Entrepreneurship has become romanticized over the years. There are so many messages in the media about the entrepreneur lifestyle and how much entrepreneurs are enjoying life. While entrepreneurs are certainly not leading miserable lives you may find that the dream sold differs from the reality delivered. Let’s look at some of the dreams that are sold as part of entrepreneurship and the reality that comes with them.
Be your own boss
One of the biggest reasons entrepreneurship is revered is being your own boss. There’s a belief that the entrepreneur is completely in charge of everything in the organization. Nothing could be further from the truth. Entrepreneurs are not their own bosses, they work for their customers. And while this may sound better than working for your grumpy lazy boss just remember that the customer is a boss who shouts at you very little when you make mistakes or fail to meet expectations but will fire you by closing their wallet to you.
Master of your own time
As an entrepreneur you’re told, you won’t have to go by anyone else’s clock. You can wake up at 9 and sip coffee as you surf through social media and update your Instagram with weekend pictures. The reality is entrepreneurs are not only up somewhere between 4 and 5 am but they are working long days. While this is a choice it is a choice necessitated by the conditions of entrepreneurship which are demanding.
Take breaks when you want
If you’re an entrepreneur and you’re reading this I’m guessing you laughed a little or a lot. The idea that entrepreneurs can just schedule the world around their lives and go for a round of golf at any time is quite popular. The reality, however, is that your time doesn’t belong to you as we alluded to earlier and furthermore you don’t get to schedule breaks just like that. The job of coordinating the many different cigs in the system means you hardly get breaks. Let alone choose when to take them.
I’m sure this one resonates with many. The entrepreneur avenue is sold as a way to access unlimited income while employment is characterized as a limited income pursuit. Anyone who’s been doing this long enough has realized that while that is theoretically correct the facts on the ground could not agree less. Yes, there’s the potential but realizing that potentially takes a lot more than a great product and your entrepreneurial story.
Doing what you love
You hated maths in school and that one stint with introductory accounting was enough accounting for you in life cause all you wanted to do was pursue your chosen vocation. Now you’re an entrepreneur, ready to do what you love. There’s just one tiny problem that nobody mentioned; you have to do a whole lot of stuff you don’t love too. Perhaps you’re shy and introverted and you’ve never really been good at talking yourself up, to strangers at that. Perhaps you favour technical tasks like crunching numbers or designing your software but not really engaging with people. Entrepreneurship is about organizing a system, a system of processes to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Making an impact
This is a tough one. As entrepreneurs, we are told to look up to the likes of Struce Masiyiwa, Richard Branson and Patrice Motsepe. They have made a humongous impact in the lives of many millions of people and that is one of the greatest carrots in the entrepreneurship story. When you start your business however you are likely to perhaps feel that you fall short in this part and that’s a best-case scenario. You might even receive backlash as you attempt the new. And while you will help, it may be just a drop in a considerable ocean. This is a bitter pill to swallow and money who enter the entrepreneurship wide-eyed and optimistic of blowing up soon realize very slow growth and little impact.
It’s not work if you enjoy it
Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. We’ve all heard the saying I hope. It certainly can seem that way from the outside looking in as entrepreneurs seem to have limitless energy zeal for their work, their products, their businesses. This is another misnomer. I already talked about entrepreneurship involving doing a whole lot of stuff you may not like in order to the stuff you love. In addition to that work done is work done and while Tafadzwa may love the work more than Kuda, their backs are complaining just as much as each other at the end of the day.
There are many things to consider if you’re contemplating entrepreneurship. If you’re in your early stages and meeting some of these challenges you may need to engage in some expectation management to pace yourself. The dream is free, the hustle is sold separately.