I have amazing entrepreneur friends that have started businesses ranging from environmental consulting, financial advising, mortgage compliance training and espresso machine distribution. We spend most of our time talking about resources we’ve found, problems with vendors, new clients, old clients, cash flow issues, growth plans, what ifs and the list goes on and on. Most of our conversations are about pain, struggle and sacrifice. Around all of that we manage to sprinkle in a little talk about kids, love and hobbies that have become more distant than we’d like to admit. Entrepreneurship is our drug and she is a cruel beast. So why the hell do we keep doing it? We are addicted. We have a problem. So let’s at least try to understand the why.
One of the primary reasons each of my friends started their businesses is because they knew they could do better. Usually, their business starts with something like, “Why the hell can’t anyone get (insert business idea) right?!?! It can’t be that hard!” So they go and do it. I have had countless conversations trying to figure out why our businesses struggle at times while the unethical or unqualified competitors thrive. We take the drug because we know we can be better than everyone else.
I am guessing that if you are still reading and nodding along with me then you have at some point uttered the phrase, “I would make a terrible employee.” Our drug has ruined us. If you need evidence, look at your friends. I’ve noticed the longer one is an entrepreneur, the more entrepreneur friends they tend to have. Normal, non-addicted people don’t get us. The thought of working for someone and having meetings and filling out forms rather than just fixing the damn problem drives us crazy. To avoid getting a real job, we created our own.
One of my favorite songs has the line, “you bleed just to know you’re alive.” I believe that entrepreneurism is the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. There is no greater thrill than landing that huge sale that changes your business completely. Then there is the pain of having no idea how you are going to make your next mortgage payment. Where else can you get that type of emotional journey? Every entrepreneur I know, all of them, are passionate people who want to get the most out of life and leave the world a better place. We are dreamers. We are doers. We are solvers.
On paper, entrepreneurship is a terrible idea. We all know the statistics. It is just a bad bet. We look at it differently though. We think we have more control over our future than those in corporate jobs that could get let go at any time. At least we can have hope that tomorrow will be better. In fact, we will work our asses off to make it better. For us, we would rather bet on ourselves than on other people even if we know it’s not a smart bet.
I don’t know many of my fellow addicts who could work for eight hours in a cube or sit through hours of meetings every day. As an entrepreneurship addict, your list of job titles most likely includes web developer, marketing director, sales rep, bookkeeper, customer service rep, copywriter, IT support, HR manager, janitor and so on. We have so much to do that we get to pick what we do each day. Some days we choose better than others, but we are certainly always learning something new. Think about it, how often do you learn something new as an entrepreneur? Every damn day. If you are like me, sometimes you wish you’d go a day without having to learn, but it’s amazing when you look back down the trail and see how far up the mountain you’ve come.
I don’t know many people who have ever overcome this addiction. I know I’ve tried. I’ve craved stability after a decade of looking for my next entrepreneurship fix. Yet, I spent last week at YEBW getting kids hooked on the stuff. Even this morning I met with three of the most brilliant people I know to start a brand new business. They say the first step is acceptance. I wish I could remember the second step.
What keeps you hooked? Comment below.