Entrepreneurship a Dream or a Nightmare?

Open a business they said.  Work your own hours they said. Make millions they said.  Well, where are THEY now that you are eyeballs deep in a business that is eating your lunch and keeping you up at night? So why didn’t THEY tell you the truth?  Simply because “they” probably weren’t the right people to offer an educated opinion and “they” either took advantage of your shortsighted excitement to be an entrepreneur, or “they” did tell how it was going to be but you chose not to believe the truth.
So let me give you some insight. Here is the truth, from ME, not THEY:
Paycheck, what paycheck? If you went out to look for a job and the hiring manager said, “We think you are a great fit for the position and we would love to have you on our team. You can start Monday but, you should know you are not going to get paid until the end of a 60 month probationary period.”  Would you take the job?  Well, that is possibly what you are signing up for if you go into business for yourself.  Most owners do not get paid much, if at all, for at least 3-5 years when starting a new venture.
Work your own schedule… Right!  Loosely translated that means you work and there really isn’t a schedule. When you become the boss of your own show, you may as well take the clock off the wall and throw it in the trash.  The customer calls, you answer. A fire needs put out, you jump. A sales opportunity knocks, you open the door. Networking opportunities, business luncheons, weekend events, sponsorship opportunities, community involvement, the list just goes on and on.  If you are going to run a successful business, you have to be available when the customer needs your product or services. The rest of the time, you are looking for the next customer.
If you do something you love, you will never work a day in your life.  While this can be true, in start-up mode, you tend to question your love of the choice you have made. Waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat because you don’t know where the next check is coming from or sitting by a silent phone can be nerve wracking. About the time you get your third or fourth proposal rejection, the love will turn to like or worse, hatred.  You will have to find ways to keep the passion alive for your new business and that won’t be easy some times. Especially when you are the only person in the business and you have nobody to consult.  Mentors can be great resources in these cases.
That’s a great idea! I would buy it in a second!  Yeh, well if that is the case, write me a check.  The fact is, most people in your inner circles don’t want to kill your dream.  They would rather offer encouragement and hope it works out rather than give you truthful feedback. Besides, it’s not going to be their house or marriage on the line when it crashes and burns.
So how do you avoid falling into the trap of chasing fairy-tales? Do your research, observe and be realistic. If you are entrepreneurial minded, you will not only see the opportunities in a potential venture, you will see the pitfalls also. Don’t just look for information that supports your vision, look for viewpoints that are against it as well. Do some primary research with groups of people who don’t know you but would be most likely to buy your product (or so you think.) Stalk a few businesses and visit with a few owners. Ask them what it is like running the business.  Too many of us see a “successful” business between the hours of 9-5 and aren’t around to see the owner coming in at 4am and leaving at 10pm.  Get the whole truth before you decide to take the entrepreneurial leap.  Done right, it can be very rewarding.  Done blindly, it can be your worst nightmare.
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