Running Out of Runway
Typically I don’t discuss my personal life or experiences in this forum, I now realize how much of a missed opportunity that has been. While people sometimes enjoy reading how-to guides and the “Top 10 Tips for X,” it’s the personal, and hopefully relatable stories that really move people and resonates with them. This story is about the moment when you get the sobering realization that you are speeding rapidly down the runway, and you better take off very soon…
So, a couple of weeks ago, my fiancé and I were invited out to dinner with my future in-laws. Initially it seemed normal enough, and I didn’t think much of it as dinner with them is pretty common. But then all of a suddenly it dawned on me, I was about to get grilled.
To set the scene a bit, while my future father-in-law is one of the nicest men around and we do have a great relationship, he is also a typical alpha-male and very successful self-made entrepreneur in the aviation industry. He knows better than anyone the struggle it is to start your own business, but at the same time he also has his only daughter’s present and future to be concerned about, and he wanted reassurance that both were in good hands.
Now, I’m an eternal optimist for the most part, so I excitedly began telling him about all the amazing opportunities I have going on, the wonderful current clients and projects, the great prospective ones coming up, etc. Success is a foregone conclusion in my mind, and only a matter of time. The thought of failure doesn’t even cross my mind.
Needless to say, he was thoroughly unimpressed. He had heard similar things like this from me before but at this point wanted to see real tangible results. He now wanted me to put a deadline on when, if I wasn’t making enough money that I would give up my dream, face reality and get a real job to make real money. Up until this conversation I hadn’t really made the connection that what some people (like myself) consider optimism, others consider bull shit. I can’t say I blame him. After all, over a very long career he’s seen it all before, and seen many optimistic young men just like me with all the passion in the world still fail.
While I was feeling pretty down after this conversation, I certainly wasn’t going to let it defeat me. After the initial sting wore off I realized that I had two choices: I could take his advice and go update my resume, or I could use it as motivation to light a fire and get back to work.
Obviously I chose the latter, as some of the recent success I’ve been having prior to this was extremely encouraging and I just know that this is what I’m meant to be doing. But I also knew that I needed to tweak my approach.
Now I have simplified my priorities to the following: provide exceptional service for the clients I already have, track my time and bill them regularly (unfortunately collecting is by far the hardest part of being an entrepreneur), and then focus on bringing in new business after the first two are covered.
At the time it was a very awkward and uncomfortable conversation with my future father-in-law, but in hindsight it was very necessary. In the couple weeks since I’ve been much more focused and disciplined in the day-to-day operations of my business. I’ve always had a keen instinct for self-preservation (that’s even more so now that I have others to take care of as well) so there’s really no greater motivation than realizing that if you don’t soon take off, you’re going to crash and burn.
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