It’s becoming increasingly common to see the million-dollar idea and the brainchild entrepreneurs behind it that resemble the 1% that NEVER gave up. These seemingly overnight bedroom businesses and brands that are suddenly giving Apple or Google a run for their money are blind sigh-tingly forcing us to believe that absolutely zero compromise, hard work, and dedication or years of sacrifice went into building them thanks to the smoke and mirror BS infecting our eyes on social media.
I am almost certain, that if you are reading this on the BEYOUROWN platform, then the chances are that you can relate and just did an air fist. Yes agreed, the startup life is absolutely a risk worth taking, but yet how many of you are ready to face the many sleepless nights you will endure when you have to try to figure out how you are going to pay your rent in 6 months time, or the cold sweats you feel when you open your cupboard door that inside displays little more than coffee, a loaf of bread and a can of Heinz soup to fill you up for the entire day since you’d rather pay that overdue invoice, or at least that was how it was for me back in 2011 since I certainly wasn’t fine dining until 2014. That is an outlook that is almost never shown on Instagram or Facebook or Snapchat.
There are many entrepreneurs I know who have created fantastic concepts and have taken it upon themselves to exploit great opportunities. They have identified and accepted the risks that come with the title and have fought to explore innovative business models to become that 1%. Many of them come prepared and understand that their ventures might not make the final cut or may never get off the launch pad.
I have personally run into so many fascinating people who have told me that they would happily trade their somewhat boring desk jobs in the bid of being an entrepreneur… and never did. I don’t know why because I never asked. There were also the few that had high hopes of developing a product or service subsequent to today’s economic activity, ambitiously anticipating the success of delivering it into the market whilst having the freedom of being their own boss. Then as truth would have it, 6 months after gearing up, they figure out they are just not cut out for entrepreneurship.
It’s truly baffling, because whilst I wouldn’t trade my place for anywhere else in the world right now, ( St Barts doesn’t count) I still feel that so many of you are getting it totally wrong- hence this article topic. I would like to reiterate to you that the harsh reality of becoming an entrepreneur and building a business from the ground up, just isn’t all sunshine and raisins. It doesn’t reap of fairytale-like magic with a plush city-centre office and a chauffeur-driven Mercedes, or not at least for the first few years. It also takes a little bit more than posting a selfie next to your laptop accompanied by a Starbucks mug to run a business.
Whilst it is fun to dream, and hopefully turn those dreams into reality, the latter stated above is the very misconstrued ideology that concerns me, mostly because, there seems to be hardly anyone out there accurately portraying the real reality behind building a business as an entrepreneur. The chances are that what you see on one of your favourite industry leaders IG, is a slight variation of the truth of how they really got to where they are today. It takes tenacity, perseverance and a huge amount of resilience to keep going and keep fighting whether your business is selling refined cheese at a Farmer’s market or you have just set up your first pet e-commerce store.
You may sit there and nod your head persisting you already know this, but believe me, there’s a chance that from the very moment you decide to launch your own venture, (if you haven’t already) that extravagant purchases will come to a halt and that sadly includes the Peppermint Soya Mocha you have every morning. You will become more focused on utilising the companies finances and expenditures to the best of your ability, and the very few assets that you do own, you may have to sell later down the line in order to prevent your business from going under. Side note, that 9 times of out 10, you will be bearing both the loss and the journey alone.
It does get better, remember that freedom you wanted? The freedom to be your own boss and make your own decisions? Well, of course, you will get to make your own spontaneous decisions, pretty much on your own in the beginning since Siri won’t always save you and there will be a tonne of people out there who will just never get your ‘great idea.’ I openly admit that whilst starting my first retail company Critics Clothing I didn’t calculate the risk factors much at all, I just took all I knew and what I knew with me and ran my show on my own accord. I learned a lot, put it that way. Continued, your business will solely demand your full attention and the outcome and consequences will be impacted by the conscious decisions you’ll be making on a daily basis.
Being an entrepreneur isn’t for the weak or faint-hearted, it also isn’t for the ones who don’t perform well under pressure, simply because the chances are that you will at some point feel like your stress levels are soaring through the roof and your head will explode like an over-fizzed can of soda. Oh, there’s nothing like the end of tax year returns that really perpetuate the cycle of anxiety should you not know anything about them and the reoccurring nightmares of self-doubt.
Granted, there is the ability to skyrocket you’re earning potential through the roof whilst having the freedom to live the laptop lifestyle that many of us are calling it, but I am almost sure, to begin with, you’ll be broke and you’ll be putting in more hours a week than most on national minimum wage with very little ROI. So just a little word of advice, whatever your new start-up is venturing in, just make sure you are passionate about doing it night and day because I don’t know a single entrepreneur that is not on call and doing between 20-30 extra hours week overtime and occasionally living hand to mouth.
Hopefully, if you got the memo, you will attend the networking invites along with the cool opportunities to meet many other like-minded ambitious entrepreneurs just like yourself but your other personal relationships will suffer. You will eventually get tired of spreading yourself too thin across all of these activities and the endless juggernaut like communities you’ll become pressured to engage in.
So forget the single ladies Wednesday club meet up and the weekly Sunday dinner at your mom’s house, because it won’t be happening whilst when you’re in full bloom, and when it does, it will be sporadical. I can’t count the number of times I have agreed to meet up with friends, only to have had last-minute plans thrown in forcing me to cancel, thus losing the right to vote on whose turn it is to pick the movie at IMAX.
We all know that, if your friends cannot handle this, then they weren’t ever really friends at all, but even I have to admit that there are only so many times I can cancel and let someone down before they eradicate me from their lives completely. I have to work extremely hard at maintaining my friendships in my inner social circle, not because they are necessarily hard work, but I know I can be.
For some of you that are still with me, I know you feel the pain especially if you’re going through this journey and for the many others of you, this isn’t at all to deter you from going big and never going home. This is merely just a mental note for you to take on board because I feel like the untold matter of entrepreneurship is often half of the cold truth.
There is very little time for any entrepreneur, to begin with, your work schedule will be rammed packed with research trips, business dinners, and presentations at board meetings. You may not leave your apartment for days whilst finishing off your business plan, design work or keynote speech slideshows and you will most likely live in the same worn-out tee and trackies looking like a sloth when you finally emerge out into the daylight. The endless pending promises you’ll live on from people you work alongside in business will cripple your larynx and the access to the funding you require to keep your business afloat may get cut short at any moment. Need I remind you to forget your annual vacation with your BF? Believe me, there is a backburner for that…
There are very few things I cry over, but staying strong whilst things appear to be crumbling around me and living in the constant feeling of the unknown is never easy and it’s never that fun to go through. Don’t give me that “hindsight” mule poop either. Whether you have great friends to tell you to keep going or a particular family member that tells you to give it up and get a ‘real job,’ only you know what is best for you and best for your business. I have had countless offers to return back home and countless offers I have declined, even when times were miserable.
I’m optimistic and look at life with the glass half full at all times and I know how glamorous it seems to think that you can ride top-down in your Tesla with your hair blowing in the breeze down Silicon Valley, but please stop daydreaming. Be realistic, be pragmatic and be logical.
Should someone told me before just how hard times can be, then I probably would have been reluctant to start. Now is never a better time than to go out there and start your own ventures and I am here championing it 100%, but, get off of social media and make sure you do some research in the real world first because it’s damn hard.