Renowned entrepreneur and founder of Vayner Media, Gary Vee, once said, “I eat sh*t for a living,” and he hilariously summed up what it really means to be an entrepreneur. In fact, most business people and entrepreneurs will tell you it’s borderline insane to be an entrepreneur.
In an interview with Fortune magazine, Steve Blank, author and entrepreneur, straight out said founders are crazy: “As it turns out most of the time, (founders) are actually hallucinating, and every once in a while they’re actually visionaries. They are insanely driven to bring that thing they see to fruition. And they need to be because of the amount of travails they go through in making something out of nothing. Founders create on a blank canvas; founders are closer to artists than they are to engineers or business people. They make things happen. And they need this perseverance and tenacity and resilience to drive them through those obstacles, because rationally, it would make a lot more sense to just exchange your labor for money.”
Sure, there are massive rewards to starting your own business; innovating, controlling your own schedule, impacting people’s lives, potentially changing the world, living your dreams, and making a ton of money. There are also non-glamorous downsides that people don’t want to talk about; the endless grind, exhaustion, failure, being broke, suffering relationships, anxiety, frustration, and the list goes on. If you’re looking to start your own business or are currently in the trenches, here are just a few harsh realities of being an entrepreneur.
Some People Will Not “Get” You
Like anything else, some people simply won’t understand you. Maintaining relationships becomes harder, especially romantic ones. Any free time you have you’re usually trying to get more work done or your head is in another place thinking about how to move your business forward. It can become too easy to detach from personal relationships. Your business can become an obsession and many people can’t handle your preoccupation with work. However, your real friends, fellow entrepreneurs, and the people who truly understand you will get it and let you do your thing. It’s no mystery why entrepreneurs tend to gravitate toward each other; there’s a mutual understanding and camaraderie there that can be hard to find elsewhere.
Sleeping “Well” is a Pipe Dream
Excuse me, what is “sleeping well?” I don’t know a single entrepreneur who is “well rested.” Most of us are lucky to sleep 4 hours straight without waking up mid-slumber with some sort of Eureka! moment or just plain work anxiety.
Your To-Do List is Never Done
There’s no wrapping up things on Friday and unplugging for the weekend. You’re. Always. On. There is no such thing as having a traditional “vacation” or email auto responder that says you’re “out of the office.” When you manage to take some “leisure” time it’s really just work and pleasure mixed. Which is fine, because the great thing about having your own business is controlling your own schedule. I’ve taken work calls from ski lifts before; it’s just what you do.
You’re Probably a Little Quirky
I’m yet to meet a traditionally “normal” entrepreneur. After all, you have to be a little crazy to dive into the entrepreneurial journey to begin with. I’m not talking about the people who tried to start a business for 6 months or a year and then went back to the corporate world; I’m talking about the do-or-die lifelong entrepreneurs who have spent most of their lives in the grind. I’ve never met a normal one, but it takes that level of madness to even want to be an entrepreneur to begin with, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
The Burnout is Real
Staying motivated and inspired can be one of the biggest challenges. Especially if you’re working your tail off and not seeing revenue or results. In short, it can be utterly exhausting, day in and day out, but oddly many of us thrive on that challenge and find a way to push forward regardless.
You’re Going To Fail
It could be a small failure or it could be a big failure, either way you’re going to fail at some point. It comes with the territory. An integral part of being an entrepreneur is riding out the highs and lows. It’s an absolute roller coaster, but you have to stay on the ride no matter what in order to succeed.
…Yet Somehow We Wouldn’t Have it Any Other Way
As challenging (and traumatizing?) being an entrepreneur can be, most of us wouldn’t have it any other way. Most entrepreneurs I know thrive off the discomfort, challenge, and grind -anything less would be too boring and predictable. Entrepreneurs, by nature, are risk takers and throwing caution to the wind to bet on a business that could very well fail is one of the most exhilarating journeys of all.