The Realities of Being an Entrepreneur


Tamara Monosoff: Inventions

The Realities of Being an Entrepreneur

It’s not all rosy, but it’s certainly rewarding.

By Tamara Monosoff
  |   November 30, 2007

I’m often surprised when I talk to people
interested in starting their own businesses. When asking about my
experience as an entrepreneur, they’ll say, "You’re so lucky," or "It
must be great to be out of the rat race." Statements like this make me
smile because they couldn’t be less true. Luck has nothing to do with
it. As for the rat race, while different, it’s faster than ever.

That’s
why I wanted to share the realities of being an entrepreneur. First, a
disclaimer: At the end of every day, I wouldn’t trade my current
situation for any other option, and I’m grateful to be able to do what
I truly love. However, being an entrepreneur isn’t the easy, carefree
career path that many believe it to be; it’s actually quite the
opposite. When everything is invested in your own business–time,
money, passion and creativity–it can border on obsession. And when you
work from home or your spouse or family members work with you, you rarely, if ever, leave the office–at least from a mental standpoint.

Let me start with a few hard truths of being an entrepreneur:

 

 

 

1. It’s stressful. If you think meeting a
boss’s deadlines or demands is tough, try meeting your own, especially
when your personal savings are on the line. Maybe you’ve already taken
out a second mortgage and your credit cards are maxxed out. Or maybe
you’ve borrowed money from family and friends and you’re on the hook to
pay them back, ASAP. This type of pressure lights a fire under even the
most laid-back personalities. Not only will you feel the pressure to
get your business off the ground, but you’ll also feel the added pressure to do so quickly to regain some semblance of financial security.

2. It’s never-ending.
Yes, it can be thankless to work for someone else, knowing your skills
and talents are ultimately making someone else a bundle. But in most
jobs, you can leave the work behind when you go home to enjoy your
family, friends or hobbies. As an entrepreneur, the workload can be
intense, especially during the early stages when you are the CEO, CFO,
HR person, sales staff, marketing guru, tech guy, office manager, and
janitor. With all these roles, there’s rarely a moment that you feel
your work is "done" for the day. There’s always something more you
could be doing, like researching new markets, writing press releases,
contacting new media, cold calling new sales outlets, developing new products and
the list goes on. And that can eat away at time formerly devoted to
family, leisure activities, workouts or relaxation. It’s a difficult
balance to strike.

3. It’s frustrating. Maybe you’ve
partnered with someone who doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
Or you’ve received a shipment of damaged products that you need for a
trade show the next day. Or the media appearance you spent days
preparing for is suddenly cancelled due to a natural disaster. As an
entrepreneur, these types of situations happen on a regular basis. (I
speak from experience; all of the above happened to me.) The truth is
that you never know what’s around the corner and it can
be extremely frustrating when you’ve planned to spend a day on product
development, only to find out that you have to repair the cases of
product packaging that came apart during shipping.

So with this
kind of stress, pressure and workload, why, then, would anyone subject
themselves to being an entrepreneur? The answer is simple: the
positives outweigh the negatives:

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