The Prophet’s Profits

I’ve never met an entrepreneur who hasn’t felt like a total and abject failure – a sniveling, quivering pile of spineless flesh, hiding behind a superhero facade. Bankruptcy, fire, lawsuits, tax problems, employee fraud, an inability to meet payroll, the sheriff ready to lock the doors, a freeze on assets, and on and on.

Moreover, Bloomberg Business reports that “8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months.” No future is guaranteed, and many entrepreneurs never recover from the loss of their investment in that future. Not every prophet profits.

If you’re an entrepreneur like me, you’ve known fear and anxiety that can smother as surely as a plastic bag over the head. Like most successful entrepreneurs, I, too, have been in some of these dark places. But this article isn’t for the entrepreneurs. It’s for the employees. And there are a lot of you. According to the Small Business Administration, firms with fewer than 20 employees account for 90% of all business workers in the U.S.

So, to the myriad employees, here are some things your employer would like you to consider. He or she won’t tell you, so I will:

  1. Don’t throw me in with all that 1%er stuff. Most business owners are lucky to keep their heads above water.
  2. I care about you, but you will always be my second love. My first must be to keep the company healthy for all of us.
  3. That smile on my face? It’s often just paint.
  4. Sometimes I’ve paid your wages with my home mortgage.
  5. I always pay you first. I get paid if – and only if – there are any profits.
  6. And if there are no profits for some time, it will be me, not you, who loses everything.
  7. Taxes, healthcare, government red tape, insurance, lawsuits, poor sales… these are but a very few of the demons I carry home with me at night. And your biggest issue is the employee next to you who pops her gum.
  8. I have risked more than everything I have to realize my dream.
  9. Sometimes that dream is a nightmare.
  10. But if I am successful… even marginally so… it’s because I survived all of the above. Please don’t judge me when I reap my rewards.

The world’s entrepreneurs appreciate everything you do. The future they see cannot be reached without you. But also, these prophets are your own first line of defense: You should know how much they sacrifice for you and your paycheck (plus your benefits that cost him or her 30% more!)

If this resonates with you, here’s what you should do right now: Print a hard copy of this article. Give that and a firm handshake to the owner. Look ‘em right in the eye and say, “I get it. Thank you.”

It’s a small investment on your part, and guaranteed to pay dividends. But there are no guarantees of your prophet’s profits.

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