26 Apr What is it like to be an Entrepreneur?
The first time I got called an entrepreneur was in a feature in the Financial Times in 2015. I’d heard the term before but I had to go and Google what it actually meant. Over the next few years, the word started to get used a lot, it started to become very cool to be an entrepreneur and because there’s often no real way to verify if a person is actually running their own business or just talking about it, the word began appearing on instagram bios across the world.
When I was growing up the word was ‘business person’. A business person ran their own business, possibly employed staff, they made their own money and in most people’s visions, whether male or female, wore a suit. There was nothing glamorous about it but now, the internet has allowed anyone with a phone in their pocket to start a business and that does feel kind of glamorous. For many people, their mobile phone is a potential escape from whatever reality they face today, with some strategic content, tomorrow they could claim a whole new lifestyle.
With that hope comes the sharks who are out to make a quick buck. If you are currently setting up your own business then you will have noticed a strange phenomenon on your social media. Because the algorithms know us better than we know ourselves, your searches for ‘how to raise an invoice’ or the ‘London Start-Up’ Facebook group you’ve joined will be the catalyst to a swathe of new advertising. These ads will be selling a dream; that of the entrepreneur, who, by using Facebook ads, or drop shipping, or online marketing is making millions and now has a lot of ‘stuff’, because stuff is what life is about. You’ll also run into the marketing ‘guru’ on a beach in Bali who works from his laptop anywhere in the world. If you want to know how he does it, just sign up to the online course and here’s a little secret; you won’t believe how easy it is!
Yes. There are some people that have made a fortune online. Yes, a lot of people can work from anywhere. Most of these people are not selling courses about it. The way that the majority of people who sell courses make their money, is by selling courses. This is entrepreneurial, sure, but it doesn’t really sit right with me. My biggest problem with it is the pervasive myth that with a secret formula you’ll never have to work hard again. Here’s a spoiler, from an entrepreneur, a real one, it’s fucking hard.
Being an entrepreneur means sacrifice. What do you like to do with your spare time; hobbies, video games, seeing friends and family? Kiss it all goodbye because the first thing to go is spare time. Most of us spend what we earn, no matter what that figure is, we become accustomed to the lifestyle our current wage allows. Get ready for a change because the next sacrifice is money. Unless you’ve got a genius idea that instantly turns a profit or you’ve landed funding, your new business is a greedy little monster that will eat cash and so you’re going to have to go without for a while. This might mean moving in with your Mum or your mates, downgrading your car or selling your sneaker collection. Yes, it still pains me that I had to sell my dam shoes.
Being an entrepreneur starts with an idea, if it’s a brand new idea then be prepared to be seen as crazy, because you’re the only one that believes it. It’s your job to get other people to buy into the idea and your time will be consumed in the early days, convincing others, one person or social media follower at a time, that you have a good idea. This takes time, it takes work. Half of your time will be taken up with what you’re selling the other half with letting people know about it.
I think being an entrepreneur is brilliant. I love it and I wouldn’t want it any other way. As I’ve said on the podcast I’ve never wanted to get a ‘proper job’. I think there are a lot of people out there who could infinitely increase their happiness by getting out of their 9-5. However, it’s not for everyone. Understand that there is no such thing as ‘passive income’, nothing worth doing is easy. Being an entrepreneur is hard. It’s so hard that if you knew how hard it was actually going to be before you started you might not start at all. For some people a steady paycheque makes sense, and that’s fine. Just go in with your eyes open. Expect hard work, stress, rejection and heartache. If you can suffer through that the rewards are so, so worth it.