We live in an age where organizations have perfected the science of paying as little as they possibly can. A goal of most employers hasn’t been to provide a great quality of life for their employees for a long time. If they wanted to do this then defined benefit plans, automatic raises and employer paid education tied to internal career ladders wouldn’t have become a thing of the past. Even if the working world was perfect and every employee got a proportionate share of wealth and equity out of their organizations, economies can only afford to pay their workers as much as they can produce. There always seems to be additional needs in life. For example if you are a head of a family, and your kid is doing poorly in school, the idea of a tutor 4 days a week is fantastic, until you realize that a tutor is $25 to $50 an hour. That’s a bitter pill to swallow even for high wage earners.
It is for these reasons and many others that the phenomenon of a ‘side business’ has become such a big thing. There is a highly seductive element to the idea of ‘owning your own business’. The attraction of a owned business includes the dream of freedom from someone defining what you make, where you have to be, and what you have to do. It makes sense that if we are being so productive for our employers, as professionals we should be highly productive in our own private enterprises.
But there are some life traps we need to avoid. If you prescribe to the rule of 2.5 then you realize that there is very little bandwidth in our lives to do all the things we want to do. Work is no longer 40 hours per week. If you have a family, there goes another huge chunk of time. What’s left for your business or investment into your skill set is limited, very limited.
If you hear the siren call of financial and organizational independence, then the challenge is then is to figure out how to turn that .5 into a business.. And that’s where the trap part comes in. There are simply too many people out there who are willing and able to take advantage of your dreams, your hard work, and your effort to promote their own agendas. It’s the same science that’s used to squeeze every iota of productivity out of a workforce or a dealer channel, burn them out and move on to the next one.
There are countless prepackaged ‘business’ It’s also accelerated by all of the new and only really partially understood technologies. They range from multi level marketing companies, to franchise operations, to the bottom of the barrel, shyster thieves petaling ‘get rich on eBay’ internet business. The one thing they all have in common is that the pitch is perfect. They rarely tell you the truth.. That the market is saturated, the purses or makeup is well above the average retail cost, or that it takes years of effort to get to a part time income, or that it doesn’t really work.
Sometimes the negative impact is relatively small… a $100 starter kit and a few meetings worth of time. Sometimes the impact is much greater. Months or years of effort that lead to the lesson of this post which is to be very careful with your limited resources in time and effort. An even worse impact is a massive financial investment that takes years or decades to get out of. Don’t believe me, think about the ‘house flipping’ craze.
Yes, there are business in a box packages that can create an income. It’s just never as easy as they say. The old rule applies, if it sounds too good to be true, then it is.
Having a side business, especially for a professional is a real possibility. The key is that if it’s a side business you have to minimize your financial exposure and realize it will take years and years to really understand the business if you are not already an expert at it. If you do go the route of a prefab business then It’s more likely that you will get pinched by some sort of a trap because 99 times out of 100 it doesn’t really work.
LIFE TRAPS – Life trap posts are those seemingly little things in life that can turn into a big headache for the Professional. They exist all around us and should always be avoided if at all possible.