In many regards I am sure my story echos that of many people that might find there way here. I made and sold wallets out of a wagon as a kid, had a lawn service and various other businesses throughout high school. I dropped out of college the first time to move to LA and pursue music. Once that fizzled out my wife and I started our first company together.
Maxine, Dear was a wholesale accessories brand that landed some pretty big accounts quickly. I dropped out of college for the second time when that business took off and required too much of my time. In a story too long for this section that business lead to our first retail store and a location change from Los Angeles to Columbus, OH.
So maybe it wasn’t music school, and wallets out of a wagon for you but it seems like a lot of us follow the same trajectory of being interested in business at an early age, often dropping out of or not paying attention in college so we can devote ourselves to it and then finding ourselves buried by it somewhere between 30-40. Or, simplified, the same inputs generally provide the same outputs.
Not everyone gets this, but for me I had a very visceral point of reflection where I had worked a team to the point of exhaustion and most everyone quit leaving me to do inventory (typically a 3-4 person job) alone. On the second 18 hour day my wife took my daughter to meet me for dinner and she started crying when I put her in her car seat to go home. She hadn’t seen me basically from Black Friday to Christmas and now was seeing me even less. I had been wrestling with balance and trying to solve the equation without giving anything up for a while but at that exact second realized whatever gains could be found working this hard weren’t worth this.
After 15 years of owning businesses, and getting to know other business owners I’ve seen too many painful divorces, bad relationships with kids and ultimately miserable people because they’ve broken every bond around them in pursuit of growth. Wishing to avoid that fate I began searching for tools and methods to run my business in a way that still allowed me to have a life outside of it.
Today I am 37 and fortunate to share a home with my wife, daughter and dogs. I’m enjoying having time again to build things, tinker around with scooters, and hang out with my family. We still own two retail businesses but we’re running them in a much different way. I want this blog to be serve as cautionary tale, a way out of the trap and a beacon of hope that one can be an entrepreneur without giving up everything else.