I am a horrible employee. It's not my fault. I blame a decade of stripping.
Just the thought of giving someone sixty-plus hours of my life for what employers are willing to pay doesn't make sense to me. I don't think that working a job is bad. Predictable income and health benefits are nothing to turn one's nose up at. I just know that for me, being an entrepreneur is good and it never crossed my mind that I could even be one until I started dancing.
Strippers are, in essence, independent contractors. Many of the skills it took to be successful as a dancer are the same skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur. I could fill an entire book about the life skills I learned as a stripper that I still use to win in life today. In fact, I did.
Here are 5 of the ways that stripping specifically prepared me for a life of entrepreneurial adventure.
1.Take Risks & Take Action
No one risk-averse can be a successful entrepreneur and being a stripper was a big risk. It could have destroyed my biggest goal of being a professional performer, in my mind. There was a chance that I'd never be taken seriously if people found out I was a stripper; I could be shunned. However, taking that risk allowed me to earn the income I needed to build a residual earning income stream. I heavily depend on this stream of income to this day. This risk allowed me to pursue it without making a cent for two years.
Jumping into action and taking risks is what strippers do every single night. We have to somehow devise whether to go in for the sale right away or let the connection simmer and soft sell; the latter kills the precious time of your shift. If it works out, it was worth it, but other times, all it nets is wasted time. The only way to know which way it will go is to take the risk. As an entrepreneur, there is no time for endless stalling by trying to gain perfection. Every night strippers and sex workers of all forms take risks on many personal and professional levels. Therefore, in life and entrepreneurship, stripping gave plenty of practice in taking the calculated risk.
As a teen actor, I once had an agent say, "Confidence books!" as I headed out to an audition. I booked that job. I always kept this in the back of my mind. Spiritual and mental survival in a strip club takes an unwavering belief in oneself. Any of us would be hard-pressed to find a successful entrepreneur that is not confident. Entrepreneurship takes an absolute belief in ourselves or our products.
Anything that brings growth, is initially uncomfortable. Asking person after person for 6-12 hours a night in 8-inch heels takes the ability to be unshaken no matter what is said to you, no matter who likes you, no matter who insults you, no matter who finds you horrific, no matter who compliments you, no matter who thinks you're the hottest one in the club. This is a transferable skill useful in many facets of life. Suffice it to say, making an income in a strip club is heavily incumbent upon self-confidence and feeling worthy. Stripping is insufferable otherwise.
Entrepreneurs work way more than 9 am - 5 pm. In fact, it's easy for entrepreneurs to work until the point of burnout. Stripping is more mentally taxing than it is physically taxing. Time-off should be mandatory in any profession. As a dancer, I could work as many or as few days as I wished. There were weeks I worked 6 days, there were weeks I worked 2 days. Or I'd work 10 days in a row. No matter what, I made time to go on vacation every quarter.
Time off, time to decompress, time to commune with silence, time to do nothing is just as important as time grinding (pun intended). Entrepreneurs benefit from time-off just as much as they do from hustling hard. Amazing ideas happen during time off. Solutions present themselves during time off. The habit of taking time off helps me be a better entrepreneur because entrepreneurs never know what will be thrown at them from day-to-day.
A peaceful mind focuses better on the important tasks at hand. Every fire isn't a cause for annoyance. Being calm enough to shake off a challenge and get to the solution is priceless. Taking time off allows for this ability to strengthen. Grind culture and the "sleep when I die" mentality will kill us. Taking time off is like closing all the tabs on our computers and plugging into the charger, except within our own minds.
Nothing grinds my gears more than knowing how many women are uncomfortable asking for their full price, full value, full worth. I am eternally thankful for my experiences on strip club floors negotiating money. I got really comfortable talking about money, whereas society says the topic is gauche. One of my favorite on the floor negotiations were getting customers to pay for your time on the floor. They avoid all the extra room fees. We still make the same. Win-Win!
There was no way for us to avoid talking about money. It's part of the gig. Either you get really comfortable asking for money or you find another gig. That stomach curling feeling of discomfort when a conversation about pay arises has got to go. Many entrepreneurs do their own negotiating, initially. Until you get large enough to have reps, you need to be able to ask for your worth. Not doing so affects the quality of work you are able to do. I replaced five jobs with one that made more than all five combined.
Imagine doing one thing that pays you well versus having to make up for low costs in volume aka running all over the place. It's insanity. Ask for what you need so that you can provide the best experience for your clients. It's a win-win. Working below your value is not a win for anyone involved. Neither you nor your clients get the best of you when you undercharge.
5.Follow Up, Follow Thru
Do what you silently say to yourself you're going to do. It's like having the manners to tell yourself you're not going to make the meeting. The more you keep the silent promises you make to yourself, the more confidence you build in yourself. It spills out into many facets of life. A decade of hearing: Come back later. Maybe later. Waiting for the Blonde (that's a whole other article). It doesn't matter if I hear "no". In fact, dealing with me you should say "no" because my happy-go-lucky self will keep on coming back until you either say "yes" or pay me to go away.
Taking that kind of follow up into business dealings leads to success. We live in an "I'll text you tomorrow," versus a "Let's meet at 4 pm on Wednesday," world. Something as simple as following through puts you out ahead of the herd. Start with yourself first. Then inbox me on IG and tell me how it went.
From the outside looking in, it's very easy to incorrectly assess what is actually going on in strip clubs. Humans have a herd mentality that automatically go searching for social cues. We are great at being part of the herd. Strippers, ba! Got it. Herd accepted, behavior confirmed. As a society, we are not great at being the black sheep. Strippers, just human? Cue heads turning left and right to see what's acceptable. Could this be true? No.
However, on the edges beyond social cues is where the most growth happens and often faster than in the safety zone. Anyone who has worked in sales knows that it takes an incredible amount of self-development to win sales.
I once heard someone say "quotas are for people who don't make quotas". A stripping comparison to quotas would be house fees. House fees are the money strippers pay the club to "rent" the space as an independent contractor each shift. On the low-end, they can be $0-$60. On the high-end, it can cost $200-$300 a night to dance at a club. Similarly to quotas, high house fees are high to strippers who don't make much more after covering house fee costs. The scared and risk-averse dancers get weeded out. The macrocosm mimics the microcosm.
I was lucky that when I first began, a more experienced dancer taught me how to run dancing like a business. Goals were written down. The know-how to maneuver expenses with an unpredictable income was achieved. One of the biggest things that halt most potential entrepreneurs is fear of rejection. Keep learning with books like S.T.R.I.P.: A Stripper's 20 Life Winning Lessons to learn more skills.
With the skill of not fearing rejection alone, life as an entrepreneur is an easier pivot. And pivot you will as an entrepreneur. Gotta keep moving and asking for the proverbial next dance because shift time is a terrible thing to waste. And so is the time spent not applying these transferable skills to building up every entrepreneurial pursuit.