I finally made some money!
Secrets that nobody tells you about entrepreneurship
(And actually, I think this is applicable to every single person, because whether or not you work for a company, you are the sole proprietor of You, Inc.)
1. It's a blow to your ego to not receive a paycheck.
It took me all of 8 months since quitting my comfortable salary to make any money at all. And even then, it was negligible. I spent more than that amount at Target yesterday, if that tells you anything.
Butttt it was my first gig as an entrepreneur, and I'm FREAKIN PUMPED!!!
Actually, I have mixed emotions. If I'm being honest with you, I have to admit that the 8-month mark is kinda a blow to my confidence (read: vanity). I went from making a good salary with benefits (mind ye, miserable as can be) to making NO MONEY. The bigger blow to my self-confidence, as someone who isn't necessarily money-centric, is that for the last 8 months nobody has affirmed my talents by putting a monetary value to them! That was tougher than I imagined when I set out on this entrepreneurial journey. I'm such a people-oriented person, that I crave the affirmation that my boss approves of my work and my colleagues value my presence on the team. While I can't say I was really getting a lot of that at my old job, the fact that they continued to pay me was an indication that they appreciated me. A paycheck is the man way of affirming your value as an employee. (Note: I don't like this fact, but it is what it is.)
Now, I'm not telling you about my lack of affirmation because I need you to affirm my skills and talents, but rather because I want to help mentally prepare you in case you're thinking of becoming an entrepreneur or taking time off of work (to switch careers, find a new job in your same career, or go get training). Whether it's "logical" or not, it feels deflating to no longer have the affirmation of your value that is given through a paycheck, AND formal employee reviews, AND just general good vibes from your boss.
2. That blow to your ego can lead you to chase affirmation elsewhere...or it can lead you to God.
I'm not going to lie to you or pretend I've "broken free" from that desire to have a paycheck validate my talent, because getting paid last week felt really good. It was again affirmation to me. But I do want to point out that there is a difference between recognizing that affirmation and being entirely led by it.
As Christ-followers, we are all called to live for the glory of God, not the affirmation of people.
Living for the affirmation of people is why awful fashion trends happen. Anyone remember JNCO jeans? Or how about those super trendy Balenciaga Triple S sneakers? Lord, please save us!
Back to the point...
There's a world of difference between kindly receiving those little affirmations with gratitude and being led by them. If you're working to get approval of people (whether through a paycheck or some other form of affirmation), then you're placing your life in unsteady, uncommitted hands.
In Colossians 3:23, we're instructed: "Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men."
People will continue to pay you to do things that maybe aren't what God has called you to. And if you keep feasting off the affirmation of a paycheck, you're being led by money.
The alternative, and really the way we're called to live as Christ-followers, is to follow the Lord, even in our work-lives and career paths. We should firstly each learn to hear from the Lord what it is we should be doing, and then head out on the path to monetize.
Where we get it so wrong is the rat race that begins in high school, if not before.
You can practically hear parents bragging, "My kid goes to XYZ Prestigious Grade School and then will go to XYZ Prestigious High School so she can get into a really good college and get a really good job and a few years later buy a really good house and BMW so she can send her kids to XYZ Prestigious Grade School..." And the cycle perpetuates. The problem is that it leaves out one important detail... That kid is going to be shackled by debt beginning with going to a college she couldn't really afford except by astronomical student loans, and then have a giant house payment and 2 car payments, and then she's completely trapped in this expensive lifestyle that not only is a literal financial trap just waiting for the next market crash to impend doom on her, but also doesn't at all bring her any joy, because she never paused a moment to realize, "I actually don't want to go to college, I'd rather invest my time doing (fill in the blank)". But of course, no kid who constantly hears "I'm working 2 jobs for you" is going to tell that to her parents.
See, the pressure begins before we're even old enough to buy a beer, as does the mentality of racking up personal debt. So then you're not only chasing affirmation from your employer, but affirmation from your family that you are The Provider, and affirmation from the Joneses that you're Rich (probably house broke, but they don't know that), and affirmation from your friends that you're a Big Dog at a Big Company.
Chasing affirmation will never end in you happening to stumble on the career and life path that God has planned for you. Mayyybe God designed you to enjoy working in a corner office for some big corporation, but mayyybe He designed you to be an amazing artist. Will you ever know until you stop chasing affirmation from people and start pursuing a relationship with God? No! Because God designed you and walks with you everyday, we can know that He is the best leader, the best confidant, the best affirmer and the best encourager.
Seek Him, and He will be found. (See Jeremiah 29:13) Not only that, but everything you desire that you can't even put into words yet -- that will also be found, in His presence. (See Psalm 37:4)
3. Whoever pays you controls you.
Ugh...this is a tough point to hear, because we are all in denial. Whoever pays you controls you. When you were a kid and your parents paid for everything and you didn't want to clean your room, take out the trash, or eat your broccoli, what was mom's response?
"When you have your own house, you can run it however you wish."
"When you pay your bills, you can do whatever you like."
"When you buy your own food, you can eat what you want."
Russell and I were expounding this point last night during our supes romantic date. I know -- you're all so jealous. :P We concluded that whenever you're sold out to your employer, they own you. In a way, you're their slave. Yes, they pay you, but they also control you. They hold power over you.
You know that one annoying butt-kissing colleague of yours? ((eyeroll x 1000)) There's always that one person in every office that the boss can say "Jump!" to, and he says "How high?" rather than "why??" He's the Yes Man of the workplace. That boss owns that employee. If that employee really craves that promotion or bonus or future in a corner office of that company, he will do whatever his boss says. If that employee informs the boss that he's a lifetime "Company Man", the boss holds all the power.
The boss can tell him to lick the floor, and the employee will do it. That visual just really sticks with me!
What's my point? Whoever is paying you controls you.
As Christ-followers, we have Scripture to show where our paycheck is really sourced from.
Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone.
1 Chronicles 29:12
So while your employer is presently the pipeline by which God is providing you with income, God is the source of it. When your employer no longer pays you, God will continue to provide for your needs. That puts the balance of power back to where it should be: the Lord God. The One who tells you whether you should humble yourself and do the thing for your boss you don't want to do, or if you should quit because your skills are better used elsewhere. See, making God the Lord over your life isn't going to put the power into your own hands, but rather His. Whoever pays you controls you.
It's good to relinquish control to God. As Jesus said about our Heavenly Father:
Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!
Whether you are perfectly happy at your job, or you're desiring a different career, or you're wanting to become an entrepreneur, I hope you can see from this post how important it is to allow God to be the Lord of your worklife and career plans. It's not that we should live to earn God's affirmation, because we cannot do anything to earn it. God's love is a gift, and you already have it! But because He is the best person to lead us down the best path, we can happily relinquish control over our professional lives.
What does that look like for you?
Does it mean being more diligent to pray for the career you secretly hope for? Does it mean becoming comfortable with making less money because your joy comes from following the Lord, and not a paycheck? Does it mean having a better attitude about your job, because although tough for a season, God is leading you to do this holy work of being His love to your colleagues?
I can't answer that question, and neither can you. But God can. Ask Him, and He will lead you. Not only will life be richer, but your worklife will, too!
Photo credit for the main photo goes to Isabella Costello.