To Tell The Truth

Myth #4

"I'll have all this free time . . ."

Reality: Could it be that people still believe entrepreneurs lead lives of leisure? Could the unrealistic ideals (It's fun! It's freedom!) still be breeding in the minds of disgruntled corporate workers? A Generation Xer was recently quoted in Time magazine as saying, "Having your own business means not worrying about what some head guy in Dallas thinks. No matter how much money you make for them, you are still just an x. And you can be x-ed off. With my own business, I could come in at 7 a.m. and leave at noon to play golf."

That quote makes a real entrepreneur do one of two things: laugh hysterically or cringe. "My schedule has been and remains extremely full and busy," says Gordon. "My reality includes 10-hour workdays and usually at least one weekend day. As CEO, my days revolve around all facets of the business, from architectural review and real estate site selection decisions to operational issues--visual presentation decisions along with a major emphasis on merchandise and product direction." Whew!

There is some truth, says Gordon, to the "more freedom" aspect of the myth. "Running a business does, in fact, mean having more freedom," he says. "But this includes the freedom to fail. Responsibility and control clearly rest with one person: you. Therefore, with the freedom comes the burden. When starting a new venture, you may take a long weekend off, go on vacations and exercise more control over your time, but a vacation is never really a vacation because the enterprise never shuts down."

By attracting talented employees who manage the business competently, Gordon is finally able to take a breather, if not a noontime break for the links. "My business life is no more or less hectic than when I started the store [18] years ago," he says. "The one major positive impact is that when I go on vacation, I truly let the company proceed while I likewise proceed with `vacating.' "

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