Entrepreneurship: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
When aspiring entrepreneurs think of the field they’re stepping into, it’s often the glamorous San Francisco/Williamsburg/Silicon Valley startup offices equipped with their own napping pods (thanks, Google). While that’s all jolly and good, the reality of entrepreneurship is something most millennials have become deeply desensitized to, and therefore don’t pay it the necessary consideration it deserves.
Let’s get real — starting your own business is by no means easy.
Even if you’re that one in one million (of the one percent) who’s fortunate enough to have a small nest egg starting out, the pushback is an integral part of breaking into the entrepreneurial sphere that you’re going to experience. As entrepreneurs, we find a need, and we satisfy that need with innovative methods, goods, or services that none have thought of before. You need to be quick, intuitive, and determined, because this business is sure to take a lot out of you.
So, now you might be asking yourself, is there anything good about what I’m taking on? I promise, there is! As with any professional career, becoming an entrepreneur is tough work. Whether it’s the multiple investment rounds, slimming down your business to be “lean,” or answering to your investors regarding why X, Y, and Z went wrong. Still, the rewards can outweigh the risk.
Let’s break down the good, the bad, and the ugly, shall we?
The best part about becoming an entrepreneur has to be the lifestyle. Looking at 40 hours of the week that need to be filled, rather than looking at a task and getting it done, is an unhealthy way to live your life. If time remains a constant, and tasks are the variable, then what’s the incentive to work through the task? In this scenario, time is generally equal to wages. Being an entrepreneur is totally different. You might work 12 hours in a day with only 2 hours that you actually get paid for. However, the feeling you get for completing the task you set out to do, at your own pace, and by your own methods, can be incredibly rewarding.
There’s also the sense of adventure. The excitement of walking into the unknown. Implementing ideas into reality in the face of risk is always challenging. Entrepreneurship in and of itself is an adventure. From the first steps of building your business model, to invoicing your clients, to actually getting paid, managing cash flow, seeking venture capitalism and pitching an idea. Whatever it may be, whatever the course, the adventure will always be there for you. Most startups fail. So, the adventure doesn’t always have a happy ending but it’s not the happy ending you should yearn for, it’s the adventure.
The chance to be your own boss, making the decisions, and seeing something that you built grow, is highly attractive. Most millennials wonder how they’ll leave their mark on the world, often dreaming of a high office, or public service. Becoming an entrepreneur can afford you that opportunity to build a legacy. Just look at Mark from Facebook, or Sergey and Larry from Google — they’ve built multi-billion-dollar empires whose names are synonymous with entrepreneurial success. They saw a need, and they satisfied that need, to monumental success.
You never know what to expect when you become an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is not your typical 9–5 job. You will be constantly kept on your toes with varying challenges each and every day, so if you’re the type of person who fancies the occasional test of mental fortitude, then this is definitely the career for you.
If there’s one thing every small business owner has, it’s self discipline. It’s one thing to have talent, but it’s another to have work ethics and the discipline to wake yourself up every morning at 5 AM and work until 11 PM day after day with no guarantee of a reward. Entrepreneurship affords you the opportunity to develop that trait, to be used to your advantage in all aspects of life, whether it’s in your business or elsewhere.
Why do people head straight for an established career? Why is college such an important part of most people’s “Five-Year Plan?” It’s simple — financial security. Nowadays, prospects who enter fields that previously didn’t require a post-secondary education or certification are finding it increasingly difficult to gain an advantage over their peers. That’s where the desire for a bachelor’s degree comes in. And why go for a bachelor’s degree? To guarantee that no matter where you go, which office you step into, you’ve got your degree under your belt to support you. This leads to secure and stable income. However, entrepreneurship comes with no such guarantee.
Also, there can be a certain level of ego that comes along with being an entrepreneur. You are the head honcho. You make all of the tough calls. You get to decide who gets bonuses, and who gets cut. It can be terribly easy to go off into the weeds and get lost, and it can be incredibly tempting to just take days off, because who’s going to tell you “no?”
Let’s face it — if you’re going to start your own business, your daily schedule won’t be the same as the 9-to-5ers. You’ll put in way more hours each week than anyone else you know, so you’d better be passionate about what you’re doing! Be sure to get a stress test done, because starting and running your own business isn’t a cake walk. Also, don’t expect a constant cash flow, my friend. It can take time. Being an entrepreneur isn’t for the faint of heart, and if you aren’t careful, you could become jaded and lose your sense of wonder in the world. Enduring years when paychecks are few and far between is not unheard of.
The Light at the End of the Tunnel
Don’t let this article discourage you. These are just realities to keep in mind. If you’re passionate about something, go for it. Do or do not — there is no try.