us had no idea what we were in for when we both quit our jobs in 2014 and committed to the idea of running a business. Gone were the days of long weekends with friends. Sick days no longer paid for themselves. Paid vacation? More like, work through your entire vacation from the hotel lobby on your laptop — on your own dime!
We sacrificed (and still sacrifice) a lot of time with family and friends to build momentum in our business. Sometimes it stings more than others, but we do it with the trust and knowledge that we will see a far greater return in the future, in the form of more flexibility and a higher income than we could ever have wished for in our past work lives. It will just take us a few years to get there!
Most people won’t understand.
People are wired to seek security, and given the failure rates of most types of small businesses, starting one generally isn’t a secure thing to do. This being said personally have all but given up explaining my vision to family and friends — they just won’t get it. Their eyes glaze over as they imagine the impossible idea of quitting a secure job with a salary and a full health and retirement package, and then quickly shake it off: “I could never do that.”
It’s okay that people don’t understand. We work hard on building our business and dreams. It might have been hard to find support when we were just starting, or when business is down, but once we achieve the success we are striving for, they come out of the woodwork cheering. We no longer worry about trying to convince our friends and family that what we are doing is smart; actions speak louder than words, and we try to prove that we know what we are doing by achieving our goals.
Get comfortable with risk.
The very nature of our business is risk. That’s just one of the things you need to live with in a 100% commission business. Not a lot of people know this, but real estate agents don’t get paid – at all – until someone moves in or out of the house. That means that we can spend hours and hours showing houses or marketing a new listing — but if someone doesn’t buy, or the house doesn’t sell, we aren’t compensated for our time. Considering that the average real estate transaction requires about 100 hours of time, this is a big, big, deal.
But, with high risk comes high reward. For every time we feel let down, we get the amazing experience of helping a family buy their first home, or getting a cash offer within days of listing a home for a client. In business, there are ebbs and flows, highs and lows, but all in all, owning your own is the most rewarding experience one can have!
All work and no play makes for totally ineffective business owners.
Owning a business is incredibly demanding, and it can seem like there is a never ending “To-Do” list of projects, simple (-ly tedious) tasks, and loose ends that need to be addressed. It can be very easy to fall into a pattern of working long hours, days and days on end. Suddenly, you look up in late spring from your most recent project, and you realize you haven’t taken a day off in that calendar year. (This may or may not have happened to us. Twice.)
Not only is this unsustainable and unhealthy for you and your relationships, but it’s also detrimental to your business. Your level of productivity is directly correlated to your ability to relax, and if you don’t take time to recharge, you become less efficient and less effective, and your business will suffer. The best thing I do to keep myself sharp? I exercise 5 days a week, usually at the beginning of the day. Nothing like getting that heart rate up to clear the mind and sharpen your focus!
For all the blood, sweat, and tears, we still wake up every day ready to tackle the day and serve our clients the best way we know how. This is meaningful work to us, and we have such a sense of fulfillment from owning Lugo & Co. That being said, it’s important to take stock in what we’ve learned, so that we can constantly better ourselves, and our business!
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned from owning a business? Please share by commenting below, we’d love to know!