The Real Price You Have to Pay to Become an Entrepreneur

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Like anything in life, being an entrepreneur has its ups and downs, it’s good and bad points. I happen to think the good far outweighs the bad, but not a few people disagree or learn about the bad the hard way.

Sad story: A few years ago, a lawyer I know had to leave her hometown where she had lived most of her life and move cross country for family reasons. And because she loved her solo practice and the flexibility it afforded her as a mother, and since she is smart and confident, she decided to re-start her solo practice in the new city, thinking it would not be too difficult.

But it proved to be much more challenging than she ever thought.

Back here, in her hometown where she knew everyone, clients were not hard to come by. In the new city however, she had a lot fewer contacts and even fewer potential clients. And given that back here she had not really had to work too hard to get business, she never really learned about marketing, so that too was new.

Eventually, between the Not-So-Great Recession and the challenges of starting from scratch, she finally had to go to work for someone else.

One reason people start their own business is that they want all of the perks that come with being their own boss. The problem is, they may not be prepared for the “everything else” that being their own boss entails. Oh sure, it is easy to wax rhapsodic about the life of the entrepreneur, and you bet, I am more guilty than most of doing that: “Isn’t the independence great? Creating something from nothing is a thrill!” But . . .

To get those benefits, you have to be willing to pay the price.

What price is that, you ask?

Hard work: One thing I know about small business owners is that they usually put in a lot of time into their venture, way more than the standard 40-hour work week. They (mostly) do so willingly because the business is their baby, and as we all know, raising a baby takes time and commitment.

But it sure does get tiring sometimes, especially when your baby is crying and you don’t get enough sleep.

Giving up free time: Dovetailing with the hard work issue is that of giving up your free time, especially in the beginning. I interviewed a guy not long who created a successful Internet business. The quote that has stuck with me from that interview is, “I didn’t see my kids for two years.”

Talk about paying the piper.

Lack of steady income: Once your business is established, of course, it generates income on a steady basis, but even then, it is not guaranteed. The life of an entrepreneur is one in which he or she must constantly be creating revenue streams.

And that leads me to the next issue, namely,

Being the rainmaker, among many other things: When you are an employee, it is usually the job of the boss, or VP of development, or someone else, to bring in business. But when you are the boss, not only must you do the job of the business, but you need to be the rainmaker, too (among other duties).

Stress: We all have stress in our lives, and you better be prepared for more when the business is yours alone.

Is it worth it? For many, the answer is a resounding yes. But many is not the same as all. If you are going to be an entrepreneur, best to be sure that you appreciate the price you will pay.