This is a guest post by Joanne Miller. She is my wife and affectionately known as Queen Mother in the 48Days community. She writes, serves the needs of others and spends time with her grandchildren. Her newest book is titled Be Your Finest Art and that’s also the name of her group here in this community. She doesn’t use Twitter or Facebook but has more connections than anyone I know. If you’d like to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.
For four decades, Dan has been an entrepreneur doing everything from cleaning houses to becoming a writer, speaker and coach. He has sold cars and RVs, vocational schooling packages, telephone/address books, run a health and fitness club, an automotive after-market accessories business and painted houses. We had months of little to no income to months when we were flying high. We had times of vacationing in style to having the electricity cut off due to our inability to pay the bill. And, what’s the worst that could happen? Losing our home and cars? Yes, that happened too. It wasn’t a pretty picture. I can still remember that sinking feeling of numbness when our failing business sold at absolute auction for pennies on the dollar and we were left in mountains of debt. It took us over twelve years to pay it all back and be able to buy a house again, and even then we had to utilize some very creative financing.
Ah, yes, the joys of the entrepreneurial lifestyle. Let me dispel a few myths:
- Living the entrepreneurial lifestyle is so much easier than working a traditional J-O-B. In your dreams. Every entrepreneur I have ever run across works long, hard hours building and maintaining a business. Most would admit that having a “real job” would be easier.
- The entrepreneur has lots of freedom to work when he/she wants and leave the work behind when he/she wants. Freedom is subjective. Struggling to grow a business and pulling every financial resource together to pay bills and start up costs, diminishes the sense of freedom for a period of time and the family had better be willing to sacrifice.
- Being your own boss gives you peace and comfort in knowing you answer only to yourself. This is actually true. You answer to yourself (and your spouse) when the bills are overdue and you are solely responsible for them. And you answer to no one else when you have to hire, fire, motivate and oversee employees, partners and business associates. And you get to figure out taxes, insurance, liability, P & L’s and so on. Ah, the joys of being your own boss instead of letting someone else deal with all those details.
- A good education will get you where you want to go. Au contraire, my friend. A good education might help in some cases and is definitely a good life experience, but the entrepreneur knows having personality, a willingness to work hard and long will bring you more success than will most college degrees. Life is a good teacher. Failure is critical to reaching true success.
Now before you peg me for a cynic, let me say, I would not trade the frustration, fear, anger, despair, and worry to have lived a different life. I am a better person for having tenaciously hung onto the kite strings of this amazing flight. And, yes, I did feel all those emotions. There were times I railed at God through prayer and times when I simply didn’t even know how to pray any more. So I just waited. I waited to see what would happen next. And we never starved. I learned a lot about living in the moment.
We were never homeless (although we did spend ten months with Dan’s parents at one point…with three kids, a dog, a cat and all our possessions). Our kids didn’t suffer. And our marriage didn’t suffer. Back in 1968 when we were vowing to one another to stick together through thick and thin, we actually took that seriously. We never considered our lives together to be too hard to reconcile. Marriage is a lot like entrepreneurialism. If one is committed, one just keeps doing everything it takes to make it work.
Were there times I wanted to yell, “Just get a REAL job!!”? Of course there were. I thought it in my head many times. But realistically, I knew that working a real job would never be a fit for Dan and if he was miserable, the family would suffer. He would have made a horrible employee. He would have had a better way to do anything he was told and would have had a hard time being a team player. So I reconciled myself to that fact.
I believe in Dan. He is one of the wisest people I know and that is a lot of what attracted me to him in the first place. I love the way his mind works. The ideas he comes up with can sweep me away in the excitement of dreaming and planning. I want his bent towards adventure and the unknown to continue flowing into the experiences we have as a couple and a family and I think it makes all of us stronger and more interesting to be around. Was it hard when we lost our house and didn’t know where we were going next? Oh, yes it was. But it was an event. It wasn’t a person. It wasn’t our relationship. It wasn’t the demise of our family. It only helped us grow wiser and our children have benefitted from watching their parents stay united through thick and thin.
Being the wife of an entrepreneur is one of the biggest blessings of my life. I am glad I stuck through all the years of trial and error and didn’t decide to chuck it all for someone more “stable and secure”. I’m a better person for having been the support and stable influence that made our home a haven of peace and joy. No, it wasn’t all a grand ride. But the end result has been worth it and I can’t imagine a better education for myself and my family.
Are you embracing who you are and allowing your spouse to do the same?