The Dark Side Of Entrepreneurship And How To Survive It

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The thought of going into business or doing ‘your own thingas it is popularly called can be very appealing at first. This

How do you survive the dark side of entrepreneurship?

is especially true for most people who want to make the switch from the limited world of employment to the unlimited world of business. But sooner or later, the untold harsh realities will begin to set in and the truth is; a lot of people are unfamiliar with these harsh realities.

 

For the majority of you who have gone into business nurturing only the juicy thoughts of being an entrepreneur, things are about to get very sour. I’m sorry, but there’s some really bad news I need to break to you; entrepreneurship as much as it’s celebrated also has a dark side. At least, I’ve been able to identify 8 of them.

 

I’m sure at the end of this, more will come up from your contributions and that of others in the comment section. Coming to terms with this dark side of entrepreneurship is what this unusual article is about.

 

8 Harsh Realities Of Being An Entrepreneur

(1) Entrepreneurs get paid last

(2) Entrepreneurs are objects of mockery

(3) Entrepreneurs don’t have definite working hours

(4) Entrepreneurs fail more often than they succeed

(5) Entrepreneurs don’t have specific job descriptions

(6) Entrepreneurs go broke for long before ever growing rich

(7) Entrepreneurs attract more enemies than friends

(8) Entrepreneurs make their living by giving

 

Entrepreneurs get paid last

I usually enjoy seeing the reaction on people’s face every time I make that statement. It is one of the most effective ways of differentiating a true entrepreneur from a ‘wannabe’. Why? Because you can instantly perceive what their real motivation is for going into business. For those with a get-rich-quick mentality, their level of disappointment is usually obvious. But for those who really want to change the world through the power of their idea, they often appear indifferent.

 

Nobody wants to be the last when it comes to the issue of money, but unfortunately for entrepreneurs, this is one of the realities they have to put up with. Being an entrepreneur often demands that you give up everything you own all in pursuit of an idea whose potentials of success is not 100% certain. Yet, as an entrepreneur, when your idea eventually succeeds, you’ll be the last person to be rewarded from the very idea you invented. This is the harsh reality of entrepreneurs’ going broke for a long time before ever growing rich. What makes this so?

 

The Incubation period of your idea

That idea which often inspires your journey into the world of business will be tried, refined and must be sustained for a very long time before it will eventually hit the mainstream. Every idea must undergo its own incubation period till it reveals its potential for success.

 

During this period, every other person but the entrepreneur must be paid in order to sustain the idea in this initial startup stage. Employees, contractors, suppliers, marketers, consultants, even customers and other collaborators that will be involved in making the idea work will have to be paid for their involvement, except you the entrepreneur.

 

As an entrepreneur, you are the mother of your idea and the burden of preserving, nurturing and delivering the idea rests entirely on your shoulders. Your first test as you make your entry into the world of business is the test of your idea. No one is going to buy into your idea easily. So you’ll have to sweat it out all by yourself to prove the viability of your idea.

 

This process of proving your idea’s viability is what delays your payment or reward date because it will cost you so many things, both in kind and in cash. Why? Because very few people will work with you during this process for free. As far as they are concerned, your idea is still a foetus and not yet a living entity [brand].

 

Meaning, the possibility of your business idea surviving is not yet certain, just as every mother knows that until a baby is delivered, anything that can possibly go wrong can still happen. This is the harsh reality of entrepreneurs’ high rate of failing more often than succeeding.

 

It’s your job to nurture your idea till maturity

Like a baby in the womb, your idea must be nurtured or else it will die prematurely. The whole cost associated with preserving, nurturing and sustaining your idea till maturity will be borne by you the entrepreneur. Therefore, in the early days of your business, you will continuously be spending money long before you even start making a penny.

 

To survive these early days, you must become as a farmer who must cultivate the seed which was planted till it germinates and is fully ripe for harvest. Surviving these early days is your ultimate test as an entrepreneur.

