Sometimes you Clean Toilets – The life of an Entrepreneur

Recently I was the guest for an online forum in which we were discussing what it takes to be an Entrepreneur. I actually launched my discussion with the idea that I don’t know it all. I do believe that at some point we have to acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers. This is why I believe in using coaches, mentors and consultants where needed. I believe there is great wisdom in recognizing when you need help. Beyond this nugget of wisdom there is one more thought I offered. When you decide to start a business you step up to the idea that you will do anything to make your dreams come true. I posed the question – Would YOU do anything to make your dreams come true? Business is fickle. I say this with a strong voice of experience. When you own a business you will have to work long, hard hours to make that dream come true. Sometimes you will wonder what in the world you got yourself into.More importantly, you will make sacrifices. Sometimes when business is going as well as you had hoped you might need to look for other means of making income while your working on growing your business. Sometimes you clean toilets. There has been a time in the more recent past when I’ve had to do that very thing. Business has been anemic since 2007. With the lack of opportunities presenting themselves, I took to the task of working with a friends janitorial company. I was, very much cleaning toilets at night in a factory. I could be proud and hide this information, but I am not. I had to make money and my friend needed help. Cleaning toilets at night in a factory was actually a blessing in disguise. I had a lot of time to think and process what my next move would be. It was a time of very hard work and sleepless nights – but I believe it was an honorable thing to do. You see, many times as entrepreneurs we want to hide our failures and setbacks. I believe this actually does a lot of harm to the family of Entrepreneurs. In fact, most really successful people have failed, stood up, wiped themselves off and tried again. Honestly, I’ve had success – I’ve spoken to crowded rooms of important people, I’ve published two books and I’ve traveled a bit… but I’ve also failed. The one constant – I don’t give up. I recently told a colleague I am too stupid to give up! He laughed… The truth is – I don’t know how to give up. It’s not part of who I am. I hope this little rambling note will somehow inspire you to keep going. Yes, you might need to clean a toilet, sweep a street, flip a burger or deliver a pizza… but in the end what you are doing is working on your dreams – Don’t give up. Keep going – even when you’re cleaning a toilet.


Dr. Philip A. Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic PIC3Leadership. He is a prolific writer, published author and lectures internationally. His most recent book “The Open Organization” is now available through Ashgate Publishing.  Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching and serves as Adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN. He is the Founder and CEO of Maximum Change Leadership and Business Consulting, serving clients from around the world. He is a Doctor of Strategic Leadership with emphasis in Strategic Foresight and holds a Master of Art in Organizational Leadership, both from Regent University, Virginia. He can be reached at or (615) 216-5667.