What it takes to be an entrepreneur

So you wanna launch something? Have you got a revolutionary idea, an incredible product or an amazing service the world just HAS to experience? Of course you do, you’re totally awesome. Now let’s get off the clouds for a minute and get down to business. I’ve been a full-time entrepreneur for over 3 years now with no formal business experience and (drum roll) I haven’t figured it all out. Surprise! Running a business is like training for a triathlon—you can always be better and you will never be ready. Well, being ‘ready’ is a state of mind, but you get the idea.

You know those tests you took in High School that determined which career path would best suit you based on a series of arbitrary questions your seventeen-your-old self naively answered while thinking about which class to skip and what to have for your second lunch? Yeah, this is like one of those tests except there aren’t any questions—just answers.

A dose of narcissism.

Ok, let’s get one thing straight, if you aren’t at least a little bit cocky you will never survive as an entrepreneur. Look at it from a rational perspective, you want to start something from nothing, let hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of people know about it because YOU believe with every fiber of your being that it’s the best thing since reality TV. Ummmm—pretty sure that’s gonna take some narcissism. And no, I don’t mean self-confidence, I mean straight up I-am-the-shiznit-and-I’m-gonna-rock-this and I KNOW it’s gonna blow up.

(Don’t worry, you’ll have moments of pure terror where you want to crawl into fetal position and go back to getting a nice paycheck once every two weeks, but those moments will pass and you’ll return to being completely full of yourself).

A handful of pressure.

Let me define pressure here: an overwhelming and perpetual feeling of stress, anxiety and self-doubt while living in constant fear of affording bills, completing tasks and competing with the 98734897 other businesses just like yours. Oh, you thought you were an innovator? Reality check: NO.

You not only have to be able to handle pressure, you have to like it. You have to produce your best work while in the cooker and come out in one piece looking fly as ever because you’ve gotta run to your next meeting on zero sleep. That’s right.

A little bit of crazy.

Crazy people change the world. Crazy people quit their wonderful, comfortable, well-paying, secure jobs. Crazy people look at a gap, a void or a missing puzzle piece and think…what if? Crazy people trust their instinct over their logic. Crazy people stay up all day and all night to finish something. Crazy people think of an idea and believe they can actualize it. So yes, you have to be crazy. Good crazy, not I-think-I-have-the-best-invention-in-the-world-but-it-won’t-ever-make-any-money crazy.

(That last sentence was inspired by some of the things I’ve seen on Dragon’s Den/Shark Tank…seriously? What!? R!h*&$Jkh%F).

An unlimited supply of life deprivation.

No, not sleep deprivation, life deprivation. Why? Because you will miss out on a lot of things—including sleep. You’ll miss out on trips, clothes and maybe even a birthday or two (including your own). You’ll miss going into work, b*itching with coworkers and actually taking a lunch. You’ll miss normalcy, routine, a manageable amount of stress and ‘me’ days—your ‘me’ days will consist of doing laundry, answering personal emails and remembering your own name. You’ve gotta be ok with these things, and a whole lot of other things too, because you’ll be MIA quite often—time to get over your FOMO. If you don’t know what that means…don’t worry this last point doesn’t really pertain to you.

Now that I’ve made entrepreneurship sound like the greatest thing anyone could ever do in life ever, let’s all high five and start our own businesses! Yayyyy. Ok but seriously, I’m giving you some tough love because when I started my business I thought it was going to be easy (and easy by my standard means: I can handle this) but it’s effing hard. And by hard I mean, sometimes I just want to stare at a blank wall and cry. For hours. While listening to Celine Dion. (Guilty pleasure).

If you’re scared and risk-adverse you will never survive. Let me repeat this point in completely different terms: if uncertainty makes you nauseous and the thought of losing money makes the hairs on your arms stand…get out. Seriously.

I’m not being a narcissist (well maybe a little); I’m just being honest. Maybe next week I’ll write an entrepreneurship post inspired by the Teletubbies, but for now, I urge you to ‘take the test’ and start hustling.

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