Know These Warning Signs Before You Become an Entrepreneur
The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question, “What are some of the biggest misconceptions about startup life?” is written by Matthew Swift, co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Concordia.
Being an entrepreneur is incredibly rewarding. As co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Concordia, I am privileged to wake up every day and experience a sense of fulfillment in working with people I greatly respect. However, for the many reasons I love being my own boss, misconceptions run rampant when it comes to entrepreneurship.
First and foremost, entrepreneurship does not equate to better or fewer working hours. Rather, you have to constantly be accessible and ready to work. Many people I know—friends and peers—often assume that founding and managing a company will enable them to further separate professional and personal life, when in reality, exactly the opposite is true. I often find work creeping into—and sometimes completely taking over—my “off” days and vacation time, but any successful entrepreneur knows that this is simply part of the deal. If you want to be in the driver’s seat of your and your company’s future, it’s going to demand your focus around the clock, even when you’d rather not be working.
Along those lines, as an entrepreneur, you must acknowledge the immense responsibility you owe to yourself and your company as its leader. You’ve likely heard that success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out, but with entrepreneurship, this mantra is particularly relevant. If I come into work feeling lazy, my team will follow suit. If I come in feeling angry, my disposition will spread like wildfire around the office.
If you truly want to be a successful entrepreneur, you have to attack each day with purpose, because failing to meet expectations can have dire consequences for your company. Perhaps more importantly, though, as an entrepreneur, the effects of your actions—both positive and negative—extend far beyond your personal life and into the livelihoods of your employees, and even their families. With rent payments, insurance premiums, and children’s futures at stake, there is little room for error and no room for complacency.
Persistence is the “secret sauce” to success in entrepreneurship. The reason so many of the world’s most successful people are self-made is because of a mentality that refuses to—and in many cases, can’t afford to—accept failure. The entrepreneurial journey will force you to persevere, to innovate, and to kick down doors to keep your business afloat, but this is precisely what makes it so gratifying.
Indeed, entrepreneurship is not as glamorous as it is often portrayed. Stories of massive funding rounds, innovative ideas with the potential to transform industries, and increased autonomy have contributed to a romanticized perception of the deceptively demanding, all-consuming entrepreneurship process. Being an entrepreneur is not a get-rich-quick scheme. In fact, as a social entrepreneur, in my case, it often seems like the opposite. It’s not an easy way out, and it doesn’t enable anyone with a great idea to retire comfortably at 35. It will test your resilience in unimaginable ways, and it will force you to confront your identity at your very core. But for diehard entrepreneurs, an overarching appreciation for the sense of self-fulfillment that accompanies their work motivates them to press forward.
If successful in launching a startup, you will expand your professional capacity in ways you never imagined. The journey of starting your own endeavor will ensure you are trained for multi-tasking at a high level, but it is also the best training ground you can imagine for all that life throws at you. Entrepreneurship provides an avenue for people to enact their biggest and best ideas, and if you are willing to grind, I think you’ll find it extremely rewarding. Just don’t expect it to be glamorous or easy.