I’ve written previously about entrepreneurship and while I salute anyone who walks this path, it’s not for everyone.
Entrepreneurial spirit can drive an individual as it can drive a business. Over the past 24 years, I’ve been both self-employed and a business owner. Working towards the goal of business ownership and scale with unrelenting enthusiasm, is part of the makeup of an entrepreneur. Being self-employed is only a temporary situation, right?
Not everyone feels the same way or wants to start a business (thank goodness) and while today the cult of the entrepreneur is “trendy” it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be.
I’m not sure if I would want my children to be entrepreneurs and business owners. My mum always wondered whether she had blessed or cursed her kids with the entrepreneurial drive and I didn’t understand this until I had children of my own.
For me, there is no choice. I love starting and building businesses and I can do little to change that even if I wanted to. I’m always looking to scale and this drives me every day of my life.
There is no “balance” and I’m happy with this. However, I think for other people there is a middle ground.
Let me explain…
Why living with an entrepreneur can be hell…
Tonight it’s 2:30 am in Sydney and I am writing an article because my brain doesn’t want to stop and I would rather be at work than asleep. I finished with my team a couple of hours ago and sent them off to bed because I thankfully have the emotional intelligence to recognise not everyone is 24/7 and I acknowledge that I’m exhausting to be around when I’m on a mission.
My wife Charlotte who is my greatest advocate and has the patience of a saint would be the first to tell you that being married to an entrepreneur is no a walk in the park.
I have no real hobbies to speak of, other than building the business, an unrelenting commitment to “push” every day and I am a bear with a sore head when I’m frustrated that things aren’t moving fast enough. If I’m not busy and productive, the fallout is hard to deal with and much of this lands on her.
She puts up with a lot, including a husband who would rather be working than taking a weekend off and spending it with her or the kids. Not because I don’t love her or them, but because the mission to build an unassailable financial fortress and help others navigate the same path drives me.
This doesn’t make me an easy companion to live with. I’m impatient, irascible and have impossible standards which are traits that are often the hallmark of the entrepreneur.
If this isn’t enough, I will throw our whole house into chaos and invite people around at any hour of the day or night because I’ve found them interesting or am doing business with them. Plans made, schedules booked will be thrown into disarray because I’m in the “zone” and following a train of thought I find interesting. Evening calls in Hong Kong and Singapore and then 3 am conference calls in London are things my poor wife has to endure most nights of the week. I live in my own time zone where what I’m doing dictates my sleep and engagement with what’s happening in New Zealand.
Most of my team doesn’t actually know what I am working on day to day. It would be hard to keep up with. The day of the week or the hour of the day are irrelevant to me.
I’ve had Kristen our Development & Construction Director stay with us for the past week while he moves into his new home and I think he has been shocked by just how unrelenting I am. There is literally nothing I enjoy more than building the business and sharing that experience with the most incredible team. Just be prepared for a 4 am email if you work with me or the 10 pm phone call.
As a friend, I’m also hard work! My long-suffering friends know I will walk over broken glass for them and support from me is more than just a word. It’s an unswerving commitment! However... if you want to catch up, it has to be on my terms. It’s not that I’m just busy, it’s that holding my attention for a period of time is difficult. Guests in my house have my wonderful wife to thank for our hospitality because I am liable to sneak off and build a new financial model for a project I’m working on during the middle of the day. Or I will take a call during dinner from a financier in New York and miss half of the meal. I’m all in and I’m full on!
The only thing that slows me down a little is that I enjoy time with my children where I am able to just be in the moment with them. Having said this, it tends to be on my terms and I rely on Charlotte to tell me when my attention needs to be on the family.
Practical things pass me by and without a team around me to take care of the necessities of life at home, all the kids would sleep in my bed, we would go to school when we felt like it, midnight feasts and wild and improbable adventures would be a feature of our lives. Last week I drew a treasure map with my four-year-old Dax. I am perfectly mad enough to dig up the Auckland Domain in the middle of the night to bury treasure with him and create a map so he can find his way back.
If you’re married to an entrepreneur you will know it without needing to be told. Your life will be in part exciting, however, a large part of it will feel as though you are trying to tame a hurricane.
Thankfully the woman I married knows that the best way to harness the wind is to hoist the sails, unfurl the spinnaker and let the wind fill the canvas until the rigging creaks as we sail towards uncharted water.