No Coast Consulting

Connecting the strategic to the tactical.


Guest Blog: Jacob Repp on "Life As An Entrepreneur"

I’ve had the privilege to own my own financial services business for about two years. And let me tell you it has been a roller coaster of a journey. People, including my clients, always listen to my advice. The hours are short and the effort it takes is easy.  I never wake up in the morning or go to bed at night thinking about the next steps and where my next business is going to come from. And there are never times when I hate my boss (me).

Obviously that is all sarcasm because there are days that I wish that I can have a sick day or send someone in my place because I’m not feeling like doing something or going somewhere. Those don’t exist. There is no room to complain about my boss, because any success or failure falls on my shoulders, nobody else’s. Oh, and because I am the boss. Being an entrepreneur is a constant love/hate relationship and a double edged sword. The same freedom you have can kill you. The consistency of income isn’t there. Everything that I do has a lag affect, usually 2-3 months down the road, which doesn’t bode well if I’m looking for some instant gratification. My 8-5 job friends also don’t get it. “Just worry about that tomorrow” or “Don’t take your work home,” are common phrases I’ve heard, but as you know if you are an entrepreneur your life and your business are intertwined.  You have to grind, and you have to think about what’s next constantly. Nothing goes according to plan, and there is only so much that is in your control. What is plan B, C, D, and E? Corporate American just doesn’t understand that mentality.

These two years have been two years of joy and sorrow, success and failure, growth and pain, excitement and regret, and faith and second guessing. It’s weird because I love what I do and I’ve experienced probably every emotion possible while trying to grow my business. Do I miss my life in corporate America? There are times. But being able to build something from scratch and literally make life altering impacts on the lives of real people in the midst of the good, bad, and the ugly of life brings so much satisfaction. I wouldn’t try that for the world. I’m still learning how to value my time, how to prioritize, how to find times for self-care, and everything else that any self-employed person struggles with, but it is totally worth it. Someday I’ll be at the table making decisions that will shape Des Moines 30-40 years from now into an even better city. Until then, let’s partner together, help as many people as possible, and change the world together. Us entrepreneurs need to stick together, because the journey can get lonely and discouraging. There are days you just need a whisky and Coke and a friend that understands who will laugh or cry with you. Reach out to me, I totally get it. We need each other, almost like therapy.

The top 3 challenges of being your own boss

1.       Cash is King!

Many start up founders have heard the saying, “It takes money to make money.” Access to funds and capital certainly helps, but it’s not the aggregate solution to your start up problems.

Because of the ease of technology and the internet of things, the cost of starting a business is coming down all the time. Now, more than ever before, there are cost effective ways test the market with a new product idea. This helps make the validation of your minimum viable product that much easier.

Don’t let your finances own you. You are ultimately responsible for your financial decision, at that requires you to have a basic amount of financial literacy.

Wants versus needs. It’s important to distinguish between what you need for your business, versus what you want. That thing you think you need? You don’t need it. It might be tempting to invest a bunch of money on a marketing campaign, but if you can barely keep the lights on, that may not be the time to bring in an outside marketing firm to promote your business. You may have to stick with bootstrapping it longer than you would want. Stop spending time and money on frivolous distractions; that new shipment of lush business cards won’t determine your future.

2.       Know when to pivot

Every small business will hit a time when they realize they must alter their business. This could involve changing your product, demographic focus or marketing strategy. Pivot is not a one dimensional word in terms of starting a business, it’s part of the normal course of business in the start-up world.

Every new business faces an uphill battle when making their first few sales, but once you get the past the honeymoon phase of running your business, you have to convince customers to buy your product or service. This means your company’s value proposition should speak to things people already want, or want to do.

If you get to much push back from the market you have to consider whether your product is what people actually want, or whether your marketing is saying what people actually want to hear. It might be the product or it might be how it’s positioned, but finding solutions to both problems starts with the market in mind.

3.       Work-Life Balance

I have come to find that if you want to be your own boss, than you need to give up on the idea of having a nice blend of work-life responsibilities. Don’t get me wrong it’s admirable pursuit, but the realities of running a small business don’t allow for much time for a social life outside of pouring your hear and soul into the business.

In 2018, work life balance is a bit of fallacy. It’s less about a zero-sum game versus investing time in what feeds your soul. Where you invest your time says a lot about what your value. Running a business is no different. You will get out of it, what you put into it. It’s important to track and take account of your time. This will help you understand where you investing your time, talents and resources.

As you can see running a business is not all peaches and crème, it comes with a lot of challenges and distractions. That being said at the end of the day it is worth the headaches if you ware willing to give up some of your flexibility and work life balance.

No Coast Founder- Dr. Ryan Anderson