The Ugly Truth About Entrepreneurship
By now we’ve all seen the luxurious lives of the rich and famous entrepreneurs on social media posing in front of their 6 figure cars and 7 figure estates sharing a brief glimpse into their “everyday life” as a way to persuade, I mean motivate, us into buying yet another one of their “get rich quick” programs. I don’t know about you but by the looks of it, entrepreneurship seems relatively easy in those 60-second clips. All we have to do is follow our passion, attend a couple of conferences, make a few connections, and voilà! In less than a year we’ll be on the cover of Forbes.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is far from the truth. In all honesty, starting a business from scratch is hard. Like, really hard and will probably be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do in your lifetime.
We all have reasons for jumping into business. Maybe a hobby you’re passionate about unexpectedly turns into a burgeoning new side hustle. Maybe you’re looking for a steady new stream of income. Maybe you see entrepreneurship as a way to escape your mundane and unfulfilling 9 to 5 and this new business venture is your ticket to a life filled with purpose and freedom. Or, maybe building a company from the ground up and sharing it with your family is the legacy you want to pass down to the next generation. Whatever your reason, let me be one of the first to congratulate you on this journey. But also let me be one of the first to advise you that this entrepreneur grind is not for the weak.
As we embark on this new journey the first thing we tend to do is saturate our minds with an overwhelming amount of information while researching every single thing we can on the subject. During the first year of entrepreneurship, we are reading every book, watching every YouTube video, following every success guru on Instagram, attending every conference we can find, and let’s not forget, asking anyone who will listen to us for business advice. We’re in search of some secret ingredient that will make our business an instant success right out the gate.
Gathering all of this information for months on end leaves us in a state of analysis paralysis. Sure it’s great to have an idea and examine thoroughly how to bring that idea to life, but oftentimes this is where we get stuck. Speaking from my own experience, I went down the rabbit hole researching the shit out of my idea of starting a street culture site and lifestyle brand for an entire year before I pushed play. I second-guessed myself on everything from the company name, logo, and what topics we should write about to what demographic we aim to reach. With every new piece of information I accumulated, the cluster of ideas sent me down yet another rabbit hole. At some point, I realized I was doing a whole lot of stockpiling but not much else. I became a student of entrepreneurship but not an actual entrepreneur.
If I ever wanted to turn my dream into reality, the first thing I needed to do was the actual thing I was spending all my time studying how to do.
The biggest lesson I learned on this entrepreneurial journey is we have to step out on faith. There is no other way around it. All the research and planning in the world does not replace experience. And that experience is gained through trial and error. Similar to a baby taking their first step or a kid riding a bike for the first time once the training wheels have been removed. Entrepreneurship is the same way.
We are going to fall.
here will be some bumps and bruises.
But we have to push ourselves up and go at it again.
The moment we decide to stay down is the moment we fail. It’s the moment we let our dreams die. In our minds, we may possess the most incredible ideas but if we don’t execute then they are worth absolutely nothing. No more than a thought that will never see the light of day. An idea that stays on the top of our mind but is never realized because we let the fear of not succeeding stand in our way.
Trust me I’ve been there.
We become trapped by the fear of the fall, of the cuts and scrapes of embarrassment, doubt, ridicule, and anguish that comes with going after our dreams. But what if I told you it’s worth it. There is beauty in the struggle. You can find strength in the process just knowing that every day you work on your dreams is one day closer to achieving them.
One of the main things that is wrong with our society today is that we live for instant gratification. We’ll work on something for 6 months or even a year and get frustrated when our business hasn’t blown up. There is no such thing as an overnight success. Success takes time. In the words of the multi-faceted entrepreneur Daymond John, “Rome wasn’t built in a day. Every overnight success actually took 15 years. Slow and steady growth always wins.”
Keep this in mind next time you decide you want to give up.
Being an entrepreneur requires us to wear many hats. In many cases, we are going down this path solo. It’s lonely and we are responsible for carrying the entire load on our shoulders. When we are first starting out we are not only the founder, we are the graphic designer, the IT team, the marketing team, the sales team, the logistics department, the accounting department, and anything else you can think of to add to this list. It is all on us. We are required to work late nights and weekends while our homies are out enjoying a night on the town. We empty our bank accounts, max out credit cards, and borrow from family members to pay for an unforeseen expense just as another one pops up the following week. We are constantly in a frantic state of trying to prove not only to the world but to ourselves that this crazy dream that everyone tells us is a waste of time and money is going to work. And when it doesn’t we are right back at square one. Banging our head against the wall trying to figure out a way to do things better the next time around. But in the end, the only foolproof way to guarantee our dreams come true and find the success we’re so desperately after is to keep going.
This is just a little taste of what you can expect on your way to becoming a successful business owner. And I say successful because the goal for us isn’t to be unsuccessful, is it? I can guarantee you that any real amount of success is going to come at a price and it won’t be easy. We will be pulled in many different directions and forced out of our comfort zones.
Going down this path of entrepreneurship has forced me to dig deeper within myself and to not be afraid of thinking outside of the box to challenge the conventional rules. This journey has also made me aware of what I need to get rid of in order to succeed. Things that I couldn’t imagine myself living without only a few years ago. It has pushed me to grow as a person and prioritize what’s most important in my life.
Being an entrepreneur is not for everybody. Take it from me. You will be broke, frustrated, lonely, and full of doubt. But, at the end of the day, you will come to realize that this is all just a part of the process. You see, entrepreneurship isn’t about money, at least not for me. It’s about freedom. The freedom to have ultimate control over your life. You are giving yourself the power to decide to bet on yourself against all odds. The fulfillment we receive from living with a sense of purpose and the duty of inspiring others to do the same is priceless.
And I wouldn’t trade that for the world.
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