Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Devil You Know vs. The Devil You Don't Know

Since I have only been introduced to the world of blogging relatively recently, I had no idea just how addictive it could become. Not so much in terms of posting stuff myself, but in roaming around and reading what others are blogging about. It doesn't take long before you are reading a good deal of pretty fascinating stuff.

I am passing along one of the most recent postings I came across because so many of our members are either a part of or very interested in becoming engaged in a small business (preferably one that they own).

The blog site is called Small Business Trends and is run by Anita Campell. She writes some very interesting stuff plus a free newsletter that I also signed on for. In any case, she recently posted an article that caught my eye called Starting Small Businesses Later In Life. It caught my attention because in the surveys we have done of our membership for the past 13+ years, we see data that tied in very well with information she shared from a Yahoo! Small Business/Harris Interactive survey that gauged entrepreneurial attitudes.

The survey results, among other things, showed that 56% of those responding (and they had over 2,200 responders) said they wanted to own their own business later in life. When Anita was writing about this, she ginned up this chart which makes the results even more eye-catching.

While people wanting to own their own business may not be such a revelation, something Anita said in her posting came as a bit of an eye-opener to me. She said in part:

"This desire to continue working later in life seems at odds with another trend, that of people foregoing high-pressure corporate positions or jobs that bore them, for lifestyle reasons. People are saying they do not want to be part of the rat race. Is this really at odds with conventional wisdom?”

Not really. What I believe is happening is that people are moving towards better integration between their work and the rest of their lives. They see owning their own business as offering flexibility. The choice is no longer either work at a demanding pace or not work at all. Instead, they can work at something they really enjoy at a pace that fits with the rest of their lives. When work and personal life are integrated better, with flexible work hours and conditions, they want to continue working."

I kept reading and re-reading this and wondering if this was really the case. For sure I know very few people who wake up in the morning saying "Boy, I can't wait for the rat race to get started again today!" I think that many of us wake up in the morning thinking, "Wow, how great would it be if I were my own boss!" No more political BS, I can start and stop when I want, no more worry about my job being the next one to be downsized. How great is that?"

My answer is, “Not a great as you might think,” and in many respects the downsides of the rat race are simply replaced with the downsides of owning your own business. One source of stress is replaced with another. There is, however, one critical difference between the two that makes dealing with the stresses a bit easier -- passion and belief in what you are doing.

I don't know about anyone else out there who has left the rat race and went out on their own, but at least in my case, what I would share with Anita (and maybe others who are thinking about all this) is that while it is very true that most of us in “later life" want to continue working that does not necessarily translate into the tidy integration of work and personal life. I went from a 5 day a week stressed out person to a 7 day a week stressed out person, and the "integration of work and personal life" didn't start to happen for me until I was 17 years into ExecuNet and my wife made what she calls a "management decision," changing the distance between work and home from 7 miles to 140 miles.


Anita Campbell said...

Hi Dave, I agree that not everyone who wants to integrate personal and work life manages it. That doesn't stop people from seeking it as an ideal, of course.

Yet, despite the hours I spend at my business, my life is still better integrated than when I made big bucks working for someone else and barely managed two non-sleeping hours at home a day.

Keep smilin'...


Dave Opton said...

Having spent some 25 years in similar circumstances, I can say with some degree of certainty that I know what you mean, and while I was talking about "stress" and "balance" the truth of the matter is that I have never had more fun in my life than being involved in ExecuNet.

I have always had a "problem" with the balance issue, but I'm working on it, and when you have a passion for something as you clearly do (as do I)it doesn't make it any easier.