Going back as far as high school, I lusted after the idea of doing my own thing. The problem was I had no clue how that would work our, or what I would do. I worked a tonne of odd jobs, and even the casual retail job from the age of 16 until I was 23. I joke about having a long resume of 2-month work stints, but it’s the truth.
Over time I learned that working a 9-to-5 simply wasn’t for me. As a result, I started my entrepreneurial journey.
I remember my last day at the call center job I had, and setting up a plan to succeed in my small university apartment on the first Saturday I had off in months. That was the beginning of what has been a very rewarding and challenging roller coaster ride. I always knew the decisions I made were the right ones, but something else, while not always super obvious, has been evident.
I am cut out for entrepreneurship because of various traits I possess.
I enjoy sales. I don’t mind a somewhat unstable income (at least when getting started). I like solving problems, and dealing with people. I have a deep appreciation for my personal freedom that comes from being able to determine my own schedule, and projects. I’m willing to live with less, and forgo some of the American ideals my peers are experiencing (having kids, buying cars and houses, etc) to make things work for me.
I’ve made these choices due to what makes sense to me as an individual.
I’m often asked how I got started, or what I did to get where I am, but once I begin to explain how, and what’s involved, some people are turned off.
In the past, I tried to talk my friends into starting a business, but I soon learned it’s mostly a waste of breath. But not because my advice wasn’t good, but simply because those people just aren’t cut out for this life.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s perfectly normal.
I’ll be the first to admit it. Many entrepreneurs are crazy and many of us think our way is the ONLY way.
In reality, there are many paths to the same destination, but when you get from point A to point B in a manner that only makes sense to you, it seems like it’s the only way.
As a result, you might find yourself proselytizing to all your friends about how they should do it too, even if they have no interest or are scared stiff.
And that’s why I wrote this article — for all you go-getters who tell everyone to become an entrepreneur, you might ought to stick a sock in it.
1. Entrepreneurship Requires A Certain Personality Type
Many of us who enjoy this lifestyle are a bit eclectic. Some may even call us mad. I wouldn’t argue with them, and I’ll be first to admit to my fair share of manic episodes (just go read my Twitter stream). The up’s and down’s of this lifestyle are reserved for those who can handle it.
One month’s earnings can be amazing while the next month’s are next to nothing. If that phases you, I’d highly advise rethinking your decisions around working for yourself.
This life is about being a self-starter. I hate that title, but it’s the truth.
In my many job interviews, that was a key question –
“Would you consider yourself a self-starter?”
Every time I heard that I wanted to rip my eyeballs out and say “What do you think? I’m sitting here in a cheap pair of slacks, and a shirt my mom ironed in order to impress and convince you to give me 9 dollars per hour for making sandwiches and sweeping the floor.”
A self-starter is someone who can figure out what they need to do, and begin doing it – at times without a fully developed plan. It’s someone who takes immediate action, and asks questions later.
If you’re not willing to work long hours (at least in the beginning), it’s probably not for you.
If you don’t get excited about the journey of reaching new heights, I wouldn’t sign up for this gig.
2. It’s Not As Easy As It Seems
Some of my friends would ask me about what I’m doing. When I’d explain my work day, and what’s involved, a very common remark is “your life is so easy! You’re lucky! I wish I could get paid to sit at home and run a website.”
Now I will admit I’m lucky in the sense that I made certain decisions, and had certain people in my life who were instrumental in making those decisions, but none of this is easy.
In fact, I hate telling people what I do because it makes conversations awkward. I can’t relate to most people’s problems they have with coworkers, bosses, and rigours of waking up at 7 a.m. to catch the train.
On the outside, it seems glorious, but for those of us who’ve taken the plunge, it’s far from that life.
The mind of someone making their own way is a chaotic whirlwind at times. Everyone has their high’s and low’s but I imagine those of an entrepreneur are more pronounced.
Tim Ferriss said it best in his article “Productivity” Tricks for the Neurotic, Manic-Depressive, and Crazy (Like Me): “Most “superheroes” are nothing of the sort. They’re weird, neurotic creatures who do big things DESPITE lots of self-defeating habits and self-talk.”
But most everyone only sees is the outwardly productive and seemingly normal side of an entrepreneur.
They don’t see them dreading a project, or putting off client work due to fear of not doing it well enough. Or being burned out. Or dealing with depression and avoiding the therapist.
They don’t see them eating ice cream for breakfast and playing Grand Theft Auto: Vice City on his PS2 at 6am for 3 hours on the day a major project must be done…
Talk about anxiety one can create for themselves through procrastination… but this is a normal part of life for most of us.
It’s a constant push/pull between extremes. One month, everything seems to be going great. You’re making money, sleeping well, and routinely socializing. The next month, you’re skimping on deadlines, moving your to-do list back a day, and wondering if it would be easier to go work at the Buckle… at least you don’t have to worry about setting your calendar, right?
3. It Won’t Make Sense To Everyone
We need people to work at the grocery store. We need people to work in factories that manufacture our eye glasses and clothes, and packages our food.
We need school teachers, and mechanics. We need librarians, and video game store clerks.
Not every single person can do their own thing. Plus, not everyone wants to. The demands of someone starting a business are much different from those who are working for the business.
Some people have a talent for management, organization, attaching soles to shoes. Some of them don’t wish to do anything else. So what?
Something I detest is trying to explain to someone who simply wants to work at their job why they should go out on their own.
Maybe they don’t care about doing something on their own… Maybe they actually like their job (newsflash: not everyone hates their jobs like I did). Maybe their profession allows them the money they need and the time to spend with their family.
They’re not us, and that’s okay.
Look on the bright side. While you may be enthusiastic about the decisions you made for yourself, many others might not be as interested. Save your energy and spend it on making yourself and business better.
Feature Image Photography by Fred Othero