A few nights ago, I watched the movie ?Parenthood? again. ?About two-thirds of the way through the movie, there?s a moment where Gil Buckman, the main character played by Steve Martin, compares raising a young family to riding a rollercoaster.?And he doesn?t really like rollercoasters. He prefers merry-go-rounds, which are more predictable, without the really high ups and really low downs experienced in a rollercoaster ride.
In my experience, running a business — just like raising a family — is more like a rollercoaster and less like a merry-go-round. It can be unpredictable, fast-moving, and can have very high highs and very low lows. One day, you have to figure out how to manage your overabundance of cash; another day, you are struggling to meet payroll, cut costs, and find more work to feed the beast. This unpredictability and lack of assurances is what drives 99% of people to choose to work for a predictable paycheck instead of ?doing their own thing.?
But is this predictable paycheck from a third party really that predictable? For how long? Until you are too expensive and can be replaced by tech-savvy twenty-somethings who are willing to work twice as hard for half the pay and don?t even care about health insurance or 401K plans? Or until the company has a large downturn and you just happen to be among the more expensive cats on the payroll? Just how safe is your steady stream of paychecks from your employer? Is it really that much safer than doing your own thing? And what do you do if you really do lose your job at age 50? What then? Will you be able to find another job that will replace your six-figure salary? The odds are against you at that point in your life…
Doing My Own Thing
That?s why I decided, 20 years ago, to do my own thing. At the time, I figured that I had nothing to lose. I was 28 years old, single, with no kids. Instead of following my peers and working for a big-name multinational firm, I figured ?let?s try this Terraine idea out and see where it goes.?
Well, I?m still here doing my own thing today, even if that ?thing? has metamorphosed a few times along the way. The benefits? I have learned to learn, to adapt and change as times change.?I have learned that I can figure it out, survive, and even thrive later in life. I don?t fear the future. I don?t count the days before I retire. I look forward to continually learning and trying new things, to see what will stick and what won?t. And best of all, I never ever worry about getting laid off or being replaced by a younger and smarter person. It?s not even a thought in my mind, ever. For me, that kind of freedom is, in a word, priceless.
I?d argue that running your own business is far more secure — in the long run — than working for someone else. Key phrase here being ?…in the long run.??To get there, you have to make the decision to start by just starting. To decide to just get on that rollercoaster instead of the merry-go-round and realize that it will be a bumpy ride, with unexpected turns, movements, and surprises?and a whole lot of fun.