The “Entrepreneurial Dream” They’re Selling You is a Lie

Take my word for it — I’ve built my dream career from the ground-up, and there are no prancing, magical unicorns dancing in my office on the daily.

Gillian Sisley
May 6, 2019 · 5 min read
Photo by Matt Lamers on Unsplash

I have a real bone to pick with any entrepreneur who blows up their Instagram feed with trips abroad, laptops on the beach and private jets with a glass of champagne.

Now, I’m no cynic — I’m actually a thoroughly-bred optimist, and I see every single day of my life as a new blessing, and feel blessed even more so when I consider that I get to make my full-time income from the comfort of my home office, while working solo in my social media and copywriting company.

I’m three years into the game. I’ve had every high and low of entrepreneurship you’ve heard of — with the exception of claiming bankruptcy or making a cold, crisp million dollahs.

But there are entrepreneurs out there who have experienced the pieces I have not— and more often than not they’re the ones on social media preaching the “good life” of running a business and being stinking rich.

If I could stand next to them, I would make a simple request:

The real problem with over-glamorizing the entrepreneurial journey.

By using these glamorized filters and talking about all the sh*t you’ve acquired since your business succeeded, you’re sending a false message to aspiring entrepreneurs.

You’re sugar-coating the process with your flashy cars and all of that other crap that really has nothing to do with actually running a business.

Yes, you have earned these things. You have worked your butt off.

Hell, so have I — I have mad respect for you for making this thing work because I know exactly how much work it takes to make that a reality.

But while you’re flashing your Porche in a Snapchat story, consider what message you’re sending to your viewers.

Within 9 months of running my own business, I purchased a 3-bedroom semi in the suburbs, with a white picket fence and all that jazz. I even have a 2-door Honda Civic Coupe in my driveway.

Will you see me post about these things on Instagram with a flashy filter? No.


Because while these are true testaments to the hard work I’ve done and the rewards I have achieved for said hard work, they do not show anyone anything practical or useful if they’re an aspiring entrepreneur trying to learn a nugget of insight from me.

There is no lesson to be learned by looking at a photo of my house from across the street. There is no infinite wisdom to be found in a shot of me leaning against the side of my white Honda (who is endearingly named Wendy).

The real value exists in my ability to be vulnerable and transparent about my struggles, successes and practical logistics of my business which led to my success today.

That’s the truth I prefer to show. Because it’s the truth which exists 90% of the time in this crazy rollercoaster ride known as “the hustle”.

Painting a realistic picture will set more aspiring entrepreneurs up for success.

If we really care about inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs, we need to offer a transparent and realistic look at what this career choice really means.

I don’t know about you, but I want to see other young people like me create for themselves the work that fulfills them, and I want to see them thrive while doing it.

That means getting down to the nitty-gritty of logistics, giving practical numbers, and being transparent about our most valuable lessons of all — our failures.

Failures carry a story rich with wisdom — “do not do as I did” is an effective way to help mentor others in the right direction.

Yes, they have to find that right direction for themselves. No, it will not look exactly like our own journies did.

Entrepreneurship is about the hustle, full stop.

Hi, aspiring entrepreneurs — can we get real for a second?

As a service-based business owner, I have an ever-present reality looming in the air — my work is entirely active, and if I don’t work, I don’t get paid.

Honest-to-God truth? That flashy lifestyle you see that the 1% of Instagram influencers are living? Both you and I are unlikely to achieve that.

  1. The odds are simply not in our favor, and,
  2. Once you get to the grind, you’re going to be dumbfounded by how much work it actually takes just to make an honest living/a respectable salary from your hustle

No, it’s not immediate rags-to-riches in most cases.

More often than not, it’s decades of troubleshooting, hustling and being incomprehensibly flexible which helps you find some semblance of success in your own gig eventually.

Entrepreneurship can be exciting, but more often than not it’s boring. It’s mundane. That’s the reality of things 90% of the time.

No, you’ll not likely be working off of your phone from a private jet. No, no. More likely, you’ll be hunched over your laptop for 8+ hours per day grinding away with your nose to the asphalt.

Scrapes and cuts, maybe even fatal wounds, are a guarantee in this line of work.

Final word.

That is what entrepreneurship actually looks like.

And if that image doesn’t inspire or give you a rush of adrenaline, then this is not a career path for you.

Quit while you’re ahead, because that’s the honest truth.

Envisioning a flashy car or luxurious trips abroad will not be enough to keep you going at 2 am or clocking those 12 hour days with little compensation for a year straight.

What you need are not visions of luxury to drive you — you require grit, iron-clad will and perseverance to succeed in this temperamental and difficult landscape that is the entrepreneurial journey.

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Gillian Sisley

Written by

Online solopreneur. Tea drinker. Committed optimist. I write about womanhood, writing & entrepreneurship. Never miss a single beat 👉

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +724K followers.

Gillian Sisley

Written by

Online solopreneur. Tea drinker. Committed optimist. I write about womanhood, writing & entrepreneurship. Never miss a single beat 👉

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +724K followers.

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