“One of the huge mistakes people make is that they try to force an interest on themselves. You don’t choose your passions; your passions choose you.” ~Jeff Bezos
Entrepreneurship is the sexy new trend. It is chic, stylish, innovative and progressive to create, nurture and establish your own brand. This concept has morphed beyond merely owning your own business into a guiding philosophy of life–a religion almost. I know you’ve heard the entrepreneur gospel being preached–every human being is an entrepreneur because life itself is such an uncertain entrepreneurial challenge.
Before you take the plunge and become the next entrepreneurial statistic (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, approximately 50% of small businesses fail in the first year and 95% fail within the first five years) here are a few things you may want to consider:
Owning a business is a hardcore, capitalistic, rigorous endeavor requiring an abnormal amount of grit and tenacity. It’s about facing indecision, insecurity, instability and borderline insanity–without flinching. True entrepreneurship requires divergent thinking.
Entrepreneurship is a whimsical term that makes us fantasize about the good life. We imagine ourselves jetting off to attend high-powered meetings in contemporary glass offices with a dutiful and extremely loyal assistant in tow –anticipating our every need. We wear cute clothes, speak “entrepreneurese,” and vacation in exotic locations.
The term “small business owner” actually means going to bed after midnight and waking up at the crack of dawn to get things done. It’s about spreadsheets, profit and loss statements, inventory management, advertising, hiring extra help and then turning around and letting that help go. Small business owners have to get things done for themselves–often times– by themselves. It is a gritty, get your hands dirty, do whatever needs to be done kind of gig. While it appears to be the mainstream approach to “getting a job,” it actually is counter-cultural because it involves tremendous (calculated) risk and contemporary society tends to discourage risk taking. And the biggest risk isn’t financial, it’s the emotional toll that this kind of failure can have on your soul. The stakes are high and failure is expensive.
Want to be you a CEO, your own boss and the big chief? Here is another reality check: If you own a business and you provide goods, a service or have clients–you are not your own boss. Customer demand sets your hours, your processes and procedures, drives your prices and dictates your existence. You are at the mercy of your customers.
Another truth about business ownership is that most businesses operate at a deficit for at least the first year. That means that you are essentially working for free. That is a real, hard fact and a lot of new ventures fail because they neglect planning for the financial inconsistencies business ownership brings. With a regular job, you know exactly how much you have coming in and when you will be paid making budgeting so much easier. When you first start a business you don’t have this luxury. Each month can fluctuate – and with that so does your attitude, belief and lifestyle. For some, this is extremely motivating and a catalyst to their success. Knowing that it’s all or nothing can drive you forward or crazy. Either way, the adjustment can be brutal.
This article is not written to deter you from starting a business–it is designed to help you make your own decision and not feel inadequate because you are not “entrepreneurial.” It was written merely to cause you to pause and think for a moment.
Are you passionate about your business idea or are you going into business because everyone has told you–you should? Do you have the financial intelligence and business acumen to actually run a business–manage inventory, project expenditures and losses and understand tax laws, potential liabilities and regulations for your particular industry? Do you have a business plan? Do you have the necessary capital for start-up costs? Are your personal finances in order (little to no debt, savings and an emergency fund in place)?
Are you ok with the fact that there are no paid sick or vacation days and no established retirement or health care plan? Are you prepared for the toll this type of undertaking can have on you emotionally and socially?
“Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” ~Winston Churchill
Getting comfortable with the stark reality that your business may fail is paramount to life as an entrepreneur. There is risk involved and you must turn and squarely face that possibility. Over half of start-ups fail within the first 5 years. The odds are stacked against you. Careful consideration must be given to how failure may impact you and more importantly those around you and those dependent upon your income.
The most apropos description I have found concerning those truly fit for entrepruenuership comes from Apple’s Think Different ad campaign:
Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward…