It gets easier.
Reality: Life with Restoration Hardware continues to get more challenging, says Gordon. "Many people may be able to craft an easier existence," he says. "I've yet to understand how they do it."
We've yet to understand how anyone could think that after a few years of "paying your dues," entrepreneurs get to suddenly hit cruise control. The sentiment is as silly as runners expecting a marathon to get easier by the 24th mile.
Bruce FaBrizio recalls the day when the concept behind Sunshine Makers Inc. started: He and his father saw a person die in a chemical accident. In 1975, they started the business to develop a safer alternative to toxic cleaners. "We had this Don Quixote mentality, that we were going to go out and fight the windmills of environmental terrorism, that we were going to do whatever it took to make a difference," says FaBrizio of Simple Green, the nontoxic cleaning formula that is now a household name. "We worked around the clock from the minute we started the business. You begin scratching and clawing, and you have this vision that one day you'll go through this door of vindication and the business will run smoothly on an 8-to-5 schedule."
FaBrizio's father died pursuing this vision; FaBrizio keeps pushing. "Business, like life, seems to have these five-year cycles. Every five years, you get jarred into trying to crawl over the next wall that's more steep, more treacherous, more difficult and more challenging than the last," he says. "It's almost a preordained destiny that you're going to run into this wall--that your very success will become your nemesis."
The way over these walls is also the toughest mental battle most entrepreneurs will face: to delegate or not to delegate? "People who come on board and do projects in their area of expertise better than you can allow you to spread your wings and become a real competitor. As difficult as it is to [let go,] I find it's the only way of truly competing successfully at this lightning speed," says FaBrizio. "We have to work faster, smarter, longer. We almost have tag-team wrestling going on in our building--where you hand off the torch at 7 p.m. on Friday and the next guy picks it up and works through the weekend--so we can have better, faster information than our competition on Monday morning."
As a result, work weeks at Huntington Harbour, California-based Sunshine Makers are more successful, though certainly not shorter. "Life doesn't get easier--it gets more efficient, more competitive," FaBrizio says. "You have to enjoy the battle. There's always going to be the heartache of the people who can't go along--who don't have the strength, the courage or the intestinal fortitude for the battle. That doesn't make them bad people or me a bad person because I'm fanatical about my dream. This is just the life I've chosen."