Being an entrepreneur is hard. Period.
Just because Zucks put on a hoodie and became a billionaire doesn’t mean everyone else can. Sure, if you’ve got the chops, there’s no question that this day and age has provided us the tools to build something both quickly and cost-effectively. This doesn’t mean that everybody should do it. It’s funny to me how fast people can realize they’re not a Kobe or a Beyonce, but for some reason, they’re able to convince themselves that they’re an entrepreneur who can build a million-dollar business.
Over the last half-decade, we’ve been living through a narrative that has glorified entrepreneurship. The story that’s been depicted in movies like “The Social Network,” has convinced people that they can (and should) start a business. However, by doing this, I’m afraid that a lot of you are not setting yourselves up for success. Not only could you be wasting time, but you could also be hurting your reputation and brand equity while losing money along the way. Instead of progressing yourself professionally, what you’re actually doing is stunting your growth in a time when you could have been an incredible number two, three, or four in a great organization, setting yourself up for long-term benefits.
Look at the facts: LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr—do you recognize these names? That’s seven (seven!!!) notable companies built in a 12-year window that everyone is shooting to mimic. In the time that it takes you to read this article, 27 more companies will have started and almost all of them will fail. This is a problem. Why does everyone think they can start the next big thing when it’s statistically improbable they’ll create the next unicorn? Look at the math. It’s against you.
Not to mention, to even be “successful,” you don’t need the “millions.” When you really look at the numbers, on average, an income of $155,000 a year puts you in the top 10 percent of all income earners in the U.S. That’s likely lower than what you would have thought, right? Well, that’s the data. That’s the truth. So this notion of “I need to make a ‘billi’ or bust,” is just impractical.
So, for those of you looking to start your own venture, start by asking yourself, “Why am I even going down this route in the first place?” The answer is happiness, because that’s the truth. Would you rather make $70,000 running your own thing, dictating your own income, happy as hell, or make $100,000 at a job you hate?
All I’m asking here is that we reframe the conversation. The only way for any of this to work is for you to start with your North Star and reverse-engineer from there, given the context of who you are and what you want out of the one shot you get.
In entrepreneurship, there are no magic formulas. There is no nine-week process to make you a millionaire. No secret-holding $3,000 e-book that was written by someone who’s never built a business besides the one that “teaches” you how to build one. That shit’s not real—it takes work. Hard work. And those “millions” we see in the headlines? They’re not realistic either. They’re just not. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be happy while doing it. We just need to understand why we’re doing the things we’re doing, because:
We live in a day and time where anyone with passion and love for something can build a business around it. This might sound cliché because the thought has been bastardized, but it’s just true. The internet has exposed us to a world of opportunity, but we need to be honest with ourselves to understand what we’re seeking. You just need to be practical and self-aware, because 30, 40, 60 years from now, you’re not going to regret the few extra bucks you could have made. You’re going to regret not focusing your time and energy on things that could have made you happy.
Image Credit: CC by Insider Monkey