5 Most Annoying Things to Ask an Entrepreneur / by Kia Jarmon

Last year, there was this huge viral video phenom that featured Sh!t Entrepreneurs/Singles/Women Say (and the list could go on).  The list of hilariously parodied videos boasted of the gross over-dramatization of what specific groups say or do that make them stand out.  I, of course, particularly loved the one about Entrepreneurs because I believe it was a funny way of addressing some of the things we hear as a reaction to our decision to be a self-starter and create our own path.

After six months of the funniest moments of my career I had to put together my list of the 5 most annoying things I hear on a weekly basis.  I thought possibly I was alone is my feelings until I realized that many of my colleagues and I laugh about these very things all the time.

1. Are you making money?

Uh, hello…what the heck kinda question is this! Here is the thing.  1) the reality is that it doesn’t EVER matter if I make money unless you are prepared to pay a bill or two on my behalf and 2) More importantly just because you don’t understand an entrepreneurs life, don’t understand the billing cycle, or couldn’t live on a net 30, 90, 120 doesn’t mean than money isn’t being made.  Entrepreneurs have trained themselves to know their ‘hot’ seasons and the slower ones, how to bill so that you keep money in the bank, and how to keep a stash because it always rains.

Here‘s the caveat: unless you are preparing yourself to go down the path of entrepreneurship and you need assurance this question (and others that allude to it) are off limits, especially at a cocktail party, over dinner, or while networking.  After all if I’m at an event I had enough gas money to get there…that’s the only thing that should matter to you.

2. Do you work full time?

For some reason there is a myth that if you work for yourself that it must only be a part time hustle/hobby/situation.  The answer to this question, quite honestly, is no I don’t work full time…my business is more than 40 hours of my week.  Every day, night, and early morning meditative moment lends itself to be a part of my company and my growth on its behalf.  What most never see are the 16 hour days, the countless ‘emergencies’ that require our attention, and the balance of work, networking, marketing, and actually breathing for a second.  Those hours usually can’t be summed up in a 40-hour work week.

The lesson here is that to get a result beyond the typical work that is required of us we must step outside of the thought that being an entrepreneur is a hustle and that we’re playing or having fabulous lunches all the time. We chose this life because we wanted something better so we sacrifice to have just that.

3. Can you afford to {fill in the blank}?

Referring back to #1. This question tickles me because my sacrifice to do what I absolutely love somehow costs me the ability to enjoy life.  What the what?! Quite the contrary my friend.  I am able to do everything I want, need, and some more because I control what that looks like.  I work hard, and sometimes harder, than some just so that I can go all out when I want to.  Do I have a set vacation? No.  Do I want to have more paid time off? Yes.  Would I like to do more traveling? Yes.  While these answers vary it is not a matter of affording but a matter of sacrificing now to have the most comfortable {lavish} life later.

4. How much do you charge?

The most annoying question I hear while at a networking event is “How much do you charge?”  I’m sorry but I don’t work off of a rate sheet.  There is a lot of care and planning that goes into a budget.  I understand why the question is something most want to know however you limit yourself when you ask before we get to the core of your needs.  So the bottom line is that you are more than likely being nosy {refer to # 1) and want to find out if I make money or how I make money.

Ultimately, the answer to this question is left for those who seriously want to inquire about services. Again, my caveat is that if you are in the industry and want to have a conversation about how to charge or if you are curious how to outline your company budget there are better questions to get you to your answer.  If you ask the right questions you will actually understand the value of adding us to your team.

5. Are you busy?

One of the most aggravating questions to me is “are you busy?”  While I am certain most everyone who asks this question is trying to be respectful of my time it is a matter of semantics and getting the correct answer requires a different question. For the record I, along with most every other entrepreneur, could almost always be considered busy.  Why? We are working in the business, on the business, and thinking of 15 other businesses to start, weed through, or partner in.  Honestly, our brains are trained to stay “busy” and until we cut off our thoughts we are always working on something.

So what is a better question?  Something like “do you have a moment?” or “is this still a good time to talk?” would be more beneficial to you and you won’t get a chuckle from me on the other end of the call.

I’m sure I’ve missed some of the funny and annoying things people say to entrepreneurs. What have you heard recently?

Kia Jarmon is a brand strategist and PR coach with boutique public relations firm, The MEPR Agency.  She speaks, blogs, mentors, and is soon to be an author.  You can find more information at her personal brand site, www.KiaJarmon.com.