It is hard, painful, and can be the biggest rollercoaster you have ever been on. It can be everything you want it to be, and more, but not without more sacrifice and hardship than you can imagine. Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube have made entrepreneurship super popular in the late 2010’s. Photos and videos of mid-week jaunts around the world with beautiful people and an endless supply of fun and sun flood our feeds, our dreams, and nightmares. I suppose I could be considered one of those people, as my Instagram is only photos from my travels, from the surf, or with girls in bikinis. However, there are two sides of entrepreneurship that you don’t see, which is what I’d love to talk about today.
These are the people who look more like models than they do business people. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read “Turning followers into dollars” on Instagram bios. The same bios have no websites, no contact information, no examples of work they’ve done or companies they’ve partnered with, and somehow they’ve got 115k followers and 15% engagement on every post of their yoga pants or private jet.
These are not your idols.
If that is your goal, entrepreneurship is not for you. If this is your goal, well…good luck, because it doesn’t really exist.
While it is true that it’s more possible to become financially and location independent by working yourself, you’ve got to love everything about it, which is mostly….work.
I know…big surprise.
Now I’ve been working for myself for the past 4 years as a social media and digital marketing professional, and yes I have cleared 6 figures of income in that time. However… I am by no means traveling the world on private jets chasing the endless summer with half-naked celebrity friends. There’s still a few decades of hard work and sacrifice ahead. I spend about 8-10 hours in front of my computer every day (about half this on the weekends), and almost every other waking moment thinking about my business, in the shower, when I’m surfing, eating dinner, working out, and many nights, even while I’m sleeping.
I can leave my office and go surf, take a nap, or just straight up not work if I really want to. And I do from time to time when its really necessary cuz I’m close to burn out. However, being in control of my own schedule is not my priority because I can take time off when I want, it’s so I can work on what I want when I want to. Because a true entrepreneur NEEDS work and challenge to feel fulfilled. The entrepreneurial lifestyle is one of constant puzzle solving, schedule juggling, and headache ignoring….all for the love of the game.
The end result of that game can sometimes be a massive payday in the form of 7, 8, 9, maybe even 10 figures, however starting your entrepreneurial journey with this at the forefront of your mind is ill-advised. You will burn out faster than you could ever imagine. You cannot start your first venture with this in mind, because quite frankly the odds are stacked against you. A better method, which is the method of those who are successful, is to find something that you can be passionate about 24 hours a day, for 5-10 years, and then subsequently pour your heart and soul into it, not for the payday, but because you cannot think of being happier doing anything else!
Since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to work for myself. I’ve always been a dreamer, and incredibly ambitious. Once I had graduated from college and struck it out on my own as a commercial photographer and videographer, I knew I had been right all of those years. Despite having to work twice as hard, for sometimes half the money when I was starting out, I felt more free than ever. It was my life, my destiny, and I was finally in full control. No bosses, no cubicles, just me and my will power.
Slowly I started to meet other people who had the same passions as I did, but it wasn’t for marketing, it was for the cause of their business, and they were lost on the details of how to run their business, and then the lightbulb went on. Photo and video is fun, but I knew I was destined for more. Luckily, by starting to promote my own business, I became really well versed in the art of social and digital marketing. My hunger for knowledge and passion for problem-solving lead me right to where I was supposed to be, a Digital Marketing Strategist. Now I am able to use my passions for problem solving and entrepreneurship to either teach or support other entrepreneurs. Who else is going to understand what it takes to work for yourself other than someone who is already working for themselves?
Why are entrepreneurs so deadset against working 40 hours a week in an office, and willing to spend 80 hours a week working at home or in coffee shops? Surely everyone has their own reason, but mostly I think it is something intrinsic to who we are as humans from birth. I don’t think it is something that is learned, or can be taught. You either know that this is what you are destined for or you don’t. If fear is holding you back, either give up and re-align your goals or go for it and get ready to learn from your mistakes. The entrepreneur who hesitates will miss every single time. The entrepreneur who runs towards a challenge fails as fast as they can, and takes those lessons to never make the same mistake again…that is the entrepreneur who will take home the gold.
I share these cautionary tales mostly to set the right expectations. Despite loving social media, and working in it full time, I am not happy with the way it portrays entrepreneurship. I think it gives people the entirely wrong idea and then crushes people’s spirits when they find out the truth. I am sharing all of this with you so you can ask yourself the hard questions, and decide now if 5-10 years of sacrifice to build your own business (yes it can take that long and you shouldn’t plan for any less) for benefits for the rest of your life? Or, would you rather work a steady, comfortable job, never worry about financial stability and have your nights and weekends to do whatever you want? If you ask me, have your nights and weekends.
I’ll choose control over my destiny any day.