How many of us dream of being a big-shot CEO with all the pay and perks that go with the corner office? Or better still, starting and running our own company. Wouldn't that be sweet?
Well, I hate to burst your dream bubble, but being an entrepreneur isn't all it's cracked up to be. Sure, if you're cut out for it, maybe you'll survive the pressure and overcome the many challenges. But if you're not, and most of us aren't, I wouldn't quit my day job just yet.
Before we get into all those aforementioned challenges, I'd be remiss if I didn't at least pay homage to the perceived benefits of becoming an entrepreneur:
- Being your own boss and not having to kowtow to anyone;
- Doing what you want, when you want;
- Escape from the stress of corporate life;
- A shorter and more personal feedback loop; and
- The unique fulfillment that comes from building something from the ground up, more or less on your own.
So what's not to like about that, right? Well, I used the term "perceived benefits" for a very good reason. The truth is that entrepreneurial life is nothing like any of that. In fact, all those benefits are, to a great extent, myths. Let's take them one at a time.
5 Myths About Becoming an Entrepreneur
Being your own boss and not having to kowtow to anyone. There's no shortage of bosses and people you have to kowtow to when you're an entrepreneur. Depending on your situation, there are investors, customers, partners, and here's one that nobody ever anticipates, your spouse. That's right, once the steady paychecks stop, the spouse becomes all-too-engaged.
Doing what you want, when you want. Sure, you may get to keep your own hours, more or less, but even that changes soon enough. If you're successful, you've got to keep up with business, and if you're not, you've got to work that much harder to change that. And since it's your gig, there's no fallback position. If you don't do it, who will?
Escape from the stress of corporate life. Here's a little secret: we make our own workplace stress. In other words, we take it with us wherever we go. That's what surprised me the most about going it alone. Sure, there are always workplace specific stresses and headaches, but you're just trading the corporate ones for those of an entrepreneur. They're different, but not necessarily better or worse.
A shorter and more personal feedback loop. Actually, it's just the opposite. At work you're presumably getting feedback on a pretty regular basis. There are projects, tasks, and all that good stuff. But the gestation time for a startup business is relatively long. You very quickly come to realize that nothing much matters until the dough starts rolling in, and that could be a very long time. Okay, it is personal, but that's both good and bad. How well do you handle rejection?
The unique fulfillment that comes from building something from the ground up. Yes, it's different, but honestly, the sense of accomplishment is really no better or worse than what you get from doing the same thing at someone else's company, whether it's building a team, developing a product, or servicing customers.
A wise VC once said, "there are entrepreneurs and there are Entrepreneurs!" Don't get me wrong. If there's something burning inside you; something you feel like you've got to do or you'll burst; and you're resilient, thick skinned, the sort of person who carves his own path; then go for it. You won't be disappointed. But you'll also be better off if you keep your expectations grounded somewhere in the realm of reality.