There’s a side to entrepreneurship that most people don’t see. We look at the Elon’s of the world and say, “Must be nice!” But the reality is 99.99% of people would never really want to do their job.
You might be thinking, “I don’t need millions to be happy. It’d be great just to be an executive or own a small business.” Okay then, let’s take it down to a more relatable level.
Scenario One: Dr. So-and-so
Let’s say, your dream is to be a doctor. Maybe one of your parents attended an elite university and the other is an award-winning surgeon. Seems like smooth sailing, right? Wrong. Even with wealthy, successful, trailblazing parents, you’d STILL have to make it through medical school and pay for it (scholarships take work too).
The average American doctor will spend up to 15 years in school before they are eligible for medical licensing, then 15 more working their way up the medical ladder.
Sure, unless you go the philanthropic route, you’ll bring home a top-tier salary, but you’ll need it to pay off your six-figure student debt (plus interest). Hopefully, during your decades of schooling and residencies, you’ve found the time to meet someone willing to make the sacrifices necessary to be (and stay) Mr. or Mrs. Doctor So-and-so.
I recently heard a wealthy businessman advise his pre-med daughter, “Doctors have names, not lives.”
Scenario Two: Small Business Owner
Maybe medical school isn’t for you, but you want to start your own company. Unless you inherit a business, you have three choices: 1. Take out a loan. 2. Get an investor. 3. Self-fund.
If you’re not interested in putting all of your possessions up for collateral or giving up half of your business, you’ll probably prefer the self-funded route. Depending on your business, you might have rent, equipment, legal documents (lawyer fees), inventory, marketing expenses and maybe an employee or two.
Would you sacrifice date nights, drive a rusty used car and live in a 500-square-foot studio so you could write $20,000 checks without going into debt? Are you willing to invest $50,000 in a business instead of a 401K or a house with no guarantee it’ll work out? Could you handle constant judgment from people who don’t understand, even family? Would you work until midnight after eight hours at your day job, for years, in order to save and prepare for opening your business?
90% of you checked out after scenario one. The other 9.99% of you just felt a lot better about your 9-5.
Scenario Three: Freelancing/Consulting
Consulting is probably the safest of the self-employment journeys. I have been freelancing for three years. I work from home, some days in sweatpants, and I can get away with not washing my hair for a week (dry shampoo is God’s gift to entrepreneurs). I choose my wage and workload, and I work remotely, which means I can live or travel wherever, whenever, without asking permission.
Here’s what you don’t see…
Basic health insurance costs more than most people’s mortgage and I still have to pay full-price for all medical bills until I meet an un-meetable deductible. Tax day comes with the opposite of an exciting refund. I don’t get PTO, which means taking a vacation costs more than just a plane ticket. If you don’t know what overhead is, look it up. I am alone every day unless I plan a work date (insert therapy cat).
The cherry on top…it took me two years to make a stable income.
Are you getting the picture?
First of all, success and money aren’t necessarily synonymous. There are millions of people working their life away so that one-day they don’t have to work. At the same time, millions of others are living abundantly, right now, with a lot less. Both are making sacrifices, but their ideas of “making it” are opposite.
Being self-employed is never a safe decision. Something as simple as being a full-time blogger comes with seasons of complication and uncertainty. Everyone draws his or her own line in the sand when it comes to comfort with risk.
These are just some of the pressures associated with starting a business or becoming your own boss. To become a doctor, lawyer, freelancer, or the next Warren Buffett requires a willingness to do what 99.99% of others won’t. Still, these hard-to-fathom facts about entrepreneurship come with an obvious “BUT!”
This life is so provocative because the rewards are so much greater.
If this is something you’re considering, here’s some advice.
- Never focus on “failures” or setbacks.
- Be flexible. Plans are good for structure, but they can change in an instant.
- Stay humble and open-minded. It’s better to learn from others than make unnecessary mistakes.
- Fair isn’t always fun.
- Sleep is important. Work with honesty and integrity.
- You don’t have to explain. Let your work speak for itself.
- Don’t mistake debt for wealth.
- Try to find balance in everything. Some things aren’t worth the sacrifice.
- Document & backup everything; this is the best way to protect yourself. (CYA)
- Pray. Ironically, the only way to truly be in control is to let go.
Do you think you have what it takes to be your own boss? Do you have any other tips you would share with wannabe entrepreneurs? If you enjoyed reading this, or have anything to add, please leave a comment below. Also, please share it with someone else who might enjoy the topic – your support encourages me!
Now, I’m off to wash my hair and put on something other than sweatpants. 😉