 

How do you sustain yourself when you’ve given up everything you own to pursue this idea? How do you survive till pay day? What keeps you going during this challenging phase of your business? How do you survive when the very idea that is supposed to be your means of sustenance is counting on you for sustenance?

 

Feed on passion!

Passion is what keeps you going till pay day –that sheer joy of creativity that comes with doing something you love.

 

When everything else seems to be lingering in these early days of your business, go back in your mind to the very moment you conceived the idea for the business. That sudden rush of adrenaline you felt when you first had the thought for the business is what you must keep in front of you during these dark phase of your business.

 

This is your only chance of surviving till pay day. This will keep you going when everything else seems to be failing. Passion is the fuel you need constantly for traveling down this rough road of entrepreneurship. A lot of people who aren’t entrepreneurs will find it hard relating with this level of living and this is why most of the time, entrepreneurs are called crazy, daydreamers, misfits or even fools. This is the harsh reality of being an object of mockery.

 

You’ve just got to hang in there living off the conviction that your idea will survive till maturity. That maturity date of your idea is when it eventually becomes a recognized brand in the market you serve. So be sure the idea you are working on is one that you are naturally passionate about, not just because of the money or profit it can generate, but because of the difference [impact] it is going to make in the lives of those you serve. This is the harsh reality of making a living by giving.

 

If your idea lacks the potential to make a positive impact in the lives of your target market, when the going gets tough, you won’t find it hard to back out. Why on earth would you want to hold on to a thing that is neither making you money [profit] nor making you happy [passion] nor making live better for others [impact]?

 

Over to you

Have you ever found yourself caught up in the dark side of entrepreneurship?

Are there any other harsh realities of entrepreneurship familiar to you?

What other challenges do you face as an entrepreneur in business?

How have you been able to cope with some of these harsh realities of entrepreneurship?

 

We are a community of entrepreneurs supporting one another, it’s important you participate in the on going discussion by sharing your insights about the questions above.

 

Thanks for your time.

To your business success!

 

 

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Comments

  1. John R. Sedivy says:

    Well said. I had this very same experience when starting as an entrepreneur. A couple of additional insights I discovered along the way, the first relates to an earlier statement in your article: “Because very few people will work with you during this process for free.” Nor should they. I found that value must be exchanged, even if it is the form of an equity stake in the company, deferred compensation, or even bartering services. Value must be recognized and appreciated.

    Second, I discovered that the original idea is seldom the end result. The initial idea is merely a starting point which will evolve over time as do you and your team. The world evolves and so to must the idea in order to survive and proper.

    Great insights!

    • John,
      Your comment was really awesome. I particularly liked the real no BS straight talk about finding a way to pay anyone who works with your during the incubation period of your idea, value for value. Some people think otherwise and then they wonder why their business doesn’t succeed. You cannot enjoy the help of others without being helpful to them in return. Life is an exchange, nothing is really free.

      Secondly, that the original idea you set out to make happen changes is also true. And I think this is a lesson for start up entrepreneurs who are not so sure about their ideas viability. The only way to test the viability of an idea is to put it out in the open and gather market feedback, this is how the idea gets modified into an eventual success.

      It’s good to have you here John. I like your insight. Thanks.

  2. ogunlowo oluwaseun says:

    hey MADphilips.!this blog is a bomb.!!!.i love it.keep moving on sir.

  3. Nice piece, Phil.

  4. The harsh reality is that I quit my job and now my paycheck…oh wait…there is no paycheck!

    I am trying to avoid some of those problems however by setting up a system where I do no owe money to employees before any money is coming in, because that is a huge drain on many businesses. I am also trying to establish by giving first. Of course I will elaborate more wen the time is right on my blog :)

    Thankfully I haven’t had to experience any mockery yet, and I really wouldn’t pay much attention to it if I did. That is why it is extremely important to surround yourself with the right people!

    • Eugene,
      You are one real case study of what we are talking about here.
      Every time I think about your audacious step from the corporate world into the uncertain world of business, I just give you thumbs up!

