Every person comes to business ownership or freelancing in a different way, but there are certain themes that pervade the topic and as business advisers, we see them folks who are thinking of taking the plunge. Some of these themes are true no matter what industry the soon-to-be business owners will practice in, but some show up with more or less frequency depending on the business.
One theme that is common in all business, but seems to have an even higher incidence in sex/adult related businesses, is the “too many cooks” phenomena. We all know the old adage about too many cooks spoiling the soup, but in our experience, especially when it comes to following one’s dreams with a sex related business, this is the most commonly forgotten adage.
So why do aspiring entrepreneurs, generally a confident self-reliant group, who come up with fantastic ideas for goods or services, feel they can’t go it alone? There are likely a number of reasons for each individual, but these are a few of the overarching themes we’ve noticed during our near decade long experience with sex related businesses. In some ways, we’ve found these fears can be overcome.
- Fear of Loneliness. It’s true, starting a business is a sure fire way to test whether you enjoy spending time with yourself because you are guaranteed to be doing a lot of work, often on your own. This may be especially true if the business you are starting is the “first of its kind” in your area, which is often the case if you decide to open a sex-related business. Your nearest competitor may be hundreds of miles away, which is a blessing from a marketing standpoint, but often a curse for feeling as if you have a community when it comes to work. So does bringing a friend, partner, colleague along help prevent becoming a hermit? Sometimes, but only if you have brought that person along for the right reason. If they offer something you are quite sure you’ll need for your business and it’s a skill that you are certain you don’t possess, then think about bringing them along. Also think about clearly spelling out in writing what you will be expecting from them. If you’re just bringing them along because you like hanging out with them or because you’re in love with them, etc., it’s likely to destroy your relationship AND your business. Do a gut check before you go into business with someone, and think about what you’ll each be bringing to the table. If you can’t put a finger on what your potential collaborator might be bringing, maybe being alone won’t be so bad. There’s always the internet community right?
- Fear of Failure/Rejection. Going into business is scary and can result in more rejection than you’ve ever faced in any type of dating or personal arena. It can be tempting to mitigate how much rejection will be about you personally by bringing someone else along. Think about it. If you don’t get a particular speaking engagement or your store doesn’t fill with customers from Day 1, you only have yourself to blame if you’re alone, but can always tell yourself that it wasn’t you, it was _____________ if there is someone else around. But this kind of thinking will be toxic to your relationship (see all the reasons in 1 above) and detrimental to your future as a successful business owner. If something doesn’t go right, it’s everyone’s fault and no one’s fault, and if you’re the type of person who needs to have someone else to blame/take the rejection, you might want to think twice about going into business or freelancing, especially in the sex/adult industry. Depending on the nature of your work, rejections can seem even more personal.
- Fear That You’re Not Enough Alone. We’ve saved the best/worst for last. This is by far the #1 reason folks decide to bring someone along with them, particularly in a sex related business. Think of it. Most of us who end up in this field didn’t have a formal track to becoming a sex educator or sex toy retailer or manufacturer. We may have studied gender or even sex in school, but that education likely didn’t include the possibility of making a full time career doing whatever crazy thing it is we’ve decided to pursue. Society spends quite a bit of time telling us we’re “not good enough” at any number of things in order to sell us some solution to create a “new and improved” version of ourselves. Given all this, it’s no wonder that so many aspiring sex entrepreneurs feel they can’t possibly be good/smart/knowledgeable/connected enough to embark on this journey alone. But don’t believe the hype. As the old cliché goes, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” This is especially true in this industry. Every day someone comes up with a new toy, class, idea or plan for helping individuals lead more fulfilling sex lives. If becoming one of those people is your dream, go follow it and make sure that if you do it with someone else, it’s for all the right reasons. Remember, just like sex, it’s not awful alone if you know what you’re doing!