Monday, June 6, 2016

Unlimited vacations and other myths of the entrepreneurship life

If you have asked me a year ago, I'd tell you the (naive) ideas I had regarding the life of an entrepreneur, it's interesting because these days whenever I talk to my friends I can hear the same kind of thoughts, and I get it, you need to live it, or have someone very close to you living it to fully understand what it´s really like.

When you work for someone else, at an office environment (think Dilbert) it's easy to idealize that kind of life where you don't have to follow someone else's requests, you'd enjoy being the owner of your agenda and you'd avoid eating from Tupperware lunch boxes, and even when those are very factual scenarios we need to visualize the whole picture.

I decided to write a post about this last Thursday that I finally agreed (with myself) to release a couple of hours of my morning to go visit a Japanese garden (pictured in the title image) that I've been thinking about for a while and that is so crowded on weekends that I could only consider visiting on a weekday to make it a relaxing activity, it took me months to decide opening that space in my agenda and that is definitely not the general assumption on how someone that runs his own business behaves.

Following are 3 myths of the entrepreneurship life and the reality that I've found in my limited experience:

Myth # 1: No one tells you what to do

This one is partially true, because yes, you don't have that annoying person micromanaging your tasks or the boss pet that wants to know what you are doing to go and report it, you decide what to do, when to do it and most important: how, but there is a downside on not having someone else "directing" your actions, and it's that you are on your own, and you'll need to find a way to be extremely organized, to properly plan activities, to keep a strategical view to help you identify the important areas and to avoid getting lost in the day to day operative.

If you think about this it's not that bad to have some direction, specially when you have someone more experienced that you can rely on. In my case I decided that I didn't want to jeopardize my company's life by trying to guess everything by myself, specially on topics that are new, so I have enrolled in several courses and have been lucky enough to count with the support of friends that have been running their business for a while now.

Myth # 2: You have unlimited vacation days

This is a tricky one, because yes, you can take off ALL the days that you want, you can simply decide that you hate Mondays and avoid working until Tuesday, and you can take that plane to Rome and spend 3 weeks if you feel like doing it, the problem is that now you work for the worst boss ever: yourself, and as you are aware (I hope) of everything that is going on, you know the truth impact of not having support/not operating for a day.

I was reading an article about the client expectations in the social media era, it mentioned that today's customers expect to be answered no later than 24 hours after they contacted a company, and if this contact was done through facebook the time frame was reduced to just 4 hours, it also indicated that whenever you failed to satisfy your customer direct request you'd lose that client who would share this bitter experience with an average of 1,000 people.

With that in mind, let's think again about your days off and vacations, unless you have an excellent coverage plan and the certain that your days off are expected to be slow it's very difficult to think in just going away.

The other thing is that when you are starting you constantly feel that your bank account is on a diet, it gets skinnier everyday, and for those that requested loins to start it's even worst, so yes, you could take those days off, but you probably won't feel relieved to spend an amount of money that could be invested in your growing business.

Myth # 3: You define your agenda

When you work for someone else, you know that even when there is a fixed schedule of work (9-5?) you'll have to be flexible whenever there is a need for you to be earlier, stay beyond closing hours, work during nights or be available on weekends, in the same way you expect to have some flexibility for those days when you need to take care of urgent matters  at business hours.

In one of the training sessions I attended recently I listened a whole bunch of aspiring entrepreneurs talking about how their biggest trigger to start their business was to control their labor agenda: cut the amount of hours, wake up at noon, avoid weekend work and assure that they'll be able to have dinner with their families, an even when I can understand those needs, I'm not sure if they are suitable for a successful business.

Let's take last weekend as example, I had planned some activities for Friday that would keep me busy until 5 PM and then my weekend will start, but then something happened that delayed most of my tasks, the problem is that you still have a lot of dependencies, in my case I needed a supplier to provide some materials and get some samples ready for approval, I would take the material to supplier number 2 and will notify supplier number 3 about the samples details, all of this needed to be ready to start a production on Saturday and these dates have been agreed weeks before, to make this a short story, I had to work Friday night and almost all Saturday.

I could have chosen not to do it, and stick to my happy schedule, but the consequences of that delay in the production would have cost me an amount of money that I was not eager to cover and it also implied a big impact in someone else's calendar  so I needed to find solutions and in this case that meant working in a weekend.

The bottom line is that unless you design, produce, sell, and deliver by yourself your products or services you won't be able to get rid of dependencies, so you need to be able to adapt your plan whenever something happens, and even when you are the one defining your agenda, you'll have to make room for any unplanned urgency and even further, be ready with a plan b,c, d...z.

Not trying to scare anyone

That is definitely not the purpose of this post,  my point is that we must start our businesses because we are truly in love with a project and not because it seems that life will be easier or to escape from a job you hate.

Even with all the experiences told and my failed weekend I wouldn't change these days for anything in the world, and now that I'm on the other side I can tell you that I definitely envied how last Friday you were able to leave the office/ shut down your computer and just forget about work until Monday morning, there are cons and pros in every situation, maybe is not a bad idea to focus on the pros of our current status, you might realize that the grass is greener in your garden.

Hope that you have a good start of the week, I'd love to read your comments on this topic oh and by the way, I applied a re-design to the blog some  days ago and added some features as the "translate" function, a list of popular posts, etc and I finally was able to configure my domain, so now you can find me at:, if you have comments about the new design please let me know as well.



  1. Ya puedo ser parte de ese club!!! jejeje

    Me encanto el nuevo diseño de tu Blog :)

  2. Siii, bienvenida al club!
    Que padre que te gustó el nuevo diseño del blog =)

  3. Buenos consejos! y aunque nadie tiene el éxito asegurado, siempre esta esa satisfacción de haberlo intentado por lo menos. Mucho Éxito.


    1. Muchas gracias por los buenos deseos Lalo, como dices, independientemente de lo demás queda la satisfacción de no quedarse con las ganas =)
      Un abrazote

  4. Excelente enfoque, de uno y otro lado, como dices los dos tienen sus lados buenos y malos y hay que disfrutarlos y enfrentarlos... me encanta el nuevo diseño, la madera se ve genial!!
    Saluditos :)

    1. Si Perlita, siempre es bueno tomarse un segundo para darse cuenta de todas las cosas buenas, las malas generalmente se hacen presentes solitas ja.
      Que bueno que te gustó el nuevo diseño =)