It’s a popular adage that you need to do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. And if you cannot find what you love, don’t settle. Keep on looking for it until you find it.
To be honest, I find this to be 80% BULLSH*T.
If everyone did what they love, many would be jobless.
For every person who succeeds in Hollywood or in Silicon Valley, there’s a gazillion over people who remain destitute and jaded. We’re talking about a Selection Bias here, and I always thought that many people who got rich became so because they were very lucky and was at the right place or the right time, or had the wits and deviousness to get ahead.
My husband’s best friend is a 30-year old talented artist. Specifically, he can sculpt figurines from scratch through the use of resin, styropor, glue, paint and fiber glass.
He used to have a cushy job in a Philippine public company. However, as he looked around at all the tycoons who were getting rich by the minute, he shook his head and wanted a piece of the pie. For him, having been educated in top schools, he was wasting his intellect working for somebody else. Why work for someone else if you can be your own boss?
“To be rich, you have to have your own business,” he said. “I am wasting my time just by being an employee. As an employee, your earnings as limited. If you’re the boss, the sky is the limit.”
As a result, he quit his job.
In his defense, he simplified his life. He got rid of his rental and lived back with his parents. He started doing his figurines full time.
“Before, I have to do what my boss wants to do,” he said. “Now, I can do what I want to do.”
His interests lie in making medieval houses and WWII items. “They make me nostalgic. Medieval villages tell us of happier times when life was void of consumerism and greed.”
“Yes, but it also tells of times when there was no electricity and hot water,” I replied. “Who would want to live in a period where you’ll most likely be the slave?”
“Yes, but you can also be a knight or a baron?” he optimistically opined.
The problem with medieval homes is that not a lot of people like them. In a country where people are worried about a roof over their heads, a medieval house is not one of the best things to collect.
Until Hollywood came out with the Lord of the Rings movie franchise, not everyone was keen to relive the medieval days especially since we never really went through the medieval period. Heck, a house is a house. How do we know what house differs from the other?
“But I want to make houses!” my husband friend’s proclaimed. “I can make the most beautiful houses, and make it to a diorama.”
Well, aside from the Christmas nativity scene, the Filipinos aren’t really keen on collecting town dioramas. It just doesn’t do things for us.
So here’s the dilemma of my husband’s friend — he quit his corporate job to do medieval houses and WW2 dioramas, only to find out that there is not enough demand for them.
As he went through the motions of hawking out his big inventory of houses, he had to face reality that not a lot of people wanted to buy them. Not everyone believed in his dream. Sure, they were great houses but not a lot of people wanted to buy a lot of houses for their collection.
“They’ll just be junked if you buy them,” said another acquaintance. “Nice to have, but useless anywhere else.”
The solution came shortly by the fact that there is enough demand for Transformers, Gundam and Star Wars diorama. Thanks to Hollywood, there is renewed interest for robotic machines. Thanks to nostalgia, there’s also enough grown men to shell out money for them.
For example, a plastic Transformer toy can cost Php 6,500 in Toy Kingdom. That’s 13x of the daily minimum wage. And that’s just “one” toy.
“But I don’t feel any feeling with Gundam or Transformers,” my husband’s friend moaned. “I want to do houses!”
The problem was, he was one of the few who loved houses. Hence, he had no income.
So my husband persuaded him to start doing other things. His friend was a very talented man. It would be a shame to put that talent to waste. Besides, his friend was running out of cash. There is a limit to how much cheese and bread you can eat.
Begrudgingly, his friend agreed. They started to do more products that had higher demand. Sales started to pick up. Income started to come.
And then his friend started complaining again. That he didn’t want to do these items. That he wanted to follow his dreams and do what he wanted. That was the reason why he quit his job in the first place.
And here lies the problem of many wannabe entrepreneurs.
They want to be rich. They know what they need to do to be rich. And yet, they want to be rich THEIR way. Even if nobody really wants to buy their stuff.
I am also an entrepreneur. Most of my days are spent berating my sales staff, paying the bills, and sending out memos. None of these are happy and cool.
Of course, there are some happy days too — like the time my staff cried and thanked us for providing them livelihood, like after a busy Christmas when most of our stores hit their quotas, and like the time I see we are making a difference in our people’s lives and seeing them stabilize their families and life.
But honestly, not all days are happy. Most days are exhausting, stressful and problematic.
“If you’re not happy being an entrepreneur, why are you still being one?” husband said. “Nobody is forcing you to be one anyway!”
Actually, its hard to be an entrepreneur. Once you start your business and have people under you, it’s hard to just give up and fold your business just because you’re not feeling it. So many people are depending on you to keep your company well capitalized, well-managed, and smoothly operational.
My point is, managing a business is like getting married. Once your business is open, you have to do whatever is necessary to keep it open, even if you don’t enjoy it.
A lot of people mistakenly think that being an entrepreneur means being your own boss AND doing whatever the hell you want. This is WRONG.
Being an entrepreneur is a HUGE responsibility. People are counting on you to make the right decisions and to keep the business afloat. It means making the hard decisions even if you don’t want to. It means sticking in your business even everyone has already abandoned ship.
There are days where I don’t like myself. Especially when I have to lay people off just because they don’t make the cut. Or when I run out of stocks because I didn’t order early enough. There was a time I almost ran out of stocks because of supplier delays.
Being an entrepreneur is loving the work. Not because you love it in the first place, but rather because you have grown to love it. And by hook or by crook, you’re not going to give up just because it gets hard.
My husband’s friend is wrong. You don’t become an entrepreneur because you love what you’re doing. Sure, you can start a business because you love your product or service, but the longevity of a business does not depend on feelings alone.
Instead, it depends on a deep sense of responsibility to your customers, to your investors, to your staff and also to yourself.
Feelings come and go. But a business, well, hopefully, you hold onto it as hard as you can. It is only when you make a deep commitment that a business can truly thrive.
So yes, do what you love. But most importantly, running a successful business involves loving what you do. Even if what you do don’t love you back.
Happy Holy Week!