There’s something really sexy about the idea of being an entrepreneur. Why else would there be so many TV shows and publications dedicated to the pursuit?
But the reality of creating, building, and exiting businesses is often far from expectations. Endlessly inspired creativity sessions, constant deal making, investors throwing cash at your brilliant ideas… These may well form a part of the gig – sometimes.
But often an entrepreneur’s time can be hijacked by issues that require him or her to jump in the trenches and help out in getting sh#t done. Wearing a million different hats, troubleshooting a million different problems, placating a million different stakeholders, all with a million competing expectations… And often this happens for years without a single sign you’re on the right track, or without a great deal of personal remuneration.
Being an entrepreneur can be a mind-blowingly amazing experience. But it definitely requires sacrifices.
Below are five things you may need to give up on if want to succeed as an entrepreneur.
As the saying goes, “entrepreneurship is like jumping off a cliff and assembling a plane on the way down”. This couldn’t be more correct.
If every entrepreneur waited until they were completely sure of themselves, their offering, and their business model before launching their startup, no one would ever launch in the first place. And because startups are often formed in response to a newly identified demand, getting stuck by “analysis paralysis” can leave the door firmly open to anyone able to swoop in and more quickly meet said demand.
So, if you’re the type who thinks jumping off a cliff and building an empire as you freefall is a fun way to spend a few years of your life, by all means, register that business name. If not, perhaps the entrepreneur life is not for you.
Building a successful startup means relinquishing control in oh-so-many ways.
Entrepreneurs cannot do it all. Rapid scalability calls for delegation and absolute trust in the ability of your team. If you have micro-managing tendencies, you simply won’t grow at the rate needed for mass adoption.
Almost every entrepreneur will also need to pivot to some degree. Many former startups are now miles away from where they originally began: Twitter as a podcast directory, Pinterest as a mobile shopping app, and Android as an operating system for cameras. In this sense, entrepreneurs also need to let go of some control over the offering itself, and be guided by external feedback and shifting demand.
So, if you are able to close your eyes and hand over the reins to someone else who may just know better than you, the startup life may potentially work for you. But if your overwhelming desire is to maintain rigid control, perhaps middle management may be more your thing!
3. A paycheque
Oh, you thought being an entrepreneur was going to make you instantly rich? Well, this is going to be a little awkward…
Many entrepreneurs will need to suffer through a few hungry years before they truly receive any real financial payoff. This is not just the case if you are bootlegging: not too many investors will look favourably on their investment dollars going into your back pocket.
For many entrepreneurs, the adrenalin produced by the wild ride can provide enough sustenance in those early years. But if you’re averse to those hunger pains, it might be an idea to stay on your current payroll!
4. Thinking that being the boss makes you the boss
You may have “Founder” or “CEO” in your title, but you certainly won’t be a free agent once you become an entrepreneur.
Far from doing whatever they want, business owners are beholden to: customers, shareholders, employees (who may be working for equity and need results), investors, suppliers, and any other number of other stakeholders… In fact, sometimes you may feel far more shackled in handcuffs than when you had an actual boss breathing down your neck!
This is exactly the type of pressure that makes some people thrive and achieve the most amazing of results. But if you know you can’t or don’t want to take this heat, best to stay out of this particular kitchen.
You just won’t be sleeping. True story. And if you are, you’re probably not working hard enough.
But I’ll tell you a secret from one entrepreneur to another – the bags under the eyes are absolutely worth every second of the ride.
Good luck deciding if this life is right for you.
About the author
Clayton Howes is CEO and Co-Founder of MoneyMe Financial Group, a fintech startup disrupting the way consumer finance is delivered to Australian millennials.