Let’s be real, shall we? Sometimes being an entrepreneur SUCKS! Yeah, I said it. The suckage could put Dyson to shame.
But, before you get the wrong idea, let me preface my post with this: I wouldn’t have my life any other way — but that doesn’t make entrepreneurship easy!
Being an Entrepreneur can be heartbreaking
Oh. My. God. Seriously, no one told me what this life would be like. I’ve watched successful entrepreneurs create businesses that are quintessentially them. BUT — and it’s a big but — what I didn’t know then was what happened behind closed doors. The struggle + heartbreak my friends have waded knee-deep through is unfathomable.
T h e s t r u g g l e i s r e a l
Yet hope still flickers. Maybe we can learn from other entrepreneurs’ experiences, but first we need to look under the cloak to understand why being an entrepreneur sucks. Leggo!
Why being an entrepreneur sucks
1. What you do vs. who you do it with
Having lived much of my career in the corporate world, I have enjoyed many thriving work friendships. Some of my best friendships have blossomed because of where I chose to start my career.
If you have dreamt of running your own business, you have a dream to – at least in part – work solo. You want to work for yourself and for a time, you may have to work by yourself. This can be utterly terrifying! Hello, honesty.
It comes down to making a choice, as is a running theme in many of my blog posts: you can choose to stay and work with your friends, or you can choose to work towards your dreams. The sad reality is maintaining the friendships you had within an organization becomes much harder once you leave – but not impossible. Most of the people you once knew, may not understand the life you lead now.
2. You give up a road map to your success
The corporate world is structured and your career’s trajectory is map-able. For the most part, an employee feels safe in the knowledge there is a sturdy ladder to climb; not to mention a guaranteed paycheck whether you perform well or not!
Being an entrepreneur means giving up ladder privileges — it will only get you so high. When you choose to be an entrepreneur, you are basically choosing to find your own way to the top. The corporate world gives you all the tools, skills and techniques to get to the mountain’s summit, whereas the entrepreneurial path asks you to plan the route of ascension, choose your summit window, hire the Sherpa, etc.! Basically, you gotta do a LOT more work to achieve comparable goals, but man do you feel good when you do.
So what do you do? You lean on the experience of experiences mountaineers who have made it to the summit many times over. Get to know people in your field. Network and meet people like crazy – just for the sake of it! Entrepreneurship is only lonely if you let it be.
3. The ‘What-Ifs’ are that much louder
Signing up to be an entrepreneur essentially signs you up to question your every decision. In the corporate world, you have a fairly good grip of your job description. However, as an entrepreneur, you are the sole designer of your service/product, and a lot of your business’ moves are based on trial + error and customer feedback.
This requires a magnitude of self-awareness and humility. If something you put your heart into isn’t working, you gotta change it. And that sucks. The most unique and successful business are run by people who infuse their individuality into their company. That, my friends, is a struggle. ‘How do I set myself apart?‘. The self-doubt can scream loudly when you’re walking into unfamiliar territory.
How do entrepreneurs silence/manage the self-doubt and what-ifs? Acknowledging it and releasing it from their minds and bodies. The more we try to resist a thought, the more the thought starts to take over. Experimental Psychologist call this Ironic Process Theory, and the best practice is to let the thoughts come and go freely — without judgement.
Other ways to manage self-doubt include practicing Self-Compassion. Check out this TEDxTalk by Kristin Neff on The Space Between Self-Esteem and Self-Compassion. →
4. Trust issues, broken promises + Hurt feelings
This might be one of the suckiest parts. As an entrepreneur, you do your best to collaborate, but sometimes those come to an end. That’s one devastating position to be in — it’s like the end of a relationship, full of questions, rejection, disbelief and hurt feelings.
Just like in relationships, we must learn to self-manage the feelings around disappointment + loss, and implement strong strategies for self-care. Again, this is where having a tribe is helpful to work you through the feelings. And a tub of ice cream doesn’t hurt none either!
5. You must become your own lighthouse
Being an entrepreneur sucks the most when you can’t see what lies ahead. So, yeah, close to 95% of the time. You have a feverish idea and the tenacity to achieve, but the destination is a little foggy. Uncertainty can easily give rise to disengagement. Motivation can slip through your fingers and precipitate a slip into dissonance.
As an entrepreneur your ideas are in your head alone. Only you hold the bigger picture and so you become your sole motivator. That is a LOT of pressure to 1) notice when you’re slipping into dissonance, 2) remember your strategies to manage it, and 3) deploy said strategy.
How do solopreneurs stay motivated? While I can’t tell you about other solopreneurs, I can share my personal strategy. It’s not a set up, I swear, but I have a coach of my own — actually two!
It’s true that I’m the only one that holds my vision but in sharing my vision with my coach, I learn to externalize and see it as a reality outside of my dreams. My vision is HUGE and sometimes it’s too heavy to hold alone. My coach (and tribe) remind me of my ‘why’ when the ‘how’ becomes too much.
Is Entrepreneurship breaking your heart?