This is a guest post written by Kirby Hasseman, President of Hasseman Marketing. In addition to his responsibilities as a distributor, Kirby is an author, blogger and podcaster. Please find his content here. Kirby is also a two time speaker at skucon and you can find him on commonsku, LinkedIn, Twitte
I still remember the day. It was in March 21, 2005.
We were early in the life of Hasseman Marketing and times were really tight. I had made the jump to being an entrepreneur with the promise to my wife that “everything would be ok.” It was a risk, of course. But I would be able to make it work…and succeed.
Now we were sitting at the kitchen table having a terse conversation about money. Essentially the conversation was simple…we didn’t have any. I remember it was in March because of what happened next.
I got a call from a buddy that wanted to me to be involved in the March Madness pool. Everyone threw in “a few bucks” with the chance to win. “It’s not a huge amount,” he said. “Just enough to make it interesting. So $100. You in?”
“Uh, yes,” I said, and hung up the phone. I was too embarrassed to tell my friend I could not really afford it. My normally mild-mannered wife was not amused.
“We don’t have $100 for something like this right now!” she said. And she was right.
At that point my oldest daughter (who was probably 10 at the time) spoke up. “It’s okay Mommy. Daddy is good at basketball. He could win!” To this day, thinking of my innocent daughter and her faith in me (even if she did not understand that I was not the one playing) is both humbling and heart-breaking.
I had to leave the table so they would not see me cry.
That was one of my worst days an entrepreneur. It was one I really don’t want to repeat. So what did I learn from it? It turns out, a lot. Here are a few things that still resonate with me to this day.
There are Seasons. This was early on in the business and each high was the best and each low was the worst. What I have learned is that momentum (and cash flow) goes up and down. If I keep working hard and doing the right things, the pendulum will swing back. Just like this time, sometimes I need to ride out the tough times…and they will get better.
Watch the Cash. This is one I still struggle with. We all need to work as hard as we can to watch the money. When we lose sight of the cash, we lose sight of the business. Sometimes I need to remind myself that a strong business is worth more that “looking” like a strong business.
Be Willing to be Vulnerable. I really needed to just say “no” to my friend. I know now that he would have understood. You don’t need to share all your problems with the world. But in those times when you are struggling, there are a few people that would be glad to listen…and help.
You Are Not The Only One. When things are tough as an entrepreneur, you can feel very alone. It’s important to know that you are not. Other people are going through something similar. Keep hustling. It will get better.
One of my favorite things I read about entrepreneurship (I don’t remember where) said that an entrepreneur is like a guy riding a giant lion. Everyone around is looking and saying “Wow! Look at that amazing guy riding the lion!” They are all impressed. At the same time, the guy is thinking, “How in the hell did I get on this lion? And how do I get off without getting eaten?”
There will be tough days when you are an entrepreneur…that’s for sure. But if you are like me, you would not want it any other way!