From the outside, the life of an entrepreneur might at first appear to have equal shares of freedom and glamour. After all, many of these mavericks set their own schedules, take private planes to exotic destinations, and grace the covers of business magazines touting their expertise.
But only a select few will ever get to taste the success of this lifestyle (which didn’t come easy in the first place). Most will fail, many will flounder, and some will succeed – but not without a price.
Being an entrepreneur means sacrificing a lot in order to succeed. Entrepreneurs lead an often stressful life defined by a milieu of high risk/reward and constant change. Not everyone is equipped to handle the high-stakes uncertainty that comes with the caveat of continuous pressure.
90% of all startups fail and only 10% make it to their second year. It takes a particular type of character to dive into this world knowing these odds await them – especially when playing roulette with other people’s money.
While these statistics are true across all industries, the tech space is a particularly challenging landscape for entrepreneurs. The rapid rate of innovation and transformation makes it one of the most evolving and turbulent spaces to find your footing as an entrepreneur. An industry that is in constant flux demands entrepreneurs to be flexible and future-focused always.
This lifestyle of constant pressure and stress leads many entrepreneurs to suffer from mental health challenges and experience varying degrees of depression and anxiety. Entrepreneurs commonly lead a life of long hours, risk, responsibility, and constant financial pressure that can lead to burnout and depression if not handled correctly.
This fast-paced and sometimes unstructured way of life can cause emotional turbulence, especially considering the many sacrifices needed to make a startup work. Personal relationships are strained due to an often unhealthy work-life balance combined with the ever-present risk of financial instability.
While the entrepreneurial lifestyle might be a deterrent for some, others see it as a necessary evil on the path to success. Determination breeds resilience, and for those who live and breathe the entrepreneurial spirit, it separates the 10% from the 90%.
Being an entrepreneur involves an often high degree of charisma and confidence. After all, the first job is to present ideas in a way that inspires partners or workers to get on board. Finding intelligent solutions to complex problems; then convincing stakeholders to hand over their money based on a concept; then leading teams from the front to turn these ideas into reality takes its toll. Much like herding cats, it’s not an easy thing to convince people to share in your vision, no matter how good it is.
Entrepreneurs tend to go all-in on their business ideas – emotionally and financially. This is a potentially combustible mixture of psychological elements as they both demand consistent mental fortitude to keep from going off the rails.
When ideas work out, the highs are great. Conversely, when things don’t, the lows are very low. This is because entrepreneurs take on an immense amount of responsibility – they have to financially satisfy investors, stakeholders, and employees. When things begin to flounder and money runs out, the weight of this takes its toll.
Particularly in the early stages of starting a business, it is often an environment of feast or famine. This chaotic uncertainty and constant fluctuations in mood and momentum can be taxing on teams and yet another responsibility for entrepreneurs to ensure the well-being of their people as well as themselves.
Freeing yourself from the shackles of a 9-5 job only to tie a stress-laced noose around your neck is certainly not the intention but often the reality for many would-be entrepreneurs.
Aspiring startup leaders need to develop a strategy for maintaining a good work-life balance and managing their well-being while pursuing entrepreneurial success. One should not take priority over the other as both are needed to make it to the finish line of success. This should be done as early as possible so it becomes an integral part of your entrepreneurial philosophy.
It is important to take a realistic approach to what it means to be an entrepreneur. Ignore any ill-conceived perspectives that hustle-porn culture has entrenched into so many aspiring business leaders. Success does not hinge on ruthlessness and working 20 hours every day.
The beauty of entrepreneurship is that anyone can create their own path to success and redefine what it means to be a business owner. Entrepreneurship is an expression of individuality, so take time to consider your own approach and make it your own. What has worked for others might not necessarily work for you. Take inspiration from others and add your own personality to create something unique that defines you as an entrepreneur.
At WeAreBrain, we have infused the personality and characteristics of our founders and team members into the DNA of our business. Our core values inform our approach to business, this is what inspires us to make a difference in the world – this is what defines us and makes us unique.
Becoming an entrepreneur is not easy. It takes tremendous commitment, sacrifice, and determination to fuel a willingness to succeed despite the odds. Some are born with it, others adopt it.
But the most successful ones see it as a way of life comprised of highs and lows, wins and losses, and ebbs and flows. They understand that it is a marathon, not a race. It is a lifestyle, not a phase. It is an all-encompassing mindset that never rests because their definition of success is always evolving.
Understanding that there is a dark side to entrepreneurship – and being comfortable with it – takes a certain resilience. It is what separates the leaders from the followers.
The only question remaining is – are you in?
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