Among the many life decisions I have made, the one I took this weekend has to be the hardest one ever. After nine years of constant struggle, frustration, and restlessness, I quit entrepreneurship for good. It’s been one heck of a ride. And as I write this, I must say — I don’t feel anything at all. No regrets. No remorse.
Building my own business was something I have always aspired to do. It started as a tiny consulting business that stayed small because I got bored running it full-time the first year. And since then, I’ve tried to run it as a side-hustle. The business wasn’t generating any revenue, at least not enough to support any significant aspects of my life. Heck, it’s been in the red since the first year and never quite recovered.
The ratio of expenses versus income was just out of whack! All the advertising, subscription, and time was way out of proportion compared to the minuscule revenue I generated over the years. Having a full-time job also meant that I wouldn’t aggressively market my services as a regular business. And there’s only so much you can do with mounting work and family responsibilities.
It sucks to hang up your boots when things look hopeful, but as you know, hope isn’t a strategy. I don’t think I was cut out for running a business. At least not one could be run on the side as a freelancer or an entrepreneur. Given my existing workplace responsibilities, which include growing the company, I am carving out additional time for something just as consuming was always a challenge.
The writing was on the wall, but I refused to see it. The ego got in the way. I loved how I felt calling myself a coach and a consultant. I loved how I felt having helped clients who wanted the best from me but failed to pay me promptly. And I especially loved how I felt delivering those powerful workshops to a bunch of people who would show up and rave about it, only because it was free.
Little did I realize that I was wasting precious time and energy getting my ego stroked. And I must confess, I might have spent tens of thousands of dollars “educating” myself or “investing” in myself for the sake of getting certified building relationships and connections. All of that has brought me nothing. Zero. Zilch.
Not having a side-hustle is uncool these days, but ignoring reality won’t get you far. I sure didn’t help me in any way, except I lost nine precious years and a boatload of money trying to earn something “on the side.” That additional income stream always sounds and feels so incredible until it isn’t.
My decision also means that I will be shutting down my company, memberships with coaching associations, and other affiliates. I’m also dropping out of my masters’ degree program in organizational psychology. My heart’s not in it right now, and I would focus on something that I enjoy reading and studying. Also, I’m burned out with all the self, team, and organizational improvement stuff.
For the foreseeable future, I will be focusing on innovating and growing the company that employs me, something that I have enjoyed doing for the past nine years. My responsibilities will keep me gainfully busy for quite some time, but that feeling of working without the additional pressure of building yet another business is freeing.
Perhaps, I have always been an intrapreneur, you know, someone with entrepreneurial tendencies but who works for someone else as I’m sure my peers, colleagues, and career track record would validate. And history is full of examples of intrapreneurs having risen to the top ranks of companies owing to their innovation and leadership skills. I find that goal way more aspirational than building my own business as an entrepreneur or freelancer.
All that said, I will stay committed to the following projects:
- Podcast — This Might Not Work
- Book — Work in progress; I’ve just kick-started the research phase. The book will be about strategic leadership based on my experience as a leader, a failed entrepreneur, and a student of leadership.
And I won’t actively pursue coaching and consulting assignments; I will remain open to any opportunities that may come my way. Since I’m shutting down my company, I might have to register myself as a sole-proprietor, but that’s for another day.
Right now, I’m just enjoying this newfound freedom after having dragged a dead horse for far too long. Seth Godin once mentioned the “sunk cost fallacy.” I guess I have had it all these years and didn’t realize it. That said, it’s never too late for starting afresh. And right now seems like the best time.