By Jeffrey I. Shavitz
When it comes to finding a great opportunity for advancement and growth, owning a business is the whole enchilada. It's the goal. It can help make your dreams of living on your own terms a reality. It's what draws many people to the payments industry.
However, some opportunities in the industry may be more like jobs than real business opportunities. There's nothing wrong with a job. Many people are perfectly happy with a business that runs at that level. Most, however, are looking for just about anything but a job.
A typical day for an entrepreneur is essentially impossible to nail down. The typical day for an employee is much easier to map out in detail. It's so much simpler that it can quickly feel routine and dull.
I have friends who work the 9-to-5 day who describe their typical day as follows:
Of course, I'm being facetious here, but I don't think the source of this satire, at its core, is that far from the truth. Employees work for companies, and they get their salaries as long as they work at an expected pace and spend a predetermined length of time doing it. If this is OK with you, but you'd like to call your own shots, you might do well building a business that, ultimately, is a job.
A real business, on the other hand, requires that entrepreneurs earn their money every day. Everything they do has to pay the freight, cover the bills, and – hopefully – leave some money for the CEO to take home and live on.
This concept of earning the money every step of the way starts over again every month. Then over again. Year after year, for better or worse.
A job generally means you're out the door at 5 p.m. or whenever quitting time actually might be. Your work is done for the day. Building a business means your brain never stops working – even when you're trying not to work. You're always thinking of ways to improve things and sell more, keeping an eye out for new opportunities. You have to use a mental approach to your future and think big in a different way than most people working in jobs do.
In sports, golfers and tennis players must earn their weekly income by winning tournaments. If they don't make the cut, they don't get paid for that particular effort. This type of payment scheme is more entrepreneurial than, say, athletes who play team sports such as basketball and football. Those sports are more corporate in many ways. The athletes are guaranteed a salary. They're part of a team environment. But, of course, they must produce ‒ on and off the field ‒ to continue to earn their pay.
Many people believe you must like the industry your business is in. I find that to be a crazy statement. A lot of people really like sports or music or the entertainment industry. However, how many people actually get to work in these industries? Not many, that's for sure ‒ and most are employees who don't make anywhere near the kind of money people think of when imagining the glamour these industries hold.
My wife, Jill, had a corporate job with the NBA after graduating from college. She didn't play for one of the teams, but she did work just as hard to make her way up through the corporate ladder. Her final position was Director of Marketing. I love Jill for all her great qualities, but it sure didn't hurt having the opportunity to attend lots of basketball games, the Olympics, and other perks her position afforded us.
Although to an outsider her job sounded amazing with all the sports benefits that went with it, work is still work. As she likes to say, "Yes, it was fun attending many New York Knicks basketball games, but it's a very different experience going to those games with friends and family from entertaining clients and having to be 'on' the entire evening."
If you don't absolutely love payments, don't worry. You can still succeed as an entrepreneur in this space. It's best if you have a love for the product or service you're offering, but it's not critical to success. You do, however, need to be in love with the idea of doing things for yourself, controlling your future, and taking pride in your efforts ‒ enough so that you're more than willing to build the vehicle that will take you there.
Assessing what it is that determines success for you is something you'll find yourself doing a lot as an entrepreneur. That's why you want to fully understand how you tick before you decide whether to stick with your current endeavors in payments, pursue a promising opportunity offered by a colleague or launch an entirely new payments enterprise of your own.
Owning a business is great, when it works ‒ and totally awful when it doesn't. That's the life of an entrepreneur. Stick around.
Jeffrey I. Shavitz is Chief Executive Officer of TrafficJamming LLC, which is a virtual business group for entrepreneurs and small business owners to help grow a company's sales (traffic = customers in his language). His experience in payments includes co-founding Charge Card Systems Inc., which was sold to Card Connect in 2012; Alternative Merchant Processing, dedicated to high-risk merchant processing; and Charge Card Funding, involved in the cash advance space. Jeff has published four books: Size Doesn't Matter — Why Small Business is Big Business, which became an Amazon No. 1 top release in both the business and entrepreneur categories; Small Business Aha Messages; The Power of Residual Income – You Can Bank on It!, and Networking – Get Connected. He can be contacted at 800-878-4100 or firstname.lastname@example.org; his websites are www.jeffshavitz.com and www.trafficjamming.com.
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