      You are a real one bro.. and I admire your courage. Hang on there and I know you’ve got what it takes, success is definite.

      Thanks for coming out here to join in the discussion.

  5. Hi Tito

    Thankyou for telling it as it is. So many posts out there giving the idea that having your own business somehow is a silver bullet to success!

    I have had many bumps in the road on this journey. As you rightly say, more people fail than succeed. For me it is about having passion for my business. Also perseverence and patience to keep going cos success is just round the corner :-)

    And yes it is hard work. But I am enjoying learning, connecting with other entrepreneurs and also having the satisfaction of sharing products with my customers.

    Patricia Perth Australia

    • Hello Pat,
      It’s good to know you also feel the same way about this.
      The sweet talk out there is just so annoying and many go into business with the silver bullet mindset and end up being hurt than happy.

      Passion, persistence and patience are great virtues to hang on to in this journey. It’s great being in the company of real entrepreneurs like yourself.

      Thanks for the contribution.

  6. David@sciatica relief says:

    This is David. Hello to all. As I am new to the internet and blogging in particular,I have a lot to sort out and to learn. Thankfully, bloggers are some of the classiest and most informative people anywhere. I need all of the information I can get and this post helps a whole lot. Thank You for posting this. I am determined to hang in there because I believe in the process.

  7. Hi Tito,
    I love this article. Thank you for sharing this side of being an entrepreneur. For some people success comes quickly, but for most it trickles in. With patience, persistence and hard work I am working my way out of this “dark side.” :-)

    • Thank you Lisa for stopping by here and sharing your thoughts with the community.
      Certainly, patience, hard work and persistence are some of the right virtues to hang on to in times when our entrepreneurial journey becomes a tough.

  8. You spoke the truth here Tito. It’s not all pretty and glamorous. It’s this side that has led me to have one-foot in and one-foot out of my entrepreneurial journey. I’ll share one little story that I was reminded of when I read this, in relation to getting paid last!

    My business in the real estate sector was starting to do pretty good. [I don't like to throw out numbers, because I think it's seen as a form of posturing, but I'm going to here just to keep the story on point.] So, I had my first 5-figure month and closed the month with $15k in closed business. But the month prior I had utilized some consulting services, and outsourcing to get some project off the ground (neither contributed me to me earning that money). Well, what do you know, I had to pay them off, which consumed a large chunk of my stack (most of it).

    It was a lesson that taught me to manage my expenses better and to be more resourceful in a financial way. I learned the lesson quickly, because I didn’t want to be handing over half of my stack when I was essentially doing most of the work.

    I actually can share a story from all eight of these points – but because I’m limited on time, I have to keep this bad boy short.

    Great post Tito – keep the fire coming!

    PEACE

    • JK,
      Thanks for sharing this practical experience of how entrepreneurs get paid last in the world of business. Not many people will openly admit this bitter reality, but then it isn’t about what we choose to accept or not, it’s just plain reality. Business is much tougher and takes a whole lot of bitter pills to swallow than most will like to come to terms with.

      The idea is often the easy part, bringing it to reality is where the rubber meets the road and here is where the dark side of entrepreneurship becomes a reality.

      Thank you again for this wonderful story. Much appreciated bro.

    • Tito, your thought and insights for entrepreneurs is spot on and brilliant.

      Entrepreneurship is not for the weak or timid. It will eat your lunch.

      It’s good to see you here JK… I haven’t seen you around lately, nor have I received any of your blog posts via email. I’m a simple guy and that is where I work out of.

      I just went to make sure I’m subscribed, but Godaddy is down for the count!

      I will check it again once its back up, sir.

      You gentlemen rock n’ roll – cheers!

  9. Hi,

    One point that is related to being the subject of mockery, is the ability to digest constructive criticism. Friends are usually more than willing to provide feedback on an idea and the entrepreneur should be able to keep an open mind and weigh all of the opinions that they have received.

    – Jeff Boggs

    • Nice one Jeff!

