You are a successful businessperson. Most people have no idea what you had to do and be in order to accomplish that. They look at your position today and assume ’twas ever thus.
They’re unable to imagine the “days of ramen.” They cannot envision you struggling to pay for gas in your old used car. All many of them ever get to see, after all, is the “success.”
Even now, the ability to pay bills is probably keeping you up at night. To this day, you expect to work as much as sixteen hours in a given day to keep your concern in good health.
Oh, some day, you may get to the point where you can relax, but that day is assuredly not today.
Your success almost invariably came and comes at a cost, and often nothing like a small one.
On the way to your current position, two interesting things happened. The first, was that the “job” outpaced the time you had to do it in. You knew you were not in a position to hire folks initially, so you just worked that much harder, hoping to get to the place where you could bring others on to help with what needed done.
Second, you ultimately got there! You became able to hire others to help out. They couldn’t do everything. There were still parts of it you had to do. You continued to hope that one day, you would be able to hire someone who could “manage,” who could make it possible for you be able to periodically take a little time off.
Maybe you’re still waiting for that to happen, but the hope abides.
The funny part of all of this? The folks you were able to hire are at best ambivalent. On the one hand, they were happy to just have a job! On the other hand though, all you do for them never seems to be enough.
One of the things that kept you from hiring for so long, was the sheer expense of taking on staff. You were small, so you weren’t required to pay things like health insurance (though you wanted to do so, it just wasn’t an option). Your workers were not “highly skilled labor,” so their wages were comparatively cheap. You remember well, the revelation of all that you had to pay on top of the wages.
There was the “employer portion” of taxes, to begin with. Until taking on people to help you out, that was “not a thing.” So many other expenses were there as well, when you started out, you didn’t need as large a space, when you took folks on, that became all but mandatory. You went from having a modest office where you worked and “took your breaks” such as they were, to needing a “break room.” Yet more space for which you had to pay.
Granted, for the help (such as it was), you counted the additional cost a “necessary evil.”
The interesting thing though is, though your employees were treated better than you were when you worked for others, they never seemed or seem happy with all you did, and continue to do for them.
The reality is, you could have kept your endeavor small. You could have managed to keep the number of people needed to get things done a great deal lower than you did. In fact, looking back, you realize you probably could have figured out how to continue to do pretty much everything on your own and still managed some sort of life.
One thought that constantly crossed your mind though, is that you could give others something to do with their time, and in return for their honest day’s work, you could give them an honest day’s wage.
Of course, you also hoped that, in growing your business, you would get improved revenue, part of which you could use to make your life a little easier. This turned out to be a great deal harder than it appeared. Taking on employees was no simple or cheap proposition. That turned out to be particularly true if you wanted to “do right by” your workers.
One thing that always mystified you though, is that you were often vilified by others, for how you treated your workers. Politicians said you didn’t do enough for them. Former and current workers were forever seeking more benefit from their employment (you acknowledge, something you somewhat understood and understand). Even when people worked in the same industry, were paid less and treated worse, they would come to work for you, and say you were not doing enough for your workers.
“It’s understandable,” you thought, “that people want more and better out of life.” Even so though, the feeling of embattlement that became more or less constant totally changed the character of your life.
In the end, it got to the point where you had others working for you, “managing” your workers, and they ended up taking a large part of the flak. Oh, you still had to deal with it, but more from a distance.
In the end though, the point is, you worked very hard for what you had and have. You made so many sacrifices. You made do. You scraped for years. You learned the meaning of hunger, of need, first hand.
Your road was not an easy one. Getting from a place of working for others, making little to nothing yourself, you understand acutely how your employees feel. At the same time though, you know what it took to get from that point, to the place you now reside. You know it wasn’t any easy thing.
What makes that even harder to this day, is that others aren’t happy for you. They don’t celebrate your success. Rather, they curse you under their collective breath. You understand their situations, but it doesn’t make it any easier that they “bite the very hand that feeds them.”
What should others take away from this? Firstly, your employer does not “owe you” a position. Secondly, those people who are successful, have often failed far more than they have succeeded. They have likely seen just as many (and probably far more) struggles and hard times as you have, and possibly more than you ever will.
As usual, thanks for reading, and may your time be good.