Some thoughts after my third year into running my own business….
June 14, 2012
But if you can’t fit into your work place?
Ordinarily this may seem hard to understand – so let me start off with a few assumptions. Firstly, no one goes into business willingly. Why should they? Its far easier to turn the wheel of life as a salaried man. As I mention earlier it’s hardly a matter of choice – sometimes one is just compelled by circumstances to go into business. That’s one reason why whenever I hear people talking about the courage to start their own business. It reminds me of people who simply don’t know what they are talking about. They are like children talking about things they don’t really understand and have only gathered from picture books that are printed with oversized alphabets – the construction of the words are simple and leaves nothing to the imagination – and the pictures are always far more interesting than the plot itself. This is how it is whenever I hear about people who believe that starting your business is necessarily a courageous thing.
Well it’s not. Not to me at least. Or any of my friends (and I happen to know many businessmen – I mean tons and tons of them!) And I suspect that may well be the case for 99.9% of the people who regularly turn the wheel of life by running their own business – it matters not whether it is running a clinic, law firm, char kueh teow stand, mamak corner shop or even running a basement factory that churns out vibrating toys to make spinsters happy during cold and lonely nights – in every single case, whenever you get to know more about the man who runs his own enterprise. The chances are….
He never once had anything resembling a choice – it was either this or nothing – do or die.
“Speak to any businessman and 9 out of 10, he probably wouldn’t tell you the real reason why he felt the need to go into business. All they will tell you is that they want to be their own boss. But if you look at their history, usually it is checkered and pockmarked – they were probably the ones who got a rough ride as a salaried man – they might not have been great team players or even model workers; they may have even been passed over for promotion as their bosses felt, he just didn’t have the right attitude. Or maybe they simply couldn’t fit in wherever they once worked and stuck out like a sore thumb. Some may have even be considered crazy by their work colleagues.
In summary, the vast majority of these people simply had a hard time fitting into the system.
My point is when these people first decide to START their businesses – many of them only really have one thought in their head. They no longer want to live their for others anymore – they are have reached an end point. A decision nexus in their life where they simply feel rightly or wrongly: enough is enough – and from now onwards all they want to do is to do their own thing. Their own way, without having the grief of someone bearing down over their shoulders – in other words, these people have all been defeated in one way or another by the world.
That is the reason why you will never get the truth out from any businessman when you ask him – why did you go into business for yourself? As the truth is probably something very embarrassing. As these people have actually failed in their day jobs.
But the funny thing abt running your own business with this sort of mixed bag attitude is that you can really only do very well in whatever you choose to go into – and the reasons are very simple. Failure is not an option. Fuck it all up and you will probably have to beg for your day job back. So in the first three years you put your heart and soul into it and get to know so much about your industry that eventually you even become an authority on your own industry – and when you speak about your area of expertise there is a gravitas and a seriousness that you rarely find in people who might also be in the same industry – but since they are just salaried men, they really haven’t seen or experienced the nuanced side of the business process yet. You know almost intuitively – it’s is really no urgency in their words or even the way they organize their thoughts.
You will probably see this somewhere in the second year of running your own business – by this period of time, you have gathered enough to crave up your own way – to know what works and what is likeliest to explode into a million pieces – to even know whether you can stay out late and still make it for that killer appointment tomorrow at 8.30 am. What I am trying to say is you will know more and more about yourself – and this will really come across to the people who you will mix with in your church, the golf club and even when you go to the shop downstairs to get a carton of milk. In other words you have become a different person from the man you used to be – something has changed; you can’t be sure of it yourself. But others who have known you before sense this change – they can see that hard substrate that lies beneath your affable and congenial self – they know that you have gone through a door and walked into another level of consciousness where you NOW see the world with very different eyes. As for you. You will never really know how much you have changed.
I wish, I could say this change is all good. But that would be dishonest. But that is really another topic that is best left for another day.”