Entrepreneurship has certainly been on the upswing in the past decade. It is a core tenet of capitalism and one of the reason that the U.S. has over 18 million millionaires. Brought more into the spotlight by athletes, rappers and other musicians, and other non-business people, the idea of owning a business or an app or a popular winery or distilled spirit is a huge draw for many. The problem is, many get into the world of entrepreneurship for the glitz and glamour of it.
Newsflash…it ain’t easy.
Ask any real entrepreneur how difficult it is. This life is lonely, stressful, and requires your attention at all times if you are going to be a real part of the process. If you are just writing a check to someone to fund a project, you are an angel investor, not an entrepreneur. Don’t you dare diminish the struggle that real players in the game go through by standing on the sidelines like a college booster that helps fund the team. It’s not the same. Until you lie awake at night stressing about how you are going to cover payroll on Friday, or pay for the inventory shipment that is on its way, you haven’t even stepped onto the field.
Because we are connected to the world at all times through our phones, we see nearly every success story that happens. It used to be if someone the next town over hit it big, you’d eventually hear about through a friend. Today, everything that happens is played out over social media in real time. We know all of the successes, at least the highly polished version that is displayed on Insta and other places. And we as a society are quick to jump on the failures of others, blowing up near misses, total blunders, and all of the personal details that go along with it. The standards that are being set are way too high, unattainable for nearly all. Let me make this clear:
You do not have to create a billion dollar company or exist out of a venture to “win”.
Everyone has a different definition of “winning”, but I think it is way to skewed towards money at all costs. Here’s a thought: Aim for Happiness. As Gary Vaynerchuk has been shouting from the treetops about, strive to be happy–> yourdefinition of happy. If that means making $60,000 and never missing your kid’s soccer games, that is great. If it means pulling in millions and buying your own private island somewhere, that’s okay too. But what he cautions about, and I completely agree, is to ask yourself: why? Do I want this because I really want this for my myself and my family? Or does my ego want this because it will put me in the cool kids club like I see on social media? Any time you are doing something with the wrong motivation, you are FAR more likely to fail. You won’t have the same intestinal fortitude to get through the really tough times. Think about it this way, if you were homeless, and the only way you and your family is going to have anything to eat in the next few days is if you go stand on the street corner with a sign. It won’t matter if it is raining, snowing, or sweltering hot, your ass is gonna be at that intersection. It is survival mode. THAT is motivation. If you are struggling at something because it will make you lots of money, or famous, your ego is going to give out long before your will to survive will.
Again, I agree with Gary Vee, it is time for a reset. We have to start setting our own definitions of happiness, contentment, and life goals. Because of my day job, I know lots of people who are entrepreneurs; some of them love it and some of them are in it only to exit and cash out. It is no secret which ones are the happiest. If you are doing something you love, even the difficult parts of, and your name being on the door gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment, are you winning. If you are looking to build something up only to sell it and run, the end result may in fact be what you want, but the process could very well be miserable. I am not saying you shouldn’t do something just because it is going to be a hard road, but keep in mind that life is short, and work is only part of it.
If you want to get into the game of entrepreneurship, I encourage you to really stop and consider what you are undertaking. If you have the financial means to back the project yourself, better do some real close analysis of the money you have and what you’re going to live on while you build this company. Is your family and spouse on board? Do you have a safety net in case this does not become profitable as fast as you predict? Or at all? I know the common thought process is “Go all in”, and that sounds great, until the shit hits the fan. If you haven’t laid out an escape plan, you are setting yourself up for a huge amount of stress and anxiety that has broken many a person. Marriages fail, relationship with children suffer, and you will age at three times the normal rate (my opinion, not a scientific fact). Do you have enough money to not take a paycheck for a year? Three? Plan for the worst and hope for better; don’t be naive thinking that your spreadsheet has all of the answers. There are ALWAYS problems, snags, delays, and lots of other unforeseen issues. Here would be some suggestions for things to explore:
The market (or my city, state, etc.) has a need/desire for what I am creating.
There is minimal competition OR my product/service has a significant difference/advantage over what is currently out there?
I can create need or desire for my product BEFORE we scale the company?
I have enough funding for this project for business operations for three years.
I can live without a paycheck for three years?
If my idea from a former employer or competitor, am I open to a lawsuit?
These are just a few of the very basic things you as a non-rich celebrity would need to consider before launching an entrepreneurial venture. Without having a recognizable name in the world, you are starting from scratch. And even this advantage only goes so far; many a famous athlete has opened a chain of steak houses or other venture, only to find themselves filing bankruptcy just a few years later. So much for that $50 million dollar contract you earned as a football player.
I am not trying to talk you out of this venture. What I am trying to do is talk some sense into you AHEAD of you starting down this path. Don’t think you are smart enough to figure everything out along the way, you won’t make it. I learned that the hard way, and I am trying to save you the same difficult experiences I had. It was brutal at times, to the tune of me throwing up in the shower a bunch of times to start my day. Yeah, that level of stress. So, be prepared as best you can BEFORE you start, and go in with your eyes wide open. As an entrepreneur you are the CEO, CFO, COO, HR Manager, and every other title in the company when you start. As you grow, your job is to replace yourself in each of these roles with qualified people, and spend more and more of your focus working ON the business instead of IN the business. But first things first, you need to get profitable as soon as possible before any of that matters.
Grab a helmet and get on the field if you have the chops to do it.