It’s been over three and a half years since we started our company but more than five years since the entrepreneurial bug bit us all. We were still in the seventh semester of B.tech at IIT-Roorkee, and dreaming of building a company.
Being an entrepreneur might be the coolest fad in town, but by no means is it an easy one. It takes way too much out of a person — physically, mentally and emotionally. It’s like taking a vow that from that day onwards, you are going to put one thing (your startup) before every other thing in your life — your comfort, your joy, your family, your friends and, at times, even your peace of mind!
Here are a few reasons why I think being an entrepreneur is hard:
There is no guarantee of success, no matter how hard you work. This is unfortunately the bitterest truth about entrepreneurship. In most other jobs, success is directly proportional to the amount of hard work you put in, but that’s not the case with entrepreneurship. In the early days, when things were very volatile, we would often wake up in the morning with a lingering discomfort and a nagging thought — where are we headed? This thought stays in the head even after many years.
You accept uncertainty as part of life. This is something that you might hate the most about being an entrepreneur. Will that customer sign the deal? Will that employee really join? Will we be able to raise the next round of funding? Will the marketing strategy work? Will the new product feature get user adoption? You are uncertain about almost everything.
You are supposed to know everything. Building a successful company not only means that you have to build a great product, but it also means you have to make tons of presentations, create complex business models (that require some incomprehensible Excel sorcery), learn mind boggling legal jargon, pitch maybe a million times, write code, do sales and so forth. The list goes on.
There’s no boss. This might seem a little counter-intuitive. You would be thinking, ‘Isn’t it great to NOT have a boss?’ No, it isn’t great. Having a boss means you have the option of saying, “It’s not my job.” Having a boss means that when things don’t work out, you have the option to ‘move on’. Having a boss means that if you are not there, then everything is not going to fall apart. Having a boss means that after office hours, you can have a personal life. Being an entrepreneur means being your own boss, and that’s probably the toughest thing to do.
It’s lonely at the top. It is really lonely at the top. You might have dozens of employees or colleagues, who are also your ‘friends’. You argue, fight and have fun with them, but none can comprehend what you go through as a founder. Even if you have a co-founder, beyond a certain point of time, sharing with them also becomes ineffective because like you, they too are going through the same doubts, uncertainties and problems.
Despite all this stress and uncertainty, being an entrepreneur can be the most fulfilling thing in life. In an entrepreneurial journey, you not only grow as a professional but you also phenomenally mature as a person. It teaches you to be a survivor. It builds such an endurance in you that no matter how difficult the situation is, you figure out a way to crawl out of it. It teaches you to have faith when everything else fails. It teaches you to persist right when you are about to give up. Most of all, it teaches a very simple fact of life — dreams only come true when you go out and chase them with all your heart.