Here’s What Being an Entrepreneur is Really Like

by Matt Fischer

Entrepreneurship is hot. Being an entrepreneur has never been so glamorous thanks to TV Shows, business blogs and venture capital. Schools around the world are trying to take advantage and focusing on entrepreneurship as an option for students. The truth is entrepreneurship in reality is nothing like how it’s portrayed in the media.

Starting a business has never been easier. You can go buy a website and hosting package and be in business in a matter of minutes. This is great for many of us. The barrier to entry is no longer mortgaging your home to take on a ton of debt, getting locked into a lease that might last much longer than your business can pay for or begging friends and family for money to help get you started.

With the barrier to entry lower now than ever, that also means many more people are seizing the opportunity to start their own business so competition can be intense in many industries. If someone likes what you’re doing, especially in an online business, they can knock it off fairly easily and instantly create a competitor.

Life as an entrepreneur can be awesome and awful at the same time. The biggest example of this is pay. If you’ve got a startup that can generate revenue right away, it’s awesome. For most of us, revenue generation is slow if non-existent at first. It takes time to build a customer base. There’s nothing more awesome than knowing you earned every penny you’re making though. You came up with the idea and executed it. You took it from concept, built your product and were able to sell it. That is extremely satisfying.

On the other hand, launching a new business costs money. It takes money to register the business, operate the business, market the business and more. So making sure you have a solid handle on cash flow is essential.

No two days are the same as an entrepreneur. I have varying work volumes each day while trying to work in networking opportunities as well. You never know what days you’ll have customers with questions or need assistance that can disrupt your plan or what opportunities to exposure your business to a new audience might arise.

Being an entrepreneur is stressful. I think most of us have a million different things going on in our head at one time. We’re either worried about something or thinking of a new idea to help expand our customer base or improve our product. Is our advertising going to be effective? Am I pricing my product correctly? What am I doing? All are questions that have run through my head at one time or another.

99% of entrepreneurs don’t simply pitch an idea and receive a $1 million capital injection to help get it off the ground. I funded my venture by myself, like thousands of others have, so I’m careful with what I spend. I keep my life pretty simple and economical. I work a lot but have learned to balance that with some socialization. I find that I need to just get away from it for a little bit to get a fresh perspective.   Just getting away from sitting in front of the computer and having some human interaction does a lot to reset my mind so the gears can take a break from grinding.

You’ll find a lot of people believe entrepreneurs are immediately successful. They think that because you own your own business you’re flush with cash and living on easy street. Being “your own boss” is great at times but has tremendous responsibility. There are many things I have to balance on a given day. Being your own boss means you make the decision but you must also face the consequences of that decision as well. If something goes wrong, especially as a startup, they want to talk to you since they know you’re in charge.

Most of us grind away day after day. Having been in the REDI Downtown Incubator for a year now, I know I’ve seen Caroline Leemis of Caroline Leemis Design and Matt Murrie and Andrew McHugh of The What If Conference, sit in the incubator with me, working day after day evolving their business, innovating in their industry and having that fire that burns inside of all of us motivating us to keep going each day.

For most of us, the moment you pitch your product and get a million dollar offer either never comes or takes years of working to reach that point. The life of an entrepreneur is not glamourous. We’re working many double digit hour days for little pay but simply living for the opportunity to build a business, to be a job creator, to bring something new to the marketplace. That’s what being an entrepreneur is about.

Read more of my series on entrepreneurship here.