Entrepreneurship Is Not For Everyone

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Entrepreneurship Is Not For Everyone

After one of my cousins got done with graduate school, he was intrigued by how the entrepreneurship culture was growing in the country. He was especially struck by how entrepreneurs were being labelled as ‘celebrities’. He was drawn by their rags-to-riches stories and by the respect that the founders of ventures garnered. So he thought about becoming an entrepreneur too, came up with a marketable idea and tried to implement it. Fast forward to today, and he regrets even thinking about becoming an entrepreneur.

Many others have similarly fallen prey to the promises offered by entrepreneurship—of getting to indulge in an extravagant lifestyle and of creating a name for themselves on the basis of their venture’s succeeding. It doesn’t help that success stories revolving around innovative ideas routinely get featured in news outlets every other day. But entrepreneurship is not the easy proposition that the media often make it out to be, and it might not be meant for everyone who wants to dive into doing business.

“Today, it’s fashionable to say that you’re going to become an entrepreneur, that you’ll shun the corporate world to go out and start a business according to your own values and your own rules. But here’s the thing. Running a business is harder than it looks, and the idea that entrepreneurship is the best solution for everyone is a myth,” writes Alexandra Levit in her new book Blind Spots.

A game of poker

Entrepreneurship involves risk-taking, and it calls for a lot of sacrifice, which many people might not be cut out for. People who want to play it safe—even when they could take calculated risks—may not be willing to dive into their venture and take decisions accordingly. Successful entrepreneurs are familiar with and comfortable with accepting change, but people with risk-averse characters might not be willing to accept change—something that entrepreneurs often have to deal with. Such shortcomings in an entrepreneur’s character can create problems in everything from managing a team to implementing ideas. “If you’re not a risk taker, you should get the hell out of business,” said Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s.

Then there’s the issue about going all in. Some people might not want to turn their hard-earned savings into investments for their venture. To start a new venture, you need to be able to get whatever funds you can and use them for your venture—even if that means resorting to ploughing your savings into your business. Also, once you become an entrepreneur, you’ll have to devote all your time to your setup. A 9-to-5 job will keep you from dedicating yourself completely to your new business. In most instances, entrepreneurs have to give up their steady jobs, along with the health benefits and other perks that their earlier jobs provided.

Recovering after hitting rock bottom

Failure is a part of the game when you become an entrepreneur, and not everyone can deal with failure the right way. It’s easy for people to say things such as, “You cannot sulk. You have to learn to deal with failure,” as if bouncing back were as easy as falling off a bike and picking yourself up. But only people who have dealt with the excruciating pain of failing understand what it really took for them to get back up. The heartbreaks, the emotional turmoil and the pressure that follows after failure can take a toll on the health of an entrepreneur too. According to a study by Dr Michael Freeman, a clinical professor at University of California, “1 in 3 entrepreneurs are living with depression.” Even though depression can seem a little extreme, other problems such as stress, anxiety and other mental issues are common among entrepreneurs. “The demands of business ownership may place entrepreneurs at a higher risk of specific mental health problems,” says Amy Morin, a psychotherapist who writes about the psychological problems born of doing business.

One foot on the shore, one in the sea

If you have a steady job that pays your bills, then it becomes even more difficult to take the leap. The initial focus of starting a new business as an entrepreneur usually has to do with creating value, rather than generating profit. It can take months, and for a few startups, even years, to break even and start turning a profit. When you have already invested in the venture, then money becomes a tight resource. You may think that you can moonlight at your venture during hours away from your daytime job, but then again, it will be exceedingly difficult for you to juggle multiple projects. You might also have to make visits to your clientele, dealers and so on, which you cannot do after your office hours. This problem can prove to be especially acute for office-goers who are also the bread-winners of their family. As such, not everyone can afford to give up a secure paycheck.

Becoming an entrepreneur is not as glorified and glamorous as it looks on paper. There have been instances where people have lost their homes and property owing to the loans they took out for their venture. Today, we have come to a point where seemingly everyone wants to become an entrepreneur. Yes, chasing your own dreams and passion can be incredibly rewarding, but so can contributing as a worker in an organisation and making an impact that way.

At the end of the day, you need to ask yourself if everything that you need to go through as an entrepreneur is worth it. The ones who have made it will always say yes. But only you know whether you are made of the same mettle as them.

*First Published in M&SVMAG


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Guest Friday, 03 December 2021