As a kid, I dreamed of being an entrepreneur. I had this dream because I desired freedom. (Little did I know that’s not exactly how it works as an entrepreneur, is it?)
Like so many other entrepreneurs, I was very poor growing up. My mom and dad were divorced, and my mom supported my little sister and me on a civil servant’s salary and $300 per month from my dad.
We lived in the ghetto, with a swamp cooler in the kitchen to cool the whole house. Our slumlord didn’t fix anything. A spot on the floor of our kitchen rotted out, becoming a gaping hole. For years, the only repair was a nailed-down piece of plywood. I can’t count how many times I stubbed my toe or tripped on that plywood.
Adding insult to injury
When I got a bit older, I moved in with my dad and his wife -- my wicked stepmother -- who mentally abused us kids for sport. She’d routinely tell me how fat or dumb I was and call me names.
Heaven forbid my dad went out of town, which he often did. When that happened, I’d be stuck working as her slave for hours each weekend, cleaning part of the house only to be told to reclean it, again and again, because it wasn’t good enough. Because I wasn’t good enough.
I dreamed of being an entrepreneur and the freedom of riches. I dreamed of the vacations I’d take and the cars I’d drive. I dreamed of the empire I’d build and how, one day, I’d change the world.
But there are things I never dreamed of. I never dreamed of making $150,000 per year and owning a lifestyle business. I never dreamed of retirement.
Working is living the dream
I have a ton of friends who are entrepreneurs, and a surprising thing is I can’t recall a single one telling me their dream is to stay home all day and not work. I’m sure there are people out there who have that dream, but my suspicion is that, even for those people, if we go back to the first time they dreamed of being an entrepreneur, that is not how the dream started.
So, all of that begs the question: Why do we settle? Why do we give up on our dreams? I think the answer is simple: We get beat down, even abused.
Have you ever been abused or taken advantage of by an employee or customer? I have, as recently as this week. Have you ever had a good idea that you felt the marketplace would love to have, only to struggle to sell your product or service?
The stress and pressure we are under is immense. I’ve watched smart and ambitious people change their dreams and decide they want to be a lifestyle entrepreneur, simply because they want to escape the stress, or because they find out their chosen business isn’t a Porsche but a Ford Taurus, instead.
The company people really want is a company that is growing. But instead of figuring out how to go from a million dollars in sales to 10 million dollars in sales, many give up on their dream.
Live or let it die
Have you ever given up on a dream? You constantly hear about lifestyle businesses on the internet, and if that is truly what you want, go get it. But if you want a lifestyle business because you are throwing in the towel, we need to talk. I’m not trying to retire at 38. I’ve come here to build something, to create generational wealth and to win.
We were created to work, to grow, and to build. We live in a time when infinite knowledge is available to us to solve most of what ails us, which is both a blessing and a curse. The blessings of the information are obvious, but the curse can overwhelm them.
So many people are paralyzed with the number of choices they have that they end up doing nothing. Now, add in the data that's at everyone’s fingertips, bearing in mind it may either paint only part of the picture or be massaged by someone with an agenda. Thus can you end up with smart people making bad choices.
I know this is a bit different from other analyses, but recently, I have just seen too many people throw in the towel. Too many smart and talented entrepreneurs talk to me about how they don’t want to keep growing, how they are settling or even giving up. It is not okay with me.
We need these smart people. We need entrepreneurs to keep the economy thriving, to build and grow their companies. We need them to step up in the community and help support worthy causes. Five percent of the world’s population are entrepreneurs, and without us growing and thriving, the entire civilized world disappears. No pressure.
Beating the drum
I, for one, am committed to growing, and I’m committed to helping you grow by providing no BS info about what it really takes to grow a successful business.
I will continue to beat the drum of building a solid business foundation that focuses on your customers and referrals first, because this is the least risky and ultimately most profitable way to have a successful business.
You can grow, you can have the dream, you can make a difference, and you can touch more lives than most can even imagine. The only question is, are you up for the challenge?
This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors