Starting your own small business or start-up is hyped up as the answer to all an employee's struggles. But is that actually the case? Nope! And I'm here to shine a little light on the reality behind the myths of entrepreneurship.
By Lee Rubin
There are LOTS of misconceptions out there revolving around starting your own business. And clearing up these misconceptions isn't easy, especially when the make-6-figures-in-30-days influencers romanticize the life of "being your own boss" to sell their class.
I want to take a few moments to dissect the fluffier myths vs. the reality of what the experience of the entrepreneurial lifestyle actually is.
People want flexibility in their working lives. People need flexibility in their working lives. That's why so many cling to the idea that being your own boss equates to flexible working hours and a better work-life balance.
Okay, sure, technically, your working hours are flexible, but in my experience, you'll work a whole lot more and a lot harder than you ever would as someone’s employee.
I can 100% say my work-life balance as a founder was much, much more challenging to achieve than when I was an employee. I've lost countless nights of sleep, skipped meals during 15-hour workdays, and my health took a toll.
I've found ways to take better care of myself as time has gone on, but the point is that starting a business isn't a glamorous solution to achieving a better work-life balance.
So many people try to sell entrepreneurship as a get-rich-quick scheme and money talks. And, honestly, it’s easy to believe if you’re only focusing on the financial success stories, like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates.
Sure, successful businesses and great entrepreneurs make the big bucks. But it doesn't start that way. And the get-rich-quick schemes are usually selling you something! (Well they know what everyone wants…to get rich quick (duh).
Most startups aren't profitable for many many years. The initial cash flow coming in isn't (and shouldn't) go into your pocket. It goes back into the business.
There were times when I had to forgo my personal paycheck to ensure I paid my people and kept my company running. Trust me — I know I could make more money as an employee.
But successful entrepreneurs aren't in it just for the money; they're in it to create something special.
You started this new company to work solely on what you're passionate about. You're doing the job you thought you wanted to do. You love that you finally can nurture skills your old bosses never paid attention to, and you're ecstatic to grow more than ever before. You're bringing your own vision to life, and you know that'll result in a profitable business.
But what about all the other things needed for business success?
Starting a company exposes you to challenges you've never faced and roles you may not have experience in, like accounting or marketing.
You're suddenly the CEO, accountant, recruiter, HR and developer all at the same time. You're conducting market research, creating investor pitches, finding customers, and networking your butt off.
If that’s not what you anticipate, you’re on a fast track to the worst burnout of their lives.
Autonomy is a beautiful feeling. After all, you get to make all the calls right? Who doesn't like having ownership over themselves? And founding a company seems like the end-all, be-all approach to finally having total say in the workplace.
But it's easy to forget being a founder also means being a leader.
Someone only interested in working for themselves does not make for a good entrepreneur. To succeed, your business needs more than a brilliant idea and a stellar work ethic. You need a team and the leadership skills required to guide them.
You don’t want to be in the thick of it and suddenly realize you're in the exact same position as you were as a manager. But now? The livelihood of your team and business is on your shoulders.
It’s can’t just be your way or the highway, because then your own team members aren’t going to find it enjoyable working with you.
Also, working "for yourself" is lonely.
In my early early days of building Confetti, I missed having a community around me. (Ironic when one of this company's goals is directly about community building) I missed having people I could express my pain points to and bounce ideas off of.
Despite wanting this life since I was 7 years old, it wasn't until I secured our founding team that I felt like I had made the right choice for myself.
Starting Confetti has been the hardest thing I've ever done - and I'm someone who understood the myths weren't reality.
Choosing to start a business isn't something that should be taken lightly (you can read more about that in Why Does Everyone Want to Be An Entrepreneur?), but for me, personally, I wouldn't have it any other way.