With jobs a major concern for so many, more people than ever are considering the life of an entrepreneur. As one who has been an entrepreneur for 25 years (since getting out of law school), I have some insight.
Being an entrepreneur is exhilarating and debilitating. It is a path to enormous personal satisfaction ... and pain. Since 9 out of 10 start-up's never make it, the odds are against you. However, there's always the 1 in 10 chance you'll make it, and the 1 in a 1,000,000 chance you'll fly like Google.
I have started or participated in the start-up of at least 20 businesses -- including a shirt factory in El Salvador, a "pure play" Internet marketing venture, a real estate brokerage and development enterprise, and an adventure ski company. On balance, I am ahead financially but, there have been many days when I wondered what the heck I was thinking. Here are a few of the days budding entrepreneurs should know about:
1. Little or no sleep over a 4-day period -- comes with the territory.
2. Embarrassment and humiliation -- my new venture is a publishing company. Nothing like a book signing when no one shows, or a call-in radio interview where the only caller is the host's daughter.
3. Fixing toilets -- as an entrepreneur, there are few support systems. In trying to fix the office toilet, I made it much worse.
4. Feeling invisible -- notwithstanding great products or services, if you do not have the capital for marketing or a terrific viral strategy, there are many days when you feel like no one even knows you exist.
5. An overwhelming sense of helplessness -- you finally start to get some traction and then some technology issue rears its head. It takes seven days to fix. You want to jump off a bridge.
6. Banker envy -- you have drinks with an investment banker, who you personally know to be a moron, crowing about his seven-figure bonus.
7. Spousal concern -- after an extended period of long days and nights at the office, my wife wondered out loud about my priorities.
8. Missing kids' events -- only happened a few times but when I missed a soccer game, school play or teacher conference, I was down for days.
9. Self-Doubt -- you of all people must believe in what you are doing. Sometimes, that is easier in theory than in practice.
10. AN ENORMOUS HIGH -- then, after all the pain, frustration, family and financial pressure, introspection and heartache, you hit some kind of tipping point. People start to notice you and your venture. Sales increase. The media begins to call. "Wow," you think to yourself. "I knew it would all work out."