What follows is some great business advice – even though it’s not really about business per se. Read it and ponder what it says.
A fan sent a letter to Mike Rowe (of the popular TV show “Dirty Jobs”). The fan was asking for some advice and I think Mike’s response is particularly appropriate for entrepreneurs who are trying to decide on starting a business.
I’ve spent this last year trying to figure out the right career for myself and I still can’t figure out what to do. I have always been a hands on kind of guy and a go-getter. I could never be an office worker. I need change, excitement, and adventure in my life, but where the pay is steady. I grew up in construction and my first job was a restoration project. I love everything outdoors. I play music for extra money. I like trying pretty much everything, but get bored very easily. I want a career that will always keep me happy, but can allow me to have a family and get some time to travel. I figure if anyone knows jobs its you so I was wondering your thoughts on this if you ever get the time! Thank you! – Parker Hall
Here is Mike Rowe’s response:
My first thought is that you should learn to weld and move to North Dakota. The opportunities are enormous, and as a “hands-on go-getter,” you’re qualified for the work. But after reading your post a second time, it occurs to me that your qualifications are not the reason you can’t find the career you want.
I had drinks last night with a woman I know. Let’s call her Claire. Claire just turned 42. She’s cute, smart, and successful. She’s frustrated though, because she can’t find a man. I listened all evening about how difficult her search has been. About how all the “good ones” were taken. About how her other friends had found their soul-mates, and how it wasn’t fair that she had not.
“Look at me,” she said. “I take care of myself. I’ve put myself out there. Why is this so hard?”
“How about that guy at the end of the bar,” I said. “He keeps looking at you.”
“Not my type.”
“Really? How do you know?”
“I just know.”
“Have you tried a dating site?” I asked.
“Are you kidding? I would never date someone I met online!”
“Alright. How about a change of scene? Your company has offices all over – maybe try living in another city?”
“What? Leave San Francisco? Never!”
“How about the other side of town? You know, mix it up a little. Visit different places. New museums, new bars, new theaters . . .?”
She looked at me like I had two heads. “Why the hell would I do that?”
Here’s the thing, Parker. Claire doesn’t really want a man. She wants the “right” man. She wants a soul-mate. Specifically, a soul-mate from her zip code. She assembled this guy in her mind years ago, and now, dammit, she’s tired of waiting!
I didn’t tell her this, because Claire has the capacity for sudden violence. But it’s true. She complains about being alone, even though her rules have more or less guaranteed she’ll stay that way. She has built a wall between herself and her goal. A wall made of conditions and expectations. Is it possible that you’ve built a similar wall?
Consider your own words. You don’t want a career – you want the “right” career. You need “excitement” and “adventure,” but not at the expense of stability. You want lots of “change” and the “freedom to travel,” but you need the certainty of “steady pay.” You talk about being “easily bored” as though boredom is out of your control. It isn’t.
Boredom is a choice. Like tardiness. Or interrupting. It’s one thing to “love the outdoors,” but you take it a step further. You vow to “never” take an office job. You talk about the needs of your family, even though that family doesn’t exist. And finally, you say the career you describe must “always” make you “happy.”
These are my thoughts. You may choose to ignore them and I wouldn’t blame you – especially after being compared to a 42 year old woman who can’t find love. But since you asked …
Stop looking for the “right” career, and start looking for a job. Any job. Forget about what you like. Focus on what’s available. Get yourself hired. Show up early. Stay late.
Volunteer for the scut work. Become indispensable. You can always quit later, and be no worse off than you are today. But don’t waste another year looking for a career that doesn’t exist. And most of all, stop worrying about your happiness. Happiness does not come from a job. It comes from knowing what you truly value, and behaving in a way that’s consistent with those beliefs.
Many people today resent the suggestion that they’re in charge of the way they feel. But trust me, Parker. Those people are mistaken. That was a big lesson from Dirty Jobs, and I learned it several hundred times before it stuck. What you do, who you’re with, and how you feel about the world around you, is completely up to you.
Good luck –
PS. I’m serious about welding and North Dakota. Those guys are writing their own ticket.
PPS. Think I should forward this to Claire?
[Source: from https://www.facebook.com/TheRealMikeRowe]
So here’s the lesson I think we can apply to entrepreneurs trying to start an online business:
- You’re probably wasting your time trying to come up with the one perfect magical business idea that is just right for you.
- Sometimes we’re so deep in the forest, we can’t see beyond the trees. Occasional “reality checks” can lift our perspective.
- You’re dreams and expectations about being a business owner and how happy that will make you feel are probably not realistic.
- Don’t waste any more time hesitating to start your business because you’re just not 100% sure about everything you’re doing.
- Sometimes it’s best to take a “pretty good” idea, although it’s not perfect, and get your hands dirty with it and learn as you go.
- Usually successful outcomes happen as a result of preparation and hard work toward a goal. Don’t expect to bypass the “grunt work.”
- There are lots of things about being a business owner that you won’t like; but someone will have to do them if you are to be successful … so plan on doing things you don’t necessarily like, or hiring them out to others at a price.
- For most of us, Prince Charming isn’t going to ask if we would like to go to the ball. Grab the guy or girl next door, make the best of it, and enjoy the dance.
- Showing up for business is half the battle. Roll up your sleeves, immerse yourself, don’t be afraid to fail, and learn from your mistakes.
- As difficult as it sometimes is to admit, we really do control our own destiny as a business owner. Many of us will fail because we believe otherwise.
- You are the business. Yes, you sell products, services, content, advertising, and other things … but when you are a solo business owner your business is a total reflection of you and your habits, morals, personality, core beliefs, view of the world, life experience … well, you get the point. I hope.
- Your business is not the be all, end all, or your existence. As important as it can be to the owner, businesses sometimes fail or never even get off the ground. Life goes on and so will you. Start another different business or earn your income in other ways!
I wish you all the online business success in the world! It’s totally up to you.