The flip side of entrepreneurship
A little bit of fair warning: I would not be doing anything else than what I am doingright now,which is hustling. Take this in the right spirit, for every coin has two sides, and I have tried to show you the flipside as well.
Everyone seems to see the flashy and 15-seconds-of-fameside of entrepreneurship. It has gone so overboard that there are businesses whose entire revenue model is based either on ads or further investment. We can say this for a few unicorns,as well.Exceptions will not prove anything, but nothing justifies bad economics.
I have been in the startup space since the time there was no buzz around the word. We started a business that happened to be online.It might sound sappy but we started for reasons that were completely above and beyond money. We were younger and deemed ourselves invincible; we still do and that has brought us quite far.
The following seem to have taken a backseat for everyone who is bedazzled by the glory of entrepreneurship:
1. You will get paid last,if at all.
Unless you are a funded startup or are sitting on huge amounts of capital you will be the last to get paid,if there is anything at all. The expenses multiply within months of operations and can spiral out of control if you are not doing it right. By doing it rightI mean hustlingand bootstrapping. The only way you are going to survive is by having solid economics.Do not think like an MNC. This is especially for people who have gotten out of a corporate job and want things to be plush. Let me burst that bubble; it is not going to happen. If you do take that road I hope that you are able to get funded to sustain your kind of startup lifestyle.
2. It is not all about money for you,yet it is and you will abhor every minute you spend thinking about money.
If you are doing it for other reasons than money, then you will abhor every minute that you spend budgeting. It will be upsetting and highly demoralising when terms like burnrate,runway etc., are thrown your way. This will take time from actually focussing on the product or the customers and it will annoy you, but it is a poison that we must ingest.
~Bootstrap like a pro.
~Do not be ashamed to ask for help from the right people.
~Be open to helping people- good karma will come back.
~Make use of all the various online free tools that are at your disposal.
3. It is not for the faint-hearted craving stability.
Entrepreneurship inculcates a sense of impatience,and always being on the edge- entrepreneurs are adrenaline junkies. In some extreme cases,they get addicted to stressand it seems unbelievable that on certain days things are moving smoothly. If you crave stability then this is not for you. It is anything but stable. Everyday will bring new problems that you and only you would have to solve if you wish to keep the wheels moving. No success is permanent; one day here and the other day gone but having said that,keep in mind that failure is not permanent either. The highs are so much higher when you are an entrepreneur and the lows — well,you have not stared at a darker abyss professionally unless you are an entrepreneur.
4. It will ruin many relationships.
Yes,it will. Accept it. You will not have the time or the patience to deal with a lot of people and this will not be understood by all. They will not stand for it and at times,you might not careeither. Being a startup co-founder means that you will be working all day. I still have people who do not understand my hours, but that is absolutely okay. You will have to find the balance and it is imperative that you do so, but certain relationships will not be able to stand this test. Test being the time that you will take to find the fine balance.
5. It would never seem enough.
No matter what would do,or how many tasks you finish in a day, it would never seem to be enough. You would be your harshest critic, for nobody else is riding you. There would always be too much work left,too many pending tasks and so much more to learn. You will be stretched and you will learn that you do not have any limits. It is a good thing but this can be depressing for it never seems to be enough. Be gentle on yourselfon such days. Remind yourself ofthe progress you have madeand how far you have come.
6. It will consume you.
Your work is all that you will think about. You will eat,sleep and talk work. I am not saying that you would lose the capacity to talk about other things but there would be a paucity of time. On the rare occasion that you do indulge in small talk, you will end uptalking about your work,explaining what you do, networking or brainstorming. Find a balance — this is going to really hard,almost impossible. I have not reached ityet. If you are all too consumed, then take a deep breath and think of it with a positive spin to it. You are so consumed by it for it is pure love. Having said that,keep your support system close to you.
7. You would require super human self-discipline and self-motivation:
Failure is not an option for us. Sowe keep pushing. There is nobody to supervise you. We have been cradled by parents,teachers,professors or a boss- as a startup owner,it is obviousyou are the boss. You would have to be self-disciplined to get anything done. It is easy to just wade into this and keep sailing, but startups are about moving fast and breaking things,to make way for greater things. Make lists,reward yourself and take out time for things other than workas well.
8. Everyone will give you advice:
Everybody. Really,everybody will have advice for you. Your uncle,neighbour,peers,long-lost cousins.Listen to everyone but do what feels right for your business. Learn and respect experience but remember that nobody knows the essence of your business and your vision. Entrepreneurs can see the future and set out to create it. Have faith,keep learning and do not pay heed to negativity. My motto: Less people you chill with,less nonsense you have to deal with.
9. Your peers will settle down so much more quickly than you.
This would be soul-crushing on some days, for everybody would be settling down while you are trying to get a hold of stuff. It would seem that you have lost the rat race but you need to remember that you are building something that will outlive you. The idea is to spend some days like most people won’t so that you can have the rest of them as most people wish.
10. It might make you cynical and depressed.
This can happen when you see that every other me-too idea is getting funded; it is a lot about luck and fad,these things. It will also leave you a skeptic when people would try to pull you downand impale you. Stay away from negativity and surround self with your support system. Mediate,write, do things that give you an outlet apart from work. Never lose sight of your larger goal. Reach out to friends and talk,and take care of your mental health.
Keep moving because perseverance does conquer all.
Please leave comments on your flip side.
The post first appeared here.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)