Becoming a full-time entrepreneur is one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made. It’s exciting and fulfilling. And, it’s pretty awesome not answering to a boss in a boring 9-to-5 gig. While I wouldn’t change being an entrepreneur, it’s not always as glamorous as it’s portrayed.
Take, for example, these following five things that nobody has ever told you about becoming a full-time entrepreneur.
1. Enjoy the splendid isolation.
Whether it was when you were in school or starting out as a professional, there’s always been a network of people to help support you with advice, feedback or motivation. Whether it was a classmate who helped who you study for an exam or a colleague who showed you the ropes on your first day, you usually had someone there for you.
When you’re an entrepreneur, however, that’s not really the case. While there is something truly exciting and profound about being out on your own, it can be extremely lonely -- unless you have a partner or co-founder. Worst of all? Your friends and family won’t really understand the stress, frustration and loneliness you’re going through.
2. You need a lot of patience.
There’s a misconception that going into business for yourself means more free time and freedom. While an entrepreneur may not exactly be tied to a clock, we work a lot. And, it’s really challenging to keep putting in an insane amount of hours when your business isn’t making a profit. This means that you must have a ton of patience. In fact, it may take you years before your business makes a return. Facebook didn’t make a profit until five years after it was founded.
In fact, everything related to entrepreneurship takes a long time. Be prepared to put in long days for several years before you start seeing any sort of growth.
3. Don’t expect to get rich.
Entrepreneurship is often romanticized because of the success stories of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Richard Branson. The thing is, that’s not a common outcome for most entrepreneurs. In fact, 90 percent of all startups fail. So even if you do manage to succeed, that doesn’t mean that you’ll be worth millions of dollars. Remember, you’ll be the last to be paid because any profits have to be put back into the business.
While that could pay off in the end, since you don’t have to worry about upper management taking a cut of the profits, not having that consistent paycheck isn’t the best experience in the world. It definitely throws a monkey wrench into your work-love balance.
4. Depression is more common than people realize.
Entrepreneurs are known for being confident and passionate, but they can also experience depression, self-doubt, and anxiety. In fact, Ben Huh, the CEO of the Cheezburger Network humor websites openly discussed his suicidal thoughts after his first business failed in "When Death Feels Like a Good Option." Sean Percival, a former MySpace vice president and co-founder of the children's clothing startup Wittlebee, has written an article called "When It's Not All Good, Ask for Help."
When entrepreneurs experience these feelings, they tend to eat too much or too little and neglect exercise, which can affect your health. Thankfully, this topic is being discussed by more and more entrepreneurs.
5. You’re not necessarily your own boss.
You’ve probably heard that one of the best things about being an entrepreneur is that you’re your own boss. But, that’s not exactly true. Your customers are actually the boss. They make all decisions. If they decide not to purchase your product or service, then you’re out of business. Once you figure out how to answer the wants and needs of your customers, things can go a bit more smoothly.
However, if your startup takes off and you have a dedicated customer base, you’ll also have to answer to investors, board members, stockholders, and even a CEO if you decide that you can’t handle that responsibility.
Related: 10 Pitfalls of Being Your Own Boss