For most entrepreneurs, one of the worst things that could ever happen is you having to working for someone else. If you are an entrepreneur who has been in the private/public sector as an employee, you know that emotional state that eats at you everyday like a maggot to a piece of flesh. I just finished a day of feeling like that, being on my feet non-stop for 7.5 hours, draining my body and wasting my time and energy for measly pay, and worst of all, on someone else’s dream. If you have read my previous articles you know the back story of why I am in this debacle. From entrepreneur to employee, this has been the lowest point for both my personal and professional lives. Despite being hit with this obstacle however, I have learnt many lessons, in what has become the perfect oxymoron. This is some of what I have been taught:
Never Say Never
Less than six months ago, I was the Co-Founder and VP of Marketing & Locations for a fast growing restaurant chain in NYC. My entrepreneurial career was on a high and the future was looking very bright. However, since that time, we have had to put lid on the business, and my life took a complete 360. I went from all the above to just another over qualified employment seeker on the job market. If you had told me 5 months ago that this would be the case, I would have laughed you to scorn. I would say you are wishing me bad luck and I would never have to be on the job market again looking to work for someone else. Well…today as I write this article, I just came home from an 8 hour shift where I did exactly that; work for someone else. I was always a believer in the expression “Never say never,” but like most people, I did not practice what I preached. This life lesson has taught me first hand from now on to “NEVER SAY NEVER.” The fact is, none of us knows what tomorrow holds, and you can be on the highest perch today, but tomorrow you could be at the bottom looking up at the top. The only thing constant in life is change, and our lives will continue changing for better or worse as we walk this earthly realm. The interesting part is, we never know where that change will take us.
When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, just like Beyonce, and that is exactly what I have done. I have many days where I feel down when in retrospection at where I was in my life just a few months ago to where I am now. But, at the end of the day life keeps moving, and you have to look for the lessons in your every day stories. Humility is one of the biggest lessons I have learnt on this journey. There is a certain peace of mind when you realize that life is bigger than you or any one person. You are simply a moving part in a puzzle that is always changing. You are no better than the homeless person or the man who sweeps the street. You are no more fortunate to be alive than the person who is battling an illness or struggling to make ends meet. We are all equal, and life has a fucked up way of showing you that. Never think you are too big to do the smallest things, never thing you are too powerful to do the simplest jobs. I went from owning a restaurant business to sweeping floors and serving food in someone else’s, and that is all I will say for now.
Money is a moving target
When you go from a comfortable lifestyle where most of your bills are paid, you are able to invest and you can buy most of what you want, there is a certain level of freedom to that. When it is the opposite, then things become stressful. You are working for someone else who is paying you almost minimum wage and you have to struggle to do small things such as buy food and pay rent. I had a comfortable enough life a few months ago. We had made it big for young migrants who just moved to the US in 2011. We had cars, a growing company with three locations, employees, ability to take trips and enjoy some of the perks of being a budding entrepreneur. Life was good. But then, we lost it all, and a valuable lesson was learnt. Money is just another “thing.” Do not get me wrong, its a valuable resource to survive in our made up world, but you should not let it be the master of your life. Money will always be there. We lost hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe millions when you imagine where our company could be today. But, the interesting thing is that all that money is still there to be gained again, double folded, triple folded and quadrupled. Do not let the spoils you have now overcome your thoughts and actions, because all the material stuff can be lost in a split second, but can also be regained. Money is a moving target, you just have to learn to adapt to having little or having much.
Working for someone else, especially when you were your own boss can really hurt. It demotivates, it stresses and it strips away your pride. It also teaches you valuable lessons such as how to avoid having to be in such a situation again, but most of all it has taught me to “never say never”, how to be humble and that money comes and money goes. The hard truth is there is a lesson to everything in life, especially in adversity.
What lessons have you learnt today?