Hello everybody, welcome to episode 134 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino and today we’ve got a pretty intense question on feeling lost as an entrepreneur. This question is very long, but very involved and contains a lot of important information for answering the question in full. In essence, we’re going to be talking about how to balance our lives when, simply put, there’s just too much going on. Stay with me during the question as we look to help this viewer in her time of need…
QUESTION: “My fiancé and I have been struggling a lot lately with balancing career endeavors and deciding where to direct our lives. First, my fiancé and I work as apartment managers. We help tenants solve problems and manage the leasing of vacancies in exchange for free rent + $6k/year. In Los Angeles, free rent is a big deal. We also manage an additional building, and the building owners are fabulous and that building is less time-consuming and much easier to manage.
Next, we own a direct-to-consumer apparel brand. We are currently making very little money on this, but we foresee a bright future. Plus, it can be a lot of fun to run and we enjoy all aspects of the business.
Then, we both own a custom apparel business. While less fun than the apparel brand, we can foresee this business being my fiancé’s income in the next 3-4 years. My fiance is currently laid off and is now pouring most of his attention into the custom apparel business.
For my income, I work with clients to help them start and grow their own businesses. I absolutely love helping clients, and I’m very happy with how flexible my schedule is because I work for myself.
Our overall household income is only around $50,000 with each of us spending 40-50 hours/week, so it can feel defeating to work so hard yet earn so little. We both value freedom, travel, and family, so our current lifestyle does support all and is probably the reason why we’ve been able to hang in there for so long.
Our dream is to own our own home in Los Angeles, but our income most likely won’t allow enough mortgage to be able to purchase a house. To make things even more tangled, we will be getting married in under a year want to start our family soon after. The thought of children in this sounds impossible, but I’m 29 and know that the clock is ticking. I feel overwhelmed and tired, and I’m not sure where we can refine, delegate, and scrap in order to accomplish our dreams.
Take A Look Around
I absolutely love the sign off name. It’s about time one of you ended your questions like this – get with it, everyone. Ahem…
I, too, am feeling very disoriented just from hearing this question, and I can only assume many of the listeners are, as well. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for you – how truly disoriented, overwhelmed and tired you must be – trying to live it.
Yes, to me, it seems like you’re trying to do way, way too much here. I lived in LA for a while and I know the temptation there is to do everything and believe in a life of no limits. It’s pretty well hardwired into the culture of the creatives and entrepreneurs that make for the city’s identity.
That being said, I encourage you to look around at those hustling the way that you are and take some inventory.
The Spectrum of Success
You might end up having a different experience than I did when taking a hard look at the results of those around me who were trying to hustle non-stop, but from what I saw, it rarely ever equated to the whole spectrum of success that all the pursuers were seeking.
The vast majority of those who would succeed in making far more than $50k inevitably suffered from having no time to themselves and no sense of peace. Those who did not reach that financial landmark always thought that the more money they were able to gain from their ventures, the more likely they’d be to have that peace.
It’s very hard to win this game without financial or mental exhaustion (or both). It’s not impossible, but it’s much harder than it’s even given credit for, in my opinion.
Stop Spreading Yourself So Thin
Looking through your question, I’m counting 4 sources of income for your fiancé and 5 for you. That’s 9 total between 2 people, spread across 80-100 hours a week totaling 50k. It’s a complete gridlock. Something has to be eliminated.
Sure, all of these pursuits may have the potential to grow in different degrees, but the thing is, they aren’t being given the chance to, nor will they be given that chance because you don’t have enough extra time to dedicate to them.
It’s okay to max out. It’s easy to do it when we’re excited, smart, and have belief in ourselves – three qualities which you possess.
But the people that max out and end up living the most balanced lives are the ones that eventually recalibrate and stop spreading themselves so thin. Sometimes you need to move on from something that's holding you back.
Get the Insight from a Business Coach
A business coach might give you different feedback after looking into more of your numbers and metrics, so I do think seeing someone like that on a recurring basis would be more beneficial than I would be answering this as a one-off.
