Do You Have To Risk It All To Become An Entrepreneur?



Safe and Steady

I consider myself a pretty risk averse person. I’ve taken the safe route most of life.  I went to a good college hoping to put myself on the right track.  I went into a stable industry post undergrad to ensure I had a steady paycheck to pay bills and save.  After a while, I wanted to push for more, so I applied to business school to try to get me to the next level.  Even after business school, I decided to go to one of the largest companies in the world to learn marketing. 

Entrepreneurship wasn’t even on my radar when I went to USC for business school. They had an entrepreneurship program and I didn’t even look to take one class.  I was headed for safety and stability.  Things changed in my second year when I came up with the idea for Sloane with my co-founders, Jason and Danielle.  Something clicked in my head and I just knew the idea had legs.  That’s when I entered the realities of entrepreneurship.

That's when I had to ask, "do I have to risk it all to become an entrepreneur?"

 

The Power of the Idea  

We had the idea. We had the energy.  We now needed to START.  Starting takes money.  Our parents weren’t going to bankroll us.  We didn’t have rich friends.  It became clear early that we were going to have to go into our savings to make this happen.  Instead of the nice car, the Roth IRA investment, the vacation, etc…..the money was going into making prototypes, designing a logo and getting a website up and running. 

A decision had to be made at that point. Are you in this or are you not?  If you are in this, you will start making financial decisions that will hurt your stomach.  The calls you have to make will get more and more expensive as time goes by.  They will get to the point where you will feel like you are risking everything.

My transformation from a risk averse guy looking for the safest path possible to making financial calls that would make my mom sick was a pretty quick one. It happened when I got the idea for Sloane and flipped a switch in my brain that I was going to do everything I could to make it successful.  If I failed, then I would at least do it chasing my passion!  No regrets. 

 

Risk Averse And Risk Taking

Having a full time job while I got Sloane off the ground was the only way I could balance my risk averse nature with my desire to create and build. If things really totally fell apart, then I would still have my salary to keep me going.  I see this as the model for people to actually start their dream business.

Going “all in” is a hot thing to say right now. You’re not a corporate square.  You’re controlling your own destiny.  That’s all well and good until your startup fails and you lost it all!  I’ve seen too many startups fail to believe that’s a sound decision.  Refer to my earlier article about the dream vs. reality of becoming an entrepreneur to get the exact numbers on your likelihood for success as an entrepreneur!

Working a full time job will absolutely slow down the process. You just aren’t able to spend enough hours on your startup to get it quickly off the ground.  There is a downside to that, but there is also an upside.  You are not making rash decisions.  The pressure to accelerate hyper quickly to get revenue producing ASAP isn’t there. 

 

The Power of Time

If you start your own business, there are going to be a lot of decisions you’ll have to make where you will balance the consumer experience versus your need for cash. Do you have time to do the extra revision on the website, undershirt stitching, new logo design, etc? 

If you are forced to make decisions solely based on speed in these areas, then you are exposing yourself for a poor consumer experience with your product.  Once the consumer isn’t happy, you are dead in the water.  We found on Sloane that it was worth doing the extra revision.  It was worth delaying the Kickstarter campaign.  It was worth taking an extra 2 months to get the logo perfect.  Without the need for cash we could make those decisions with a clearer head. 

You don’t want to be slow and do 400 revisions before you finally get something out. That won’t work either.  Feeling forced to push the first version is where the risk is.  Sometimes things need a little time to breathe.  You need time to think about what’s the right thing to do. 

 

The Decision

What if you knew you could start your own company and not risk it all? I think a lot of people would consider giving their idea a shot.  Working a full time job while getting things off the ground is the way to go.  The next question would be how badly do you want it?  Are you willing to put in those nights and weekends?  Sloane has grown while I’ve worked some of the most demanding jobs of my life.  It can absolutely be done! 

Taking out the financial risk removes a big barrier. Now you need to look in the mirror and think about how valuable your free time is to you.  That’s a question only you can answer. 

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2 Ways An Undershirt Can Help Stop Sweat At Work

 

Sweating at work is the worst, but it doesn't have to kill your confidence. In this article, we look at 2 ways an undershirt can help you stop sweat at work. 

When I start sweating at work, here is that famous quote that always runs through my mind.

“Never let them see you sweat”

And yet there I am...sweating at work. It could happen for multiple reasons.  It’s hot out on my way to work.  I’m rushing into work.  I’m in a warm room.  I get anxious.  I have some unexplained menopause situation where I just miraculously start sweating in front of people (let's hope not).

