If you think you are going to be free, think again…
One of the reasons to start their own business is to be free and have autonomy. There’s a higher possibility of ancient myths being true…
This is one of the most ridiculous myths I have encountered in my conversations with aspiring entrepreneurs. (One who have started and are running their business will never ever support this myth based on their experiences.) Most people believe that running one’s own business will give them flexibility, freedom and autonomy to do what they like and when they like it. I can see why they think that way — from the outside, you generally don’t see the business-person doing much, do you?
Entrepreneurship does exactly the opposite. It steals away from you, your freedom, flexibility and autonomy. No longer are you a slave to your employers, but to yourself, your employees, your customers, your partners and your investors. Let me explain how.
Running a business, especially at an early stage when you do not have an army of employees or many resources at hand, you have to do it all yourself (or with your co-founding team) with the limited money, time and assets that you may have. And the problem is that if you do not do it, no one else will. This is not like doing a job within a team of a big organization, where someone else will be there to pick up your slack. It is also not a place where you can choose what responsibilities you would like to undertake or when to execute them.
Everything is important and nothing is excluded from the set of your responsibilities.
In a startup, your startup, there is only you (and your trusted partner(s)) to do what is necessary to be done. And if you have segregated the responsibilities based on each partners skills and strengths, then, chances are you are the only one who can do the job at hand. And all of it needs to be done now. Your freedom is, for all practical purposes, sold to your company and its operations.
You may have a team, and if you do, that’s great news when it comes to sharing responsibilities and tasks, but having employees adds new burdens. You have to make sure that you can pay them at the end of every month, or do enough to make their part of the stocks valuable. Which means, you cannot slack off even if you wanted to. (If you are the one to take vacations and day offs on regular intervals, you are not going to far ahead in your venture.)
Additionally, as a leader of the organization, you have to lead by example. That means you have to work hard to set the bar high and expect it to be there. If you want your employees to finish their work on time, you have to finish yours before time. If you want them to think creatively, you have to display out-of-box thinking. If you want them to come on time, you have to make sure they see your face at your desk when they do walk in on-time.
As a leader, you do not have much flexibility for error or mistakes. That doesn’t mean you can’t make one, but your wiggle room isn’t as much as you’d like it to be.
Next, the customers will demand the best from you. Keeping aside the discussions on the value of a customer, cost-benefit analysis and radians to bend backwards for them, they are not wrong in expecting the best out of you. And at no point, can you tell them that you are taking a day off (in the middle of their crisis), that you have other tasks to complete before you attend to them, or that they just have to live with the faulty product.
If you want to compete with the myriad other startups and established companies in your space, you are technically on-call 24/7 as a part of your customer service. That doesn’t sound like freedom and flexibility, does it?
And finally, the one who puts in the money has the biggest voice. Yes, there are terms and conditions laid down in the agreement, but are you going to flash an agreement on the investor’s face when he questions your intent and actions, or when he demands that you work harder or smarter to make sure that his investment (your company) is going to perform better?
With investors, you can have three types — the silent passenger snoozing in the back seat, the co-passenger with a map telling you when to make your turns, or the one who grabs the wheel and takes over. There’s no need to explain each of these, or which investor is the best for you, but, if you are an early stage, you live with the lemons you are dealt.
Investors rarely take the wheel or try to navigate, and when they do, it’s because they don’t trust the person at the wheel, i.e., you (or your co-founder). As an entrepreneur, you have to make sure that the investor never loses confidence in you, which means, at times, you may not get to do what you want to do. That’s loss of autonomy (to a degree).
So, dream all you want because there’s no way, as long as you are in a business that you will ever truly be free.
In a business, you work for everyone including yourself and not just for a boss. You have endless responsibilities and not just the ones assigned to you. And if you fail, you don’t just put a small dent in things, you literally smash it to smithereens. There is no freedom, no flexibility and very little autonomy as an entrepreneur.
Let me know your views on this subject. Do you agree or disagree? Do you have personal stories to share? Go ahead, use the comments section below. Have a nice day.