I didn't have 10 things to say. I had 9 though.
1. You don’t get days off.
You get days away from the literal brick and mortar of the thing you're doing, but you don't get days off. It's kind of like parenting. No matter what you're doing, your kids aren't too far off your mind. With kids, you always have reason to smile. With a business, you always have reason to worry about a hot water heater breaking, or a roof leaking, or an employee not showing, or etc. Your worry will be limitless and there's little assuaging it.
C.S. Lewis once described dealing with the loss of his wife in this way: Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything. Not to be too emphatic, but running a business is all-consuming and will bring you closer to death. Try taking a day off from dying. You can't, man.
2. You’re not even really the boss.
Like, I get what the organizational chart says, but when an employee calls in sick you can't boss them into the shift. You can't boss them out of sick, or fever, or hangover. You can yell at them, I guess, because you're the boss or whatever. But you're also covering the shift, because you're not really the boss. When your ingredient list isn't prepared correctly, you can't boss the ingredients into being on the truck they were supposed to be on. You can yell at the food people, because you're the boss or whatever. But you're also driving to the store because you're not really the boss.
3. You can’t be good at everything. And you won’t be.
Rule of Pie sells pie. We sell different kinds of pie, but not all kinds of pie. We do some other things, but on a smaller scale. We're relentless about what we do and what we don't do. We won't ever do cake, because cake is inferior to pie. We won't ever do shells florentine because our shells florentine sucks. Go to Cummare's for that.
Mark Bell's Super Training brand is pretty focused. It's why I like it. If you've ever been to a commercial gym you're living in, like stuck directly in a marketing masterclass. There are hundreds of machines at commercial gyms designed to "isolate" certain body parts, to "tone" them, or "tighten" them, as if your musculature can be reformed like wet earth. That premise is a lie and the machines are a ruse. Super Training knows this, (in knowing that your body is made up of fat and lean tissue unable to shape-shift) and all of their work telescopes down to three barbell lifts: the back squat, deadlift, and bench press. They're at the gym five, six, sometimes seven days a week and you never have to ask them what they're doing. They're always working toward greater totals of back squat, deadlift and bench press. This, friends, is the truth. It is the gospel of the barbell and it will accomplish a good, strong work in you.
So, you should stick to what you're good at because (odds are) you're less talented than you think.
4. It's impossible to overvalue your own time as a commodity.
You have to protect your time as your most valuable commodity. No one is more valuable to your business than you because more output means less reliance on payroll. People who work for other people tend to forget this easily, or have never had to learn it.
5. Small business will kill your joy.
People hit us with this all of the time. Like, oh, you're doing what you love for a living! How great! I always smile and nod and never eat pie. I could never eat pie again. Don't think you're hobby is directly translatable into business. If it is, you're probably going to be looking for a new hobby. Like my hot, sultry, scandalous love affair with doughnuts. They're my hobby now, until we put them on a menu, I start golfing more, coming home late for dinner and start brushing my teeth at the kitchen sink so as to not wake anyone in the too-early light of morning.
6. You have to say no to a lot of things.
This is unfortunate, might make you uncomfortable and is really going to make other people angry. But it's all for the better. This weekend we're donating a whole bunch of pie to a Wounded Warrior event. We don't go telling people about it, because we've also had to tell four other causes--just this week--that we're unable to help them. We're too busy playing the Little Dutch Boy most days, running around covering the holes in the dyke to give reasoned and eloquent explanations for everything.
I was on the phone with a guy from Yelp the other day, about to say no to something before he asked me how I was doing:
Yelp Guy: Hello, is this Rick Stapel?
Me: This is Rick Stapel.
Yelp Guy: You're a hard guy to get a hold of!
Me: I guess so.
Yelp Guy: How are you doing today?!
Me: Shit is a really rolling on down the hill, friend. Just rolling on and away. All down hill.
Yelp Guy: ...
Me: That's how shit moves. Just how they tell you! All down hill! I've never seen shit rolling uphill. It's just like they tell you. No shit up the hill. It's all down hill.
Yelp Guy: ... *chuckles*
Me: And I lost my phone the other day. Half the reason I carry it around all the time is just in case I see shit rolling up hill. If I ever see it, I'm gonna take a picture of it. I'm gonna just. I'm gonna take a selfie with it.
Yelp Guy: ... Is now not a good time for you?
I telegraphed that no so hard, I didn't even have to say it.
7. Profit is like the cosmos.
It doesn't care about much. That doesn't mean you shouldn't care about much. It's just that your margins are indifferent to what's happening around them. Not to get all existentialist here late post, but hoping to profit without motivating profit is like Waiting on Godot.
8. The taxes are too damn high
I wanted to write a blog post with this title, but Miranda advised against it, said someone would say something dumb and falsely equivalent about liking to driving on roads or call policemen in response to my complaining about taxes. I told her I would tell those persons to go to hell, maybe with no detours. And she said I shouldn't do that. So here we are.
9. There is but one reward.
You might contribute directly to someone's happiness. You might actually make actual things quantifiably better for someone.