I may be a lot of things, but I'm essentially a Capitalist. A Capitalist believes in nocturnal finance. The way you retire is to have your money work for you while you sleep. For many, that's a 401K, but for the small business owner, it's the exploitation of labor, to quote Marx. Most small business owners have little in savings, and I'm ashamed to say, I'm not an exception.
To be a Capitalist is to put your eggs in the nest of others, hoping they'll warm and nurture them in exchange for payment. It's also to accept the rightness of your willingness to work for others back in your day as a nest warmer. That's the main difference between my nest egg and the nest egg of an employee. Rather than relying on the numerical supremacy of an index fund, I let some kid in their 20's, with little nest sitting experience, sit on my valuable eggs. Hopefully you discover the cracks early enough.
This Capitalist egg sitting may seem to fly in the face of the general social welfare, but I believe we can work towards a more equitable society while insisting people take the initiative to improve their individual situation. Only a cretin truly believes there's a level playing field. The game is rigged. Sometimes it's rigged in my favor but most of the time, not so much. I like the game, but it is a system designed by the winners to keep them winning. I know we can fix the game with a well thought out expansion (with a lot more players), rather than tossing the game (an egg toss).
I vacuumed my million square feet to get to my exalted seat known as "the middle." If I can keep the balls in the air long enough, I may slowly recede from my business while others do the heavy lifting. Because I have a bad back from that heavy lifting and no workers comp insurance. If I can raise up, mentor, or at least pay well my employees along the way, I consider that a double victory. One manages a game store now. Another is head buyer at a major distributor. I am a stepping stone, so I can't take credit for their victories, but I hope we came together to build something wonderful that positively impacted their future.
All of this could come crashing down with a couple bad months. Perhaps I injure myself. I have key man business insurance if I die, but a good maiming? Not covered. Perhaps a national tragedy keeps people at home. A major Bay Area earthquake, long overdue, could eliminate my entire community in a moment. There is no backup plan, no unemployment, no explaining the situation to the boss. The vast majority of my nocturnal capital is tied up in worthless cardboard. Does this instability and painful chance of failure make the true socialist feel any better about my exploitation? Doubtful, but there it is.
The restless sleep of the nocturnal financier means you're never quite rested. I taught my young nephew the phrase, "I'll sleep when I'm dead!" It angered his mother, but it should be the mantra of the small business owner. No safety net. No rest. No real time away. The boss is a jerk. The customers are unreasonable. The employees are stealing. Your partners carry knives for the inevitable stab to the back. I can't imagine life any other way, and if I had to have my labor exploited again, if I had to mind someone else's eggs, I would be longing for the sleepless nights of the nocturnal financier.