Sounds like one of your jobs isn’t far off from the role of a business coach, so I wonder what you’d find yourself saying to a new client that came to you in the exact same predicament that you’re in about feeling lost as an entrepreneur.
Look After Your Mental Health
Whatever answer you have to that question, or whatever answers a business coach may tell you, my job here is to look after your mental health first and foremost.
And the way I see it, things aren’t adding up as it is, let alone with the responsibilities you two would like to undertake in owning a home and having children.
Lost as an Entrepreneur: Changing Values or Goals
These are a couple of the values (or goals) you mention along with freedom, travel and family. It’s wonderful that you’re taking the time to sit back and acknowledge these. It’s also wonderful that you’re trying to shape a lifestyle that supports these values and that, to this point, you feel it has done so successfully.
But in my opinion, your life is no longer supporting them as much as you might like to tell yourself it is, and realizing that subconsciously is probably part of the reason you asked this question, and are feeling as though the frustration and pressure are starting to mount.
Usually, when things are going wrong, it’s the sign that our main values aren’t being fulfilled in one way or another.
This may be hard for you to see, but again, based only on my quick outside perspective, it doesn’t line up for me. I’ll go down the list of my perceptions:
Freedom. I don’t see how there’s much of that for either of you with a combined 80-100 hours of non-delegated work, especially if there’s unpredictability in some of your jobs that could require you to perform an unexpected task at a moment’s notice. Not to mention the fact that entrepreneurs typically have a hard time shutting their brains off when there’s no scheduled, structured work time. You might be different, though.
Perhaps you guys get around to doing some traveling. You didn’t mention much about that. But I’d think your concern about money could prohibit travel to some degree.
Family is layered. I don’t know how kids could possibly be given enough attention right now with the current workload. I also don’t know how much time you’re taking or are able to take to see immediate family members. However, this current structure is good for being able to spend time with your fiancé. It seems like you’re able to both see each other a lot, and confidently grow in the same direction.
That leads me to my final thought, which is that right now, your best ally is probably your fiancé (which is good news!). You two definitely seem to be on the same page about which direction you want to grow in, which research has shown to be quietly one of the most determining factors for any couple’s success.
With that in mind, and having that crucial box checked off, I think it’s highly important for you two to sit down, take a breath, and catch up on what you both really want, right now and in the future.
Discuss What You Really Want
What’s most important? If you want practicality, surely you can decipher which revenue steams are making the most sense based on ROI. Is it buying a house? Is it staying in LA? Is it having children? Is it having a diverse collection of revenue streams? Is apparel the most fun? Is apartment management the most fun?
You may be aware of your values, but I get the feeling you’ve gotten lost as an entrepreneur in the fray of what sacrifices need to be made in order to actually live by them to the fullest. Re-center and get clear about what you want most, top to bottom and plan from there.
Lost as an Entrepreneur: Conclusion
I don’t know nearly enough about all these things that you’re trying to balance to just tell you what to keep and what not to keep, but I do know that your priorities aren’t being met entirely, that your fiancé is the partner in crime you’re tackling this with, and that you two need to take a second to re-strategize. That’s going to be the first step rather than continuing to grind and hoping that mental or financial clarity will somehow work itself out.
Once you guys talk, condense yourselves, have some more certainty as to what specifically you want, feel free to reach back out and I’ll welcome you with open arms to help create some specific steps.
To the woman who sent this in on feeling lost as an entrepreneur, I really do hope you reach back out if you feel it’s necessary. As much as I’d like to give more unique instruction, I’m just very sold on the first and clearly most important step for you being to step away and dial it back in a way that adheres to the values you and your fiancé share.
There was a lot presented today, and I feel I’d be doing too much assuming to go beyond where I went. So again, you’re more than welcome to come back any time. Same goes for the rest of you, those who have and have not submitted questions, you’re always welcome. Email questions to us at advice AT oldpodcast DOT com
Send them there and we’ll help you as best we can. We’re done for today, though. Thanks for sticking with this longer one, and I can’t wait to be back with you next time. Until then.