I studied business and finance in college and like any optimistic kid from small-town America, I had my sights set on Wall Street. Bright lights. Big city… where dreams are made of, the lights will inspire you… New York. Corporate America, working for “the man,” those were things that got me excited. While I didn’t end up in NYC, I did land a job working at a large national company as a financial controller. I had it all – a great salary, expense account, and an assistant. But it wasn’t enough. I was bored. I felt trapped. Working for the man wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. I didn’t want the corporate credit card handed to me. I wanted to earn it. I didn’t want to follow someone else’s established way of thinking. I wanted to make my own rules. I had been put into a tiny box and I had a decision to make – climb the corporate ladder and hope to earn an equity stake 30 years down the road, or get out. I had a burning desire to do more, be more, create more, grow more. So, I quit.
And just like that I was an Entrepreneur (or unemployed, depending on how you want to look at it).
I hadn’t been working any side hustle. I didn’t have a nest egg. I took a leap of faith and never looked back.
Being an Entrepreneur is a sexy thing to do these days. Shark Tank has popularized the art of the pitch, everyone and their mother (literally) has a GoFundMe page for their latest project, and if one more of my friends asks me to buy a nutrition supplement I’m going to… Okay, don’t get me wrong, I respect the hell out of what these people are trying to do. They’ve got goals and they are going after them. But how long do these people last? A couple weeks? Maybe a year while the product goes to market and if it doesn’t sell, they’re done? Are they building a business or working on a passion project? Yes, it is possible and preferable for the business to be building to also be your passion, but it’s not always the case. And while this may not be a popular opinion, not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur or to build a business. They’re just not. And that’s okay! Be true to who you are and stop chasing what’s cool right now. Because ten years from now, maybe the sexy thing to do will be to study and work in a technical field and you’ll be kicking yourself for not following your dream of becoming a dental hygienist.
Being an Entrepreneur isn’t all perfectly curated Instagram photos and working from your home office overlooking the beach. Sure, that can be a part of it if you want, but if that’s why you’re doing this whole entrepreneurship thing then it’s probably not really for you. I would suggest you go work as a social media strategist for an entrepreneur!
You will not always love your business, at times you will hate it. Your business isn’t something you can dabble in on the weekends or pick up work on when you’re feeling inspired. When you are building your business it is hard, it is all consuming, it is long days and even longer nights, it is pain, it is struggle, it is sacrifice, and if you do it right, it will be the greatest thing you’ve ever done.
Still want to be an entrepreneur? Here are five things you should think about before you take the leap.
- What are you willing to sacrifice? Are you willing to give up nights out with your friends? Are you willing to give up Sunday brunch with your girlfriend? Are you willing to give up a paycheck for weeks, months, even years? Are you willing to sacrifice sleep? Are you willing to give up relationships? There will be people in your life who don’t understand what or why you are building this thing – and they will try to tear you down.
- How long are you willing to fail? We always talk about failing forward. But here’s the catch – you actually have to FAIL! And be okay with it because the faster you fail, the faster you learn and grow! If failure’s not for you, then you may want to rethink being an entrepreneur.
- Why do you want to be an entrepreneur? Ego may get you started. The $$$$ may get you motivated. But neither one will get you through the dark nights when you are questioning every decision you’ve made and whether or not you should keep going or shut down the whole operation. Your purpose (yes, your passion) has got to be bigger than you, your ego, and your bank account. Dig deep and really determine why you want to build a business.
- Will your family be involved in the business? Many entrepreneurs and small business owners keep it in the family. It can be amazing (and cheap) or it can go horribly wrong. Do whatever works for you, but figure out who will be involved in the business and why. Is it because you’re doing Cousin John a favor or is it because Cousin John is a kick-ass sales professional? Choose wisely and set boundaries. If you are thinking about working with your spouse, set very clear boundaries between work and home and more importantly between what roles you are each taking on in the business. There can be too many cooks in the kitchen (at home and at the office).
- Do you want to be self-employed or do you want to build a business? What’s the difference between being self-employed and building a business? Let me give you an example: You’re self-employed when you own a coffee shop, manage the coffee, shop, open the coffee shop, do marketing for the coffee shop, make the coffee, etc. Essentially you control your schedule, it’s your baby, but you have a job. Being a business owner means you own the coffee shop, lead the vision for the coffee shop, hire someone to manage the coffee shop and open additional coffee shops in the region, and make the coffee, only if you really want to. Basically, you don’t have a “job”, you are removed from the day to day operations, and you only insert yourself in the business when and where you want to. Both can be extremely fulfilling, you just need to decide what’s right for you and for your vision of why you wanted to be an entrepreneur in the first place.
Are you an entrepreneur or have dreams of being one? Where are you at in your business journey? How many times have you failed and kept going? I would love to hear from you. Share your entrepreneurship story in the comments!