In my last article I talked about how addicting entrepreneurship can be. Now it’s time for my Barbara Bush “Just Say No” moment. I want to prevent others from suffering from the same addiction I struggle with. At least if you still decide to go down the path, you will know what you are getting into.
Technological advancements combined with the “Great Recession” changed the landscape of entrepreneurship. When thousands of people at a time where being laid off and couldn’t find work, many of them hung their shingle and went into business for themselves. Technology made it easy to have all the resources they needed to feel confident that could pull it off. Thousands gave the bird to corporate America and attempted to forge their own destiny. Then, for many, reality kicked it. They learned a lot of tough lessons. They learned them the hard way. You should avoid this pain if you can. Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t be become an entrepreneur.
One of the major reasons startups fail is undercapitalization. Cash is king. Most people start with their own capital or that of the three F’s (friends, family and fools). It seems that every first time entrepreneur underestimates how much their new venture will cost and how much time it will take to build. They run out of money and start diving into the 401K and the couch cushions to pump life into the business. At the end of the day, you risk being broke and ending up crawling back to corporate America. So much for giving them the bird.
Starting a business will take huge amounts of time. It will be great to take off to go see a friend at 3:00 in the afternoon because you are your own boss, but you pay for it later by working until midnight. Owning a business becomes your lifestyle. Your work time and personal time meld into one big gnarled lifestyle. There is no more vacation time, no sick time and no headed home early. You are the only one that will get the job done.
At some point you are going to miss people. If you are by yourself you might start to realize how energizing it was to bounce ideas off coworkers. If you have a partner you will inevitably run into struggles and wish there was more than just the two of you. If you have employees you are going to realize that no one (and I mean NO ONE) cares as much about your business as you. I noticed that eventually most of my friends were entrepreneurs. They were the only ones that seemed to understand the lifestyle. The rest of your friends just wont get the new you and that will make you feel even more lonely.
I have no doubt you have read the statistics that most businesses will be gone in the first three years and that, for good measure, most of those left standing will be wiped out after five years. I know. I know. You are different. Maybe you are, but I doubt it. The numbers don’t lie. Besides a couple of massive personal events in my life, the day I called it quits on my second company was one of the worst moments of my life. Good times.
You are now going to need to be an expert at everything. You will need to be a copywriter, web developer, graphic designer, accountant, office manager, janitor, accounts payable, accounts receivable, delivery driver, expert at producing your service or product, sales rep, customer service rep, secretary and everything else in between. You are going to HATE doing some of those things. In many cases you will avoid those things you hate the most and then your business will suffer because of it. If you love working on cars and start an auto repair business then you are not going to be working on cars. You are going to be running a business and paying someone else to work on cars. That’s the harsh reality of running a business. The amount of time you spend doing what you love is often a fraction of the time you spend working on the business. Simply put, that’s hard.
If it sounds like I am being negative, I’m not. I’m being realistic. I doubt you would find many successful entrepreneurs who would disagree with more than a point or two in this list. I would much rather have someone decide to avoid this pain all together if they can. If you choose to move forward, at least you know the risks. I didn’t know any of this when I started out and I am still addicted to entrepreneurship a decade later. I guess you should be careful whom you take advice from.