I get asked a lot about how cool it must be to be my own boss. Also, about how awesome it’s gotta be working in tech, where you no longer have to worry about putting on a suit everyday and meeting with clients in some stuffy office :)
And, you know what? Those things are pretty cool. But, ask anyone who is an entrepreneur or working in tech and those are clearly NOT the reasons they are doing it.
It’s kinda funny that while I get asked a lot about things like dress code and sitting through long commutes or dull meetings, I never seem to get asked questions like: “What’s it like to wake up every morning at 4 a.m. in a state of panic?” Or, “What’s it like going months or even years without a paycheck?” Or, “What’s it like to be torn apart by self-doubt pretty much 24/7?" Cause those things aren’t that cool, but every entrepreneur I know will tell you that is their life!
We live in an age where tech has become so cool, so accessible and dominated by stories of unfathomable wealth and success (i.e. the WhatsAPP and Snapchat era) that it seems everyone wants a piece of the action. As a result, I get so many calls from friends, colleagues or even strangers about joining the seemingly endless Gold Rush. Not that I am any kind of authority in this arena (having accomplished so little to date in my tech journey), but it is my second company that I started, so I guess I have some small degree of credibility on the subject.
Almost 9 out of 10 times I tell people NOT to do it. Don’t leave your good, steady and secure job to become an entrepreneur. I tell them to keep their seemingly safe corporate job and not to leave and launch the “amazing" startup they have in mind, tech or no tech. And, more often that not, don’t go work for that crazy entrepreneur (present company excluded).
It’s a journey that most completely underestimate how difficult it is, how absolutely all-consuming it is and often, how terrifying it is as well. It’s all not about hard work, it’s about the type of work. It’s about not having any safety net and typically flying blind. And it’s never, ever, about the financial reward, because most entrepreneurs I know aren’t doing it for that reason.
So, if you want to know if you are a good candidate to launch a start up, ask yourself these questions:
- Are you prepared to work every waking second you are alive, because your mind will NEVER shut off?
- Are you prepared to run out of money more than you are making money?
- Can you handle every single day people telling you that they either don’t get your idea, or that they think it sucks?
- Can you create something from scratch and along the way hire, fire, plan, pivot, and try and build a functioning organization at the same time?
- Can you rely on no one but yourself to solve more problems than you can imagine, every single day?
If you answered yes to all of these questions, then go for it. Welcome to the club. It’s actually an amazing place to be, and one that I wouldn’t trade for anything!