One of the main reasons that aspiring entrepreneurs take the plunge into entrepreneurship is to do more of what they love. They are inspired by a passion and want to pursue more of it, only to find that once they start their business, they are actually doing less of it. Don’t take my word for it though; here is feedback from a whole host of passionate entrepreneurs about where they are spending their time:
Tara Kennedy-Kline of Tara’s Toy Box understands how you can get swept up by the romantic notions of your passion. She says, “The idea of following my dream and using my knowledge to open my own business was so romantic to me, but when I stepped away from the role of salesperson to open my own company, I had no idea how little time I would have to focus on those customers that I love so dearly because of all the administrative responsibilities I would need to handle as a sole proprietor!
I am learning quickly that delegation and process organization are essential to even the smallest start-ups if you intend to have the business of your dreams.”
Seth Mendelsohn of Simply Boulder Culinary Sauces illustrates the catch-22 that happens to many entrepreneurs. “My company makes super premium culinary sauces and it’s surprising how much time I’m spending on administrative tasks. I’d like to spend more time doing things such as product development, but I’m having to spend about 20 to 30 hours a week doing something that an administrative assistant could do. The problem is that my business can’t afford an administrative assistant right now. So, I pretty much have to do the administrative duties until I can afford an employee, which will probably be another year from now.”
Photographer M. Elizabeth Williams, also knows this catch-22 situation all too well. “If you went to my website today, where I keep my availability posted and updated in real time so people know when they can book me before they even reach out to me, you’d see I have a lot of busy time blocked off. Too bad most of it isn’t for photo shoots, but for administrative tasks, running business-related errands and networking. Oh my god, I have to do so much networking. Right now, it takes me three or four networking events (usually at two hours each) to get ONE client booking. Sure, I’m making contacts for the future so that if anyone else ever does need a photographer, they can reach me, but the future doesn’t pay the bills today. There’s also time booked off for pounding the pavement to meet local business owners who are willing to work with me to get the word out, answering phone calls that don’t usually pan out or declining non-profits soliciting my work for free.
The irony is, if I had a virtual assistant or PR person, I could take on more work, but I need to take on more work to be able to hire anyone. Such a catch-22!”
She wasn’t the only photographer feeling that way. Aaron Gil of FotoNuova Photography, LLC said, “I am a professional photographer with my own business. I went into business on my own thinking I would be shooting all the time. I soon found out that it’s 95% business type tasks (such as marketing, sales, networking, accounting, operations and customer service) and 5% shooting.”
Adriana Casey of Adriana Casey Photography concurred. “I recently started my own photography business. Photography has been my passion for many years, but I feel that a lot of that success is due to marketing efforts and relationship management skills I learned during my days as a sales professional. Also, with digital photography, there is a lot more ‘post production’ work that people have come to expect. Sadly, I spend a small percentage of my time with my camera in hand.”
Tracy French of The French Connection is a featured Wedding Planner on two Style Network wedding shows. Her story shows that success can beget more administration. She says, “Lately, I find myself inundated with tax issues, employee issues, more challenges with being incorporated versus a sole proprietor, trying to do my own PR, figuring out ways of growing my business and researching how to stay competitive. It is a never-ending battle.”
Steffany Boldrini who founded Ecobold.com has learned all sorts of new skills and taken on a variety of tasks to pursue her passion. She says, “I’ve left everything to follow my passion, showing the world new products that will save our planet. Yes, we do end up doing administrative things day and night…from my venture I’ve recently learned basic HTML, video filming, editing, the ins-and-outs of PR, social media, hiring interns, marketing, vendor research, product development and a million other things!”
Candy Keane of Three Muses Inspired Clothing is also in that same boat, “I turned my passion for costuming into a costume design business that grew into a retail boutique. Now I spend all my time running the business (the store, website, social networking, etc.) and have to squeeze-in making costumes. I brought in a lot of retail brands to have more to offer customers. I even posted a message on my site that I am not taking commissions for the next year because I am too booked up, but I’m really too booked with business stuff, not costume making!”
Tiffany Victoria Bradshaw of President of Bradshaw & CO. Business Consulting adds, “I have been running a business consulting firm for ten years full time and I really spend way more time than I like on other administrative tasks, including bill collecting and not as much time on my passions, which are marketing and coaching.”
And Gail Mayhugh of GMJ Interiors thought her transition from banker to designer would be the solution to her creative desires. However, that is not the reality of entrepreneurship. She says, “I’m the entrepreneur who changed careers from a Corporate Banker to an Interior Designer. I’m lucky to have my banking background because 85% of my work is paperwork, follow-up and project management. Over the years, the bigger I grew my business, the less I designed. There was even a time where I didn’t work with fabrics for almost 3 months! Even as I sit here today, I haven’t been able to work on one single interior design task.”
So, what do you need to take into consideration in evaluating entrepreneurship?
This is the reality for over 21 million entrepreneurs in the US alone, so make sure you take these realities into account when you evaluate the risks and rewards of business ownership.
Thanks to all of the entrepreneurs who took the time to share their experiences; you can check out their businesses through the links provided above.