When it comes to entrepreneurs, there’s a strong reporting bias. All day long we hear about the entrepreneurs who made it: Alan Sugar, Mark Zuckerberg, Jen-Hsun Huang. But they’re just the tip of the iceberg. As with so many other things in life, there’s a long tail to the distribution where the majority of entrepreneurs wind up. You might think that becoming an entrepreneur puts you on the road to riches, but unless you’re both lucky and have a great idea, you’ll probably go broke.
With that said, entrepreneurship is fun. Very few days are a drag, especially when you’re doing business. And as an entrepreneur, the sky’s the limit. You can aspire to be as great as you want to be. There really are very few limits to where your success can take you.
Here are some scary truths about becoming an entrepreneur.
You Might Not Be The Highest Paid
Entrepreneurs imagine that because they’re at the top of an organization, they’ll be the highest paid. But this isn’t usually how things work out in practice. Sure, the leaders of established companies often bring home the biggest paychecks, but that’s because they’ve already done the hard work, building up their empires. Because money is so limited as you start out your business, you’ll have to invest most of it into hiring the right people. And to get the right people, you’ll have to pay them high wages which are sometimes higher than your own.
You Aren’t The Boss
Here’s another shocking home truth: you’re not the boss. When you run your own startup business, this is one of the first lessons you learn. First off, the customers are the boss. What they want is what goes, no matter how much you’d like them to pay you regardless. And second, you’re not even the boss of your employees. To keep people at a startup, you have to constantly listen to their needs as well as their advice. You also have to give people responsibility to do things like negotiate deals and make their own decisions.
People Won’t Like You
Entrepreneurs tend to be an outward-focusing, gregarious bunch. But that doesn’t mean that people will always like you. There’s a risk, according to Ellis Whittam, that an employee or customers will sue you for damages at some point. But it’s important to know that as a business leader, this is all par for the course. In business, people will sue. The trick is to make sure that you protect yourself by covering all bases. Never dismiss an employee without providing a reason. Never sell a faulty product. And never tell anybody your IP.
Work-Life Balance Is Impossible
As an entrepreneur, work-life balance is a mirage. Work will become your life and will take over your regular free time, especially in the evenings and on the weekend. Don’t be surprised if you wind up going without a holiday for a year straight, working most weekends. It’s scary, but it’s all part of life as a business leader.