For many aspiring entrepreneurs, “founder and CEO or co-founder” are job titles they dream of adding to their Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. What is there not to like about being a founder? You can be your own boss, network with influencers, raise money, work in a cool office and ultimately get super rich.
What people think entrepreneurs do
There is a lot of entertainment value derived from startup success stories. For example, the TV show Shark Tank has earned millions of dollars with soaring rations and one of the largest viewerships of any show on CNBC.
The Social Network, a movie that shed some light on Facebook’s rise to the top, shows the fun side of entrepreneurship by depicting a group of friends partying late into the night in a nice house in California, hustling through coding competitions and getting girls by showing off their money.
The media has consistently made startups look sexy by giving us a look into the lives of business giants such as Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, the late Steve Jobs and more. Consequently, the entertainment value of these high-end entrepreneur stories have encouraged many innovators to build their own startups, as opposed to joining an established companies.
What startup life is really like
While there is obviously a lot of truth to some of the perks I mentioned, the hardships of entrepreneurship are often overlooked by the media. Running a startup can be extremely rewarding, but it’s not easy by any means.
There are some hard costs that come with the perks: Low pay, long hours, monetary risk and high stress are some of the most common complaints. The euphoria of building a business with your buddies comes with its own sense of torment.
Most startups begin with some sort of idea, either from a problem the founder is facing or a common industry-wide problem. Founders experience a high knowing they are chasing their dreams. “I can do this, and I can do this better than anyone else out there who is trying,” is often the prevailing thought and a strong catalyst.
However, that same thought can eat you alive from the inside out. You can easily start to see anything outside of your dreams (e.g. spending time with friends and family, playing sports or participating in extracurriculars) as time wasted.
You might even feel like, if you are not working on your startup, you are falling behind. There’s a false sense of guilt that overcomes you when you turn down plans with friends and family.
Starting a business is quite often a pretty lonely process. Unless you have co-founders, for the most part, no one will care as much about your company as you do. The reality is you can be prepared, have a brilliant idea and have customers, but that isn’t enough to get a startup off the ground.
You need money — investment.
And this usually means bootstrapping, securing angel investors or gaining access to venture capitalists (depending on the type of company you plan to build). The stress that comes along with raising money is too much for a lot of new entrepreneurs to handle.
Investment usually comes with strings attached.
The fundraising process is hectic and it’s long. You are likely to face quite a bit of rejection. Ultimately, your job is to build your company, not raise money.
However, as soon as you raise capital, you enter into a partnership with someone else who wants to see their money grow into more money — lots more money. The good news is that most investors have faith in the team behind them. As a founder you gai access to investors with an abundance of knowledge, wealth and expertise, which will help you get your startup off the ground much faster.
The journey of entrepreneurship requires a lot of patience, diligence and perseverance. And while it rarely looks like it does on TV or in a theater, being an entrepreneur can eventually reap tremendous rewards.
This article has been edited.
Rafi Chowdhury is the founder of Chowdhury’s Digital and co-founder of myCampusHacks. He helps companies like DYL, Shapes Brow Bar, Win Hyundai , Wound Care Surgeons, and Easley Transportation grow their revenue. Connect with @_rafichowdhury on Twitter.
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