The Myth of the Entreprenuer

We’ve all grown accustomed to hearing or reading the stories of highly successful entrepreneurs launching a business out of their garage or basement and then one day cashing in on a huge buyout or making it big with a heavily anticipated IPO.  Then there are the newer stories of the Internet moguls who have amassed a million dollar business in 90 days or have made their own rules that they only work four hours a week.  But here’s the reality … most entrepreneurs fail at their new venture and the ones that are truly successful have been building their business for a decade or longer. Being a success is not easy and it doesn’t come overnight.

I love the post and podcast that my friend Randy Cantrell published this week on Lifestyle Entrepreneurship and Lifestyle Design.  We have talked at great length about the ego-maniacal hype of the Internet Marketing revolution scam.  We are told that it’s easy to have our piece of the American Pie and that we are even entitled to it.  If only we buy into the book, the plan, the method, or the personality, then we can be insanely successful and work only when we want to.  Then there is the backlash that Randy touched on as well.  What if we don’t see those results when we expect them?  We succumb to depression, anger, or overall sadness.  Failure has a very uncanny ability to rip away at your soul.

There are the true and very real stories of entrepreneurs who have built an amazing business and cashed out or become millionaires by doing what they loved or believe in.  There are savvy business people who have created fortunes through the Internet and online ventures.  It just doesn’t usually work out the way we would think it should.

Here are some truths about being an entrepreneur that they don’t always tell you in the motivational speeches:

  • It can be very lonely when no one shares your dream or is there to have your back
  • You have to work insane hours and pour your blood, sweat, and tears into your venture
  • People will steal your ideas or stab you in the back if you’re not careful
  • You tend to go broke before you get rich to draw a salary
  • Stress and relationship problems can creep into your life and take over
  • You can never just “turn it off” or walk away – you are always on.
  • It can take ten years before you are ready for your overnight success
  • There are no endless days on the beaches drinking margaritas or snowboarding in the mountains (makes a great commercial but not a business)

All the current hype about “lifestyle design” or the wonderful life of freedom is just that – hype!  Now I wouldn’t trade being an entrepreneur for the world.  I love the flexibility and the challenges that come with it, but you never truly feel like you can relax or that you’ve made it.  Maybe it’s that way for Bill Gates, Anita Roddick, Richard Branson, Michael Dell, or Tim Ferriss, but most of us will never reach the stratosphere that they have.

Why am I writing all this?  To be a discouraging pessimist?  Absolutely not!  I just want people who are thinking about starting their own business or dreaming of the entrepreneur lifestyle to know and understand that it is never as easy as one might think.  The beautiful story and Entrepreneur Myth has grown to epic proportions, but you have to be able to separate the myth from reality, otherwise you will discover you may have made a huge mistake that you were not prepared to make.  Count the costs my friends!

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