It happens. And it’s embarrassing.  It kills my confidence.  I often get very quiet and try not to bring any attention to the sweat on my forehead.  I might be in an important meeting and there I am being quiet.  I’ll try to quickly wipe sweat from my face trying to avoid people noticing.  That usually doesn’t work though.  Sweat has been a mortal enemy of mine for pretty much my whole life, and helping to stop sweat and it's damaging affects is the main reason I started Sloane. 

So, how can an undershirt help stop sweat? Two ways. 

 

1. Breathability

I wanted to create an undershirt that was more breathable than cotton to help prevent you from overheating. The thick cotton undershirt I used to wear felt like a parka when I started getting warm.  It was heavy on me when I NEEDED something light.  It made me sweat even worse!

When you are warm you need that heat moving away from you. If it’s stuck close to you because it can’t escape your body heat will rise.  The standard white cotton undershirts aren’t designed to help with your body heat and stop sweat.  Under Armor has done very well creating moisture wicking material for athletes.  However, there are some people (me!) who need more help with sweat in the office, not while running on the treadmill.

The material for the Invisible Undershirt from Sloane is a siro micro modal and spandex blend. The siro micro modal is thin, light and 50% more breathable than cotton.  Most people who try it often can’t tell that they even have an undershirt on.  It feels totally different from the heavy cotton most guys are wearing now. 

 

2. Soaking

There are some situations where you will just sweat. The temperature is just too warm outside.  You’re stuck in a cramped meeting room and the temperature in the room is unbearable.  You might just get so anxious in a situation that you break out sweating. 

The picture below is from a P&G recruiting event that was held outdoors in August. It was one of the hottest days of the year.  The heat index was 100 degrees plus. And, the humidity was no joke.  People there were DYING.  It was impossible not to sweat!

I was out there and was so worried. I was meeting a lot of the new recruits for the first time and was I just going to profusely sweat in front of them?  Was I going to leave hours early to avoid the embarrassment?  I had a Sloane undershirt on, but was worried I was just in an impossible situation where it was TOO hot.  I was blazing hot, but the sweat wasn’t getting to my outer shirt. 

If I had no undershirt on at all my outer shirt wouldn’t gotten totally soaked. I was definitely sweating.  The Sloane undershirt absorbed all that sweat!  I couldn’t believe it absorbed THAT much sweat. 

 

The Invisible Undershirt keeps you cool. If you do happen to sweat it can absorb a good amount of sweat before it goes to the outer undershirt.  Now you can have that no undershirt look without giving up on the absorption benefits of the undershirt!

Shop The Invisible Undershirt today and stop sweat in it's tracks and feel more confident wherever you are. 

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The Sacrifice to Be an Entrepreneur

 

Starting your own business is a challenge.  Starting your own business when you have a full-time job brings in a pretty big obstacle.  Where are you going to find the time for your job AND your startup?  What do you have to sacrifice to make your startup happen?  I wish there was an easy answer to this.  There isn't.  In order to work your full time job and be an entrepreneur, there needs to be some serious sacrifice.  

Starting Sloane 7 years ago, I jumped in with no real road map and felt like I'd just figure it out.  I've learned a lot about time management and money management over the last 7 years.  The good news is that I still have had time and money to travel, workout, sleep, hangout with friends, spend quality time with my wife and have an actual life.  The bad news is that a lot of things I used to enjoy and might want to have had to be sacrificed.  

The picture above is of my 23 year old car that people always wonder when I'm replacing. To be an entrepreneur, a 23 year old car is just one of many, many sacrifices I've made. Here are the things I had to cut or pull back on considerably to make my business a reality.

 

Bye Bye TV

I moved from LA to Cincinnati for my job.  I wanted to challenge myself with TV.  I had a very bad habit of getting totally consumed with shows and staying up til 1am watching marathons of shows like First 48.  I had issues!  That had to end.  I could no longer waste that time watching shows or random NBA games of the Knicks and Bucks playing.  I would just get sucked in.  

I decided to not get a TV when I moved.  I would see how long I would last before I NEEDED one because I would miss out on too many things.  5 years later I finally got a TV and cable.  During that time, I free'd up hundreds and hundreds of hours of me just vegging in front of the TV watching something that really wasn't helping me in any way.  

By completely getting the TV out of the house I eliminated any weakness that I would have to turn it on.  There was no option.  You might think this is crazy, but to be an entrepreneur, you are going to cut what feels like many crazy things. 

 

It's Bootstrap Time 

Having a full time job is so critical to help pay bills and get things up and running.  Before you even get one sale you need develop the product, make the product, build the website, make a logo, do a photo shoot, incorporate, etc, etc, etc.  Guess where all of this cashflow is coming from?  Your salary.  

