Entrepreneurship, the art of creating and building profitable businesses, has become this cool and sexy thing in the past years thanks to social media. On Facebook and Instagram, young people share messages about how fantastic their jobs are and quotes stating that anyone can reach their level of success. How-to and inspirational videos as well as the self-help book industry, made the dream that once only a handful could have now accessible to the masses no matter their social statuses or educational backgrounds.
But is entrepreneurship for everyone?
The short answer is no.
The long answer takes a little bit more explanation.
Entrepreneurship is attractive because people believe that by becoming entrepreneurs, they can have free time, more money, more security, and none to boss them around. While it can be true to some extent, there is no guarantee that by becoming an entrepreneur, one could check all these boxes. Having more free time will only depend on how the entrepreneur manages his/her time and on the type of business that s/he runs. For at least the first three years, the entrepreneur will spend more time working than spending time with his/her family and drinking cocktails by the pool. When you are an entrepreneur, you work day in day out. You do not log the hours. No rest during weekends and holidays. Your mind is always working. That is why it is crucial to create a business and not a job for you, which will make you self-employed and not a business owner. That is a big difference.
Choosing entrepreneurship for making money is not such a great idea, especially if you are looking to make a quick buck. Building a reputation, credibility, and clientele takes time. While you could have a few orders at the beginning, nothing guarantees that you will have enough cash flow to continue paying your monthly expenses and leave some money aside for you. Unless the business you run requires no overheads, the money you make is not your money. You first need to pay off all your charges, taxes and then whatever is left is finally yours. Making more money would mean that the business you’re in is highly lucrative and that you have a line-up of clients willing to pay you for your products and services. If you don’t have these two things checked, you will go down the long road which, with hard work and patience, will eventually pay off.
As for security, after COVID19, I think everyone realized that none is safe or secure. It is all illusions. When you’re an employee, you could be fired and dismissed any time. This is not foreign to entrepreneurs either, especially those who rely on one or two big clients to run their businesses. Nothing is sure, guaranteed, and set in stone. Clients come and go—Trends change. New products and service emerge all the time. Going for entrepreneurship to look for security is not rational.
And finally, the desire to be one’s boss is another idea that appeals to a lot of people. While it may be true that you’ll not have someone you will call ‘boss’, you will still have bosses. Your clients are disguised bosses. You need them, you depend on them, and their agenda becomes your agenda. Their priorities become yours. Their needs become the tasks you need to complete. Their emergencies become your concerns.
Entrepreneurship is hard work. It is a long journey of giving, serving, making mistakes and learning. A real entrepreneur must continuously keep up with the challenges and changes they go through. Recently I learned that Gibert Joseph, the iconic French bookstore in the Quartier Latin in Paris, is doomed to close. After 95 years in business, the company could not keep up with the book industry shifts. They cannot compete with Amazon and other large online marketplaces. Adapting to the ever-changing market is a necessity to keep up in business and to thrive in the long run.
Being an entrepreneur is also about continually being resourceful. Finding solutions, better ways of working and financing are things entrepreneurs do on the daily. It can be exhausting (or exciting) to always have to come up with ideas that impact non only the business but the lives of your business’ stakeholders well as your family’s.
Being an entrepreneur is very lonely. There is a phrase I often hear which is ‘it’s lonely at the top’. If you are the only one making decisions, chances are you will spend a lot of time alone, thinking, working, and taking action solo. There are things that your team will not feel concerned with, and when the storm hits, you will have to handle it all by yourself.
Entrepreneurship is hard work. It is a daily hustle to build and grow. Money, freedom, and fame do not come overnight. They are the fruit of determination, consistency, work, and patience. Not everyone is able to go through the challenges of entrepreneurship. Not everyone will. Entrepreneurship is for the fierce and fearless. Real entrepreneurs are not afraid to lose everything because they can re-build it. Their biggest asset is not their net worth or reputation. Their biggest asset is their skills and qualities that make them turn a simple idea into an entity that brings value to people’s lives. Real entrepreneurs are driven by something far greater than financial gain. They are human beings working to make our lives better.
Only the truly driven entrepreneurs will succeed. May you be one of them!
QUESTION: Why do you want to become an entrepreneur? Or why are you one?