What it Really Means to be an Entrepreneur (it's not what you think)

Entrepreneurship is "in" right now.

Many people interested in entrepreneurship see the glitz and glamour of those that have made it. And it’s hard not to. Every kid out of high school or college thinks they can start the next Snapchat or Facebook. Even if someone does have the right idea and is capable of turning a startup into an actual money-making business, what most don’t understand is that is takes an immense amount of sacrifice to get there. Quitting your job and starting a business is one challenge (and a different blog entirely), but building a business and dealing with the hurdles that come along with it are things that most are unprepared for.

I know I was. I started my first business 12 years ago, and I’m building my second business now (www.revzi.com). For those that have built a new business before, many have similar stories. For those that have not, here is a preview of what could be to come:

You’re the business owner, but you’re also the janitor, CFO, accountant, HR manager, and head of IT

Sure you call the shots.  But what about fixing computer problems? Putting desks together? Taking out the trash? Running payroll (accurately, and on-time)? And, customer service? It’s all you.

Oh yeah, you also need to sell, which is more important than all of the above.

Your business partner will be your spouse

Married? Dating? Great. Let your significant other know that you have another one now. This person (or these people) will spend more time with you than anyone in your life. It’s as if you are doing a 3-legged race 24/7/365. You’re always connected and always strategizing. Make sure you balance eachother out by focusing on different parts of the business, but make sure your goals are in-line for the future before you commit.

Your employees will become family, they may even move in with you

An employee of mine had to abruptly move out of his house. He had only worked for me for 2 months at the time. He was forced to move into a hotel and didn’t have any other friends or family members close by that he could stay with. He was a individual and great sales person that brought a lot of value to my company at the time and I wanted to make sure his stress levels didn’t consume all of his energy. I told him he could stay with me while he figured it out, which ended up being 6 months. In that time, he slept on my couch, joined me for dinner, and shared my bathroom on a daily basis.

You will bail them out of trouble

Another employee of mine fell on tough times. He couldn’t make his car payment, and his car was impounded. The total fees to get his car back? $2500. He couldn’t afford it, so I covered it for him. Sure, I could have said no, but the result of doing this was an insane amount of gratitude and hard work that ended paying me back multiple times over.

You’ll make less than your employees

If you want to keep growing your business, you need to reinvest in it. That means hiring more employees, paying the best employees more, and investing in your products, services, and marketing. Notice that I didn’t say pay yourself more? That’s because you come last. You’re the last one to get paid, and sometimes that means not at all.

You’re never “done” working

You may not be at the office all day long, but your mind won’t turn off. Your to-do list will be never ending. You’ll lay awake at night worrying if you’re doing enough things, enough of the right things, or maybe even too many things.

Your extracurricular activities no longer exist

Before quitting my job and starting my business, I got rid of all unnecessary costs, like cable tv, and my gym membership. I started eating the most inexpensive foods I could, like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or anything from the McDonald’s dollar menu. Don’t even think about vacations. You’ll see your close friends on social media going to music festivals and taking vacations while you’re reviewing resumes on the weekends. Convincing yourself that you’re running the marathon while your friends are sprinting is essential.

If you read the above and were shocked, perhaps entrepreneurship isn’t for you. It’s certainly not for everyone. However, if the thought of a mental-mountain climb, days that have curve ball after curve ball that can only be handled by you, the weight of having  your employees livelihood and customers relationships in your hands, (and realizing that all the while, your competitors are trying to beat you at your own game while you do it) truly excites you, then welcome to entrepreneurship, my friend.

As the saying goes, entrepreneurs are the only people who are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid having to work 40 hours a week.

Ann Ciambrone