Yet I've spoken with scores of business-owners-to-be who say they want to set up shop to have more leisure time. They de- scribe making their own schedule, having plenty of free time, and a life with money, freedom and no boss. All of this is possible, of course, but don't underestimate the initial and ongoing commitment of your time and the sheer number of hours you will work to turn a profit. Being a business owner can make you more money, give you more freedom than you've ever had before, and allow you to de- sign your life according to your preferences. Travel or no travel; set up at home or in an office; work alone or as part of a team. If being an entrepreneur didn't afford my family and me the life it does, I wouldn't do it.
But I have never worked more hours than I do now. It took years of struggle and sacrifice—long hours, typically seven days a week—to make my business a big moneymaker. And it's an ongoing devil. I still work harder than I ever did at one of my "real" jobs. Once again, talk to most entrepreneurs and they'll echo this. Call me crazy, but I wake up each morning ready to tackle a new day and a new set of challenges. I'm even more thrilled that I chose this path than as I was on Day One.
Pluck vs. Luck
I learned the word pluck from my father-in-law, Jim Johnson. He used to call me "plucky," and I had to look it up because it sounded like a name for a chicken. It means "determined, daring, fearless, spirited, resolute, audacious, spunky, unflinching, gutsy." I love it. Pluck is the very definition of what it takes to be a profitable small business owner.
Women often tell me how lucky I am to own a successful small business. It's true: I have had good fortune, but it has come from hard work and determination. Luck is rare and unreliable. Pluck is the very opposite. It's about taking control and making your goal a reality. I'll take pluck over luck every time.
No one would say that Tierra Destiny Reid was lucky when Macy's eliminated her department while she was on maternity leave in 2009. Instead of looking for another job, she decided to start a business. A stylish woman on a military wife's budget, Tierra knew from experience how to stay fashionable at a discount. It took pluck to take what she knew about budget fashion and turn it into a profitable retail operation. She scoped out the right location, negotiated a favorable lease, furnished the space with used fixtures and opened a clothing store that is now Stylish Consignments, a go-to resale resource in Atlanta.
Tierra invested every penny of her $6,000 in severance and ended the year grossing $80,000 in retail sales—without incurring a dime of debt. (I'll talk more about avoiding debt in the coming chapters.)
Some people are born with pluck, but others have to learn how to take risks and see them through. You'll need pluck to deal with the adversity and opportunity that you'll encounter along the way. You may dream of catching lightning in a bottle, but never count on it. Don't expect to get lucky, either.