Entrepreneurship Crock Entrepreneurial Illusions

Entrepreneurship is a Crock

by Nicholas Tart on November 7, 2011 · 15 comments

Entrepreneurship isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Going into it, you expect to wake up on a cloud, work on a whim, and fall asleep every night with the satisfaction of knowing that you made the world a better place.

It’s not like that. In some ways, it’s quite the opposite.

I don’t want to dishearten you. Rather, I’d like to set a few things straight to give you a better idea of what entrepreneurship is really like so you can work towards creating a business that you enjoy.

Entrepreneurial Illusions

Last week I gave a breakout session at the CEO National Conference and, during my visit, I got to know many of the other speakers.

Talking with the speakers, I learned about the struggles of running a big business. Talking with the students, I realized that there’s a disconnect between what they expect and what it’s really like.

Success is Unachievable

Nobody has ever become successful in their own mind. As soon as you reach success, your definition of it changes.

When you hit $1 million, you want $10 million.

When you hire 10 people, you want 100 people.

When you make it into Inc., you want to be on the cover of Entrepreneur.

Success, for entrepreneurs, is impossible to achieve because we’re inherently trained to look for new opportunities. We’re never satisfied with what is because we always see what could be. [tweet it]

Money Means Nothing

Two of the speakers I spoke with were John E. Hughes, chairman of The Coleman Foundation, and Michael DeLazzer, founder of RedBox.

Both of them are financially set for life but neither of them cited money as a motivating factor for becoming an entrepreneur.

I know it’s cliché, but once you have your basic needs met, money doesn’t matter. It becomes a way to keep score rather than a way to improve your life.

Work is Tedious

Entrepreneurship is not glamorous. More often than not, it consists of being glued to a computer/phone/machine for 10-12 hours per day.

When you work for yourself, you are 100% responsible for bringing business into the company. Unlike being an employee, you don’t have the option to clock-in and zone-out.

Every moment of your day needs your attention.

Create a Lifestyle Entrepreneurial Company

Since not every entrepreneurial voyage is a blockbuster journey, how can you create a business that never burns you out?

Establish a Purpose

Like your mission statement, you need to work towards a purpose that’s much larger than your company.

Apple’s purpose is to challenge the status quo.

Google’s purpose is to help people find information.

Facebook’s purpose is to make the world more open and connected.

When you’re working towards a purpose, work becomes easier. It gives you and your employees a sense of satisfaction that simply working can’t provide.

Work for Freedom

Instead of building a business with the goal of crawling into magazines or piling onto your bank account, create a business that provides you with more of the world’s most valuable resource, time.

After all, if you have money but don’t have time, what’s the point?

Work hard now to have more free time later.

Create a Culture of Fun

Create a company that’s fun for your employees and your customers.

You and your employees will enjoy it. Everyone will work harder. Your customers will appreciate it. And they’ll talk about how much they enjoyed hiring your company.

Turn your workplace into a play place and everybody wins.

Companies Doing it Well

Here are three companies that are growing quickly but still maintain a fun, entrepreneurial culture.

  1. Johnny Cupcakes – Last I heard, it was an $8 million t-shirt company with stores in Boston, Los Angeles, and London. Johnny Earle founded the company on fun and continues to maintain that culture by hiring all his friends and family to run the business.
  2. Meathead Movers – A moving company based in California that was co-founded by Aaron Steed while he was in high school. Every year, the $5 million company budgets $50,000 to throw a party for their employees and friends.
  3. Fabulous Coach Line – At 24 years old, Ray Land owns a fleet of 65 coach lines and he hit $7 million last year. Ray’s infectiously fun personality permeates throughout his company.

Aaron and Ray were two of the speakers from the conference.

The Bottom Line

As I’ve previously mentioned, the biggest benefit to being an entrepreneur is having the freedom to do whatever you want. But so many business owners get bogged down with creating the next big thing that they forget to enjoy the journey.

Don’t chase success, money, and fame.

Do pursue purpose, freedom, and fun.

If you agree with this post, tweet it out. If you don’t, tell me why.

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