Life as an entrepreneur has its ups and downs. One day you’re making hay, the next day you’re shoveling manure. Here are some options.
“Time is up, I need a job”
This is the stark reality that many entrepreneurs often face.
This is the reality that I face today.
It’s not that earth-shattering of a confession really. After all, depending on which statics you read, somewhere between 70 – 90% of entrepreneurs fail.
But, what if you’re not failing? What if you’re just not succeeding enough to keep going?
That’s the position that I’m in, and one that many entrepreneurs find themselves in.
What you’re building isn’t yet fundable, or hasn’t driven enough sales. You’ve maxed out your credit cards and you’ve drained your savings.
You have responsibilities, which in my case means a family to support, a home to maintain and a future to consider.
It’s a hard reality to face and one every entrepreneur hopes to never encounter.
Regardless, here I am. And, like any entrepreneur in my position, you do what you have to do to survive and be able to fight another day.
But, what exactly does that mean?
It’s a question I’m now facing and exploring.
If you’re a programmer or designer, it’s easy enough to pick up a few side projects which can be very lucrative. In fact, many find the variety of this path interesting enough to make it their full-time focus.
What about non-technical entrepreneurs? The ones that tend to get the assumptive title of “jack of all trades, master of nothing.”
While that title can sometimes be true, often times non-technical entrepreneurs have a specific area of expertise which is just as marketable and desirable as a designer or developer. In my case, that’s marketing and growth.
So, what are the options:
Get a full-time job
It may seem like the obvious choice, but, for a couple of reasons, many entrepreneurs are hesitant to take this big of a leap. First, it feels permanent, as in they feel it will be the end of the entrepreneurial journey. And second, if there is any interest in continuing your current business, it will be drastically more difficult.
On the plus side, taking a break from your ventures and offering your specific skill without the additional distractions, can be both refreshing and extremely beneficial for both you and your employer.
Entrepreneurial-minded employees are often-times some of the most ambitious people on a team. You just need to allow yourself to be dedicated.
Consult or pick up contract work
There will always be companies that are looking for a fling. A short-term arrangement between you and a company without the commitment of a fully-committed marriage.
Depending on your specific expertise, these arrangements can either be project specific or time-based.
In my case, I’ve been brought into companies to help them build a marketing team as a consultant. But, I’ve also been contracted by companies to help with tactical implementation to generate press, build communities and drive new customers.
Figure out a way to package your expertise and start making it available.
Find flexible sources of income
The on-demand economy we find ourselves in is ripe with opportunities for people who need to pick up extra income, while continuing to pursue their passion.
Uber, Instacart, Lyft, TaskRabbit … there are a ton of companies popping up that are offering flexible and independent employment.
On a recent trip to Atlanta, I took an early morning Uber ride to the airport. In speaking with my driver, he mentioned that he was a morning person (which I had already gathered on my own) and decided to be an Uber driver because his clients were never up as early as him.
He was a full-time real estate agent and found Uber to be, not only a way to make extra money, but also a great way to network with potential clients.
His last five real estate clients started out as passengers in his car.
Personally, I’ve followed more traditional sources, such as writing and speaking, which are also options to drive additional income.
Become an Entrepreneur-in-Residence
If you’re not familiar with the role, an Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) is someone that is temporally hired by a venture capital firm to simultaneously help provide guidance and expertise to investments while also continuing to work on their business.
Often times, the VC firm will have the first rights to invest in the company that the EIR is building.
This can be an ideal situation for an entrepreneur, but the opportunities are not easy to come by.
Usually speaking, the VC firm will bring on someone they’ve had prior experience with or come with a strong recommendation.
Utilize your network
If you find yourself in a similar position to mine, one of the best things you can do is to call on your network. While it might feel embarrassing (it does for me), there is no shame in asking for help.
EVERY entrepreneur goes through highs and lows.
You never know what will come from asking until you … ask.
These are the options I face today as an entrepreneur, as I suspect many others face as well.
To be honest, I’m not sure where I’ll end up, which is both frightening and exciting at the same time.