The good news is that you have a salary because you're working full time, but the bad news is that you will have to sacrifice on things in order to have the cash needed to get the business up and running.  I had to put less money into my 401K, rent versus buy a place to live, be content with my 1994 BMW (see pic) with 200,000 miles on it versus something newer, travel less with friends, spend less on clothing and not go out to eat as much.  

That sounds like a lot of sacrifice.  It is.  That's what needed to happen to get it going though.  It's a luxury to have a parent or family member give you some capital, but that just was never an option for Sloane.  The money came from us.  In the end, it makes it that much more rewarding knowing that YOU did this.  I won't lie though......if an Uncle wrote me a check for $100K with no strings attached I would've taken it.  Ha.  That's always helpful, but if you don't have the mentality of bootsrapping, you'll blow right through that cash and now have to deal with the debt!

 

Relaxing Night After Work

When you are starting up a business on the side you need to find hours.  If you are working 40 to 50 hours a week on your job you basically have nights and weekends to work on your startup.  I used to play basketball after work.  I used to hangout with friends after work.  I used to go to happy hour after work.  I used to watch TV after work.  All of that changed when I wanted to be an entrepreneur.

sacrifice to be an entrepreneur - goodbye beer and partying

I would still do those things SOMETIMES.  I was in a beach volleyball league once a week.  I'd go to happy hour maybe once a month.  You read earlier what happened to my TV watching.  Those "fun" evenings after work now involved me plugging away on my computer working on all the details to get Sloane going.  The weird thing was that once I fully committed to Sloane I really didn't miss all that other stuff.  I was dialed in.  

I think the hardest thing for me was not seeing my friends as much.  I am an extroverted person and love grabbing beers with my buddies.  I just had to shut that off.  I couldn't do the happy hours and then come back to work on Sloane buzzed.  It still hurts me today making the call that those times with my friends have to be limited.    

 

Weekends are Business Time

My weekends are really valuable.  I find that as critical time to put into the business.  You often have more energy because you're not doing it after work.  You also have more time to do things like go talk to a potential partner or go to a convention.  I used to try to find things to do every weekend.  Golf.  Vegas.  Concert.  Late night partying.  I haven't 100% cut those things off, but they have been lessened considerably.  

I can't wake up at noon hungover anymore.  That's a total waste of time that could've been used for my business.  Instead, I will go out until 11 and be in bed by midnight instead of 3am.  I can get up at 8 feeling good and ready to put in some time on Sloane.  It was also a bad habit staying out THAT late.  

Whatever you do on your weekends, it will have to be reallocated.  I don't spend all day everyday on the weekends banging away on Sloane, but hours need to be put in.  I still need to recharge going into the week and enjoy myself.  I absolutely do that, but I am much more calculated about where I spend the hours.  

 

The Kids Factor

I have been able to get Sloane up and running without kids.  Kids are a factor I did not have to manage.  You do not want to be the MIA dad that put everything into his company.  You will just need to make some different choices.  I listened to a How I Built This podcast recently where the founder had 2 kids and a job.  She said she spent the weekday evenings devoted to her kids and then worked on her business when they went to bed.  She stayed up until 3am!

The sacrifice of sleep might be more of a factor when you have kids.  You want to be present for them in the evenings.  That leaves you the late evenings to grind.  

 

What I Did Not Sacrifice

Having energy to make it through the grind is critical.  In order for me to feel healthy and happy I need a daily workout, healthy food and enough sleep.  I have been good about getting those through this journey.  If I gained a ton of weight and was just fatigued everyday, then Sloane would suffer.  I made sure to prioritize my health to have the energy to be an entrepreneur and work my daily 9-5. 

My family and close friends are everything to me.  I made sure I stayed in touch with them no matter what. Some of my trips to see everyone might have gotten cut to save money and have more time, but I absolutely made sure to stay in touch.  I don't want to look back with a successful company and then not have any friends and a pissed off family.  Make sure they get the time they deserve!

 

The Sacrifice 

A lot of people talk about their great ideas and what COULD BE.  That's all talk until you take the step to bring it to life.  What I just laid out talks about the sacrifices it takes to be an entrepreneur and make dreams a reality.  Many people just aren't willing to give up that much.  I totally respect that.  I probably would have had way more fun if I had more money and more time to enjoy myself.  

Sloane is a dream that I want to see through.  I don't want to look back 30 years from now and think that my need for a new car and watching TV was what prevented Sloane from making it!

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