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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Don’t Let Your Basic Undershirt Turn You Into A “Basic Brian”

“Basic” has become a somewhat derogatory term recently. There’s the “basic bro” that consumes heavy amounts of protein, grunts when he works out and wears clothes one size too small. There’s the “basic b!&%h” who loves her Uggs, yoga pants and pumpkin spice latte everything. I always laugh when people joke about basic people. Who wants to be grouped into this mass of people who comically do the exact same stuff?

I’ve noticed someone within office culture over the years that deserves a title. I’m going to term him as “Basic Brian”. Here’s the general description of “Basic Brian”:

  • Likes the status quo
  • Doesn’t bring new ideas
  • Always responds that he’s “fine”. He’s never “good”
  • Wears pretty much the same thing to the office everyday. Grey or tan khaki slacks with either a blue or white button down.
  • A “Yes Man”
  • Rarely does anything interesting on the weekends
  • A grey or beige sock guy
  • ALWAYS wears a white cotton crew neck undershirt. Does not leave home without it.

Sadly, I used to be a “Basic Brian”. When I started my career in my 20’s, I really just wanted to blend in. That meant being basic in my actions at work and how I dressed.

I didn’t want to annoy anyone by pushing ideas or draw unnecessary attention to what I wore. I soon found out that the being like everyone else strategy doesn’t work out in the end. The reason is that I WAS LIKE EVERYONE ELSE! How am I supposed to get ahead?

It took me a little while to actually realize I had good ideas. That I could lead the thinking of teams and drive change. I could act fast. I was willing to work harder than other people. People actually liked working with me. I was better than “Basic Brian”!

As my confidence grew, I wanted to make sure people recognized me around the office. I wanted to be known as different. Before someone even said one word to me, I wanted them to think I looked sharp and put together. Those first impressions are very important! I started shopping a little differently from there.

The Change

When I went shopping, instead of going right for the basic wear, I walked right past it. I walked by the tan khakis piled on more tan khakis. I walked by the standard fitting blue button downs. Instead, I bought slim fitting clothes that worked better with my body. I got some bolder colors in both my shirts and my pants. I then made changes in my socks and undershirt.

I threw every sock and undershirt I had into the trash. My standard Gold Toe beige socks and white cotton crew neck Hanes basic undershirt HAD to go. What I wanted out of each of those items of clothing changed.

Socks: I wanted to go from blending in to now actually popping out. I am a fun and energetic guy. I wanted my socks to represent that a bit.

Undershirt: The white cotton basic undershirt is the definition of basic. I needed an undershirt because I would sweat a lot, but it was something I didn’t want anyone to see. I wanted my new clothing to stand out and not my undershirt.

This was a Super Bowl TV commercial making fun of a basic guy who had a white undershirt on AND beige socks. 

 

Over a 6 month period, I looked like a new person. I became known as “stylish”. People actually came to me for tips on clothing. I walked around more confidently knowing that I looked and felt great. My skillset that I brought to work was now matched by the correct exterior appearance.

I look back on my “Basic Brian” days and shake my head. I was better than that. The talent was always in me, but I needed a mental transition as well as an exterior one. I felt like I was only as good as my $2 white cotton basic undershirt and beige socks.

I work at a major corporation and see “Basic Brians” throughout the halls all day. I think it’s fine if your personality is one of conformation and you’re comfortable there. I want to urge people that if you’re not a “ Basic Brian” to make changes. Speak up more in meetings. Challenge the status quo a bit. It’s 2017 and the business world is in massive transformation. New and different ideas are needed!

Once you find that voice, start changing your wardrobe to the point where you look in the mirror and see the guy you want to become. And hopefully, that man does not have a basic white cotton undershirt on!

 

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5 Side Hustle Tips from Someone Doing It

 

Having a side hustle seems to be a very popular thing these days. You've heard chatter from some of your friends who are working on something on the side, and you're interest is peaked. 

Perhaps your main job that consumes most of your waking hours just isn’t enough. You may need that side hustle for extra income or to eventually grow into a main hustle.  I’ve been doing my side hustle starting a premium undershirt brand, Sloane, while I’ve been rising in the corporate world in marketing at P&G over the past 7 years. 

I’ve had some highs like hitting our Kickstarter goal, pitching on CNBC’s West Texas Investors Club and seeing the company continue to grow. I’ve had some lows like getting on the Today show while we were 100% out of inventory, borrowing money from a friend that took 2X the time I said I would pay it back and tireless nights where I come home from a long day and then need to log serious hours to get Sloane off the ground. 

 

I’ve learned a few things along this journey that I’d love to pass along. We still have a long way to go to get to our goals, but we’ve been side hustling for 7 years, and we keep growing. It’s been a success in my eyes and we see massive white space to keep going.

Today, I hope part of my journey can help you with your side hustle. Here are 5 side hustle tips to help your side hustle be a success.

 

1. Do NOT Go Into it Thinking You’re Going to Get Rich

The number of startups that fail is sobering. Forbes reports that 90% of startups fail. 90%!!! So not only are the odds not with you that you’ll get rich, but the odds are that you would lose everything!

Going in eyes wide open is critical because you have to be ready to do what it takes to succeed. Be that 10%. Your product or service, work ethic, marketing, fulfillment, team, etc need to be on point!

But if your first idea fails, don't worry and don't stop! Chalk it up as a learning experience and move on to the next one.

 

2. Be Clear on Where the Hours Will Come From

A side hustle happens on top of your current job. If you are a person that works 8 to 6, then you need to find the hours in addition to those times to work on your business. Are those your TV hours? Are those your softball team hours? Are those your workout hours?

Sacrifices will have to be made to find those hours. I moved to Cincinnati when Sloane started and didn’t get a TV. Those old TV hours turned into Sloane side hustle hours.

 

3. Make Sure Your Idea is Strong

Before you jump in, make sure you do the leg work on the idea. What consumer problem are you solving? How do you plan to create your idea? How do you plan to sell your idea? Do people like your prototypes? Get input from people who you trust. The last thing you want to do is jump in by sinking your life savings into something that’s a bad idea.

If you get some initial wins with a concept or early prototype, then you will have a higher likelihood to succeed. We gave our prototypes out to friends. Once we received positive feedback, we put it on Kickstarter. Once that succeeded, we knew we had something.

 

4. Be Clear on Where the Money is Coming From

The rule of thumb in startups is that things take twice as long and cost twice as much as you think. Having cash is everything. If you don’t have it, then it becomes very hard to even take the first step.

If you are going to take money from savings, then you have to be ok with the possibility losing it all. Can you still go on? This is where the massive risk taking comes in that separates true entrepreneurs from wannabe entrepreneurs. Are you willing to put your own hard earned money into your idea? Where will the money come from if you need more?

 

5. Be Patient

It takes awhile to build a company when you’re working full time. It takes much longer when you can only give a few hours a day max. I had high hopes Sloane would take off quickly, but the reality was that giving 10 hours a week won’t move things quickly.

You have to be ok with making steady progress versus major leaps. If you have a team, then you can scale your time and move faster. It likely never feels like you’re moving fast enough when it’s just a side thing.

The fatal flaw is underperforming at the job that pays the bills trying to put in extra time on your startup to make it go faster. If you’re patient and have the right expectations you can make it happen!  

 

About the Author: Mike Droessler is a Brand Manager at P&G working in Digital Innovation and also the Founder of Sloane Men, the maker of The Invisible Undershirt.  He attended Wharton for his undergraduate and USC for his MBA.  Sloane’s mission is to make guys better.  His breakthrough undershirt helps them look their best, but he also shares style and professional tips to help men in more aspects of their lives.

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