[“Time To Make The Donuts”. Famous Dunkin’ Donuts campaign from 1984.]
I was talking to a very successful New Yorker friend of mine, a finance guy, about why he never went into the restaurant business, in spite of his family connections with it.
“Uuuugh, No thanks,” he said. “Look, with a restaurant, you have three basic scenarios.”
He went on:
1. Let’s say you open a restaurant and business never takes off. Congratulations! You’ve now lost all your money and have spent the last three years of your life watching your life’s work go down the drain.
2. Let’s say your restaurant is really successful. Congratulations! You’ve now got 7 days-a-week, 18 hours a day of high stress craziness, dealing with all those pushy customers, the neurotic waiters and the psycho kitchen staff.
3. Let’s say your business is just so-so. Neither a hit, nor a disaster. Congratulations! You’ve now got the worst of both worlds. All the stress and the hours, none of the money or glory. Woo-hoo!
Hmmm…. Listening to my friend, it kinda sounds like all the businesses of pretty much every self-employed person I know these days.
See “Fred The Baker” in the video above? That’s pretty much all their lives, right now. And mine. “Time to make the donuts”. No wonder I find it the ad so funny.
Would my friends have it any other way? Of course not. But if you want to be successful, that’s the life you must choose, for better or worse. So it goes.
first, i’m a long-time reader, first time commenter(g).
I’ve been self-employed for decades and, in my experience, the only way to get rich is to get paid for _not_ showing up to work.
IOW, whatever the business model, it must scale beyond yourself. for example, “Fred the Baker” needed more than one of himself. all he needed was “one of himselves” to start lounging on at home (see the movie “Multiplicity” for details).
You, for example, can “scale beyond yourself” via your artwork.
Agreed, Mike. I got into this business for a reason. It allows me to scale while still operating a small business- the latter being something I’m more suited for than the alternatives 😉
Depends on how one defines success. I would assert if one is not generally enjoying the overall journey of life, then that person is not really living successfully, regardless of the other measurements of success a person may use – gotta try and simplify a little bit. Without enjoyment, most success results ultimately in not much more than stroking one’s own ego – think Donald Trump. By the way, thanks for this blog, Hugh; I’ve been a regular reader for several months now, as it helps inspire and encourage me and helping me enjoy the journey in the process.
Hey Sean, I love what I do (and I think it mostly shows), but I feel a lot like Fred, more often than I would care to admit. I think we all do.
Anything worth doing comes with a price, sometimes a heavy one. Luckily I’ve reconciled that to myself YEARS ago…
P.S. Though I agree there are many definitions of success (I believe you can be just as successful running a mom n’ pop pizza joint, as running a 2,000 employee tech company), the older I get, the less convinced I am by the argument, “I wanted to be an idle slacker, I succeeded at that, therefore I am successful.”
I have to agree with Sean. There are people who thrive on high-stress craziness. If they make money dealing with it, they’re successful. I’d be unhappy.
There are paths other than fast-lane entrepreneur and idle slacker. 🙂
Hi, Hugh. Pleasure to comment here.
I also think there’s an alternative to it. A business where you architecture it with systems and processes in order to remove yourself from it.
I think that’s the difference between a high-earner self-employed person to a real business.
Thanks for bringing up such conversation. Keep rocking, my friend.
It is one of those commercials that stay hidden in the back of your mind. Then when you have one of those crazy days it shows back up and makes you laugh.
So, how do you know when it is indeed time to make the donuts? 🙂