      Constructive criticism is useful indeed for entrepreneurs. Especially at the crucial start up phase of their entrepreneurial journey. Some ideas would be mocked at, shifting out useful feedback can help refine our ideas.

      Thank you Jeff!

  10. Tito
    The dark side of the entrepreneur is an article for me i liked it very much,its so closed to my heart.And i m kindly asking for your e-mail.. I want to ask you about something that is business related.
    Or even better do you have a facebook account where by we can talk to you 1st hand.

  11. i was find your unusual article awfully appealing that i cant avoid a day not visiting and reading them because since i discover this site, it always capsule i cant do away with. all my prayer is that God will always be with you Tito. you are indeed a blessing to this generation. I LOVE YOU DEARLY. remain bless in in Jesus name. Shittu Kehinde David. Pls anytime i want to launch my unusual products i will like you present. i beg. thanks.

  12. Hi,
    Mine is a start up business story, left a well paying job because i saw a gap in the market and thought, the best way to achieve what i want is to take a plunge so that i can focus and be there for the business to grow.
    I have eaten into all my savings and loan and im at the dark side of this journey …no money to pay workers and spending sleepless nights. I however have serious hopes for the business and potential in this market.
    Its a very educative journey and even though i dont have crazy sales, im looking at a promising future.
    I would like somebody who has been in my spot at this moment in business where payments are taking too long and employees are very quickly getting demotivated, i cant push them to go out and bring in more business while there’s an elephant in the room but no one is talking about it…
    I feel very low but yet hopes are very high.

    Thanks

    J

  13. Not on only is this a great piece of information I have never seen someone respond so actively to all those who speak their mind. Well done and thanks

  14. Heather MacInnis says:

    I have to agree. I chose to be self-employed after enduring an horrific 2 years in a nightmare employment situation. I promised myself that I would never work for anyone but myself again (and believe me, I was not raised to think that way.)

    I worked my ass off for the next couple of years, and built up my cleaning business until I was in a position to support my daughters and myself without help (which I didn’t have, since my ex felt that he didn’t have to take responsibility for either our children, or his previous, either).

  15. Ashwin Singh says:

    I have ideas, great ideas and sometimes when the going gets tough, I dream about the future that I am successful, my ideas are really successful and then deep inside I feel the assurance that everything is going to be good, its certain, I just have to stick in there in these hard times. And then I am back on track, crazy again.

  16. The topic jumps right at you.My colleagues and I discussed this same topic by Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries in our MBA class and i doubt whether our discussions brought out the poignancy of the subject the way you have done.It resonates personally with me because of my experience with entrepreneurship much early in my life.i became an entrepreneur at the age of 27 along three of childhood friends.They were working full time then leaving me alone to carry the ‘can’ literarily. The experience left us bruised,more so with the fact that funding was limited,but our passion as young,enterprising,men was infectious.We were proud to be employers of labour ,contributing to the country’s economy but it was not being fair to us. We turned every where,i mean every where to funding for expansion to no avail.Being an entrepreneur can be lonely;more lonely especially when bills are mounting to be paid and yet ? You see possibilities every where yet are despondent because of the numerous problems thrown your way by the system.We began questioning our dream of being young investors;of whether we were not insane to be doing this at this young age when our mates were busy with youth stuff-being young and free.But the fire burnt till we couldn’t cope any more.What was the problem? Lack of working capital,majorly;liquid working capital and that was our Achilles hill; and we closed shop three years after.Then what? Well, good news I am still in the business twenty something years after nurturing another enterprise.When the bug of entrepreneurship seizes you, you are hooked.I just hoped reward came sooner than later.

    • Thanks Bomo for this interesting feedback. Every entrepreneur has got a story to tell about the burden of entrepreneurship. It’s definitely a road less traveled and a journey NOT for the weak!

  17. Well said Tito. I have also learnt that in business one has to exchange value fairly.

    I also refer to your issue of business goals should be people focussed. Goals should make people happy. At one time we breached working procedures while on a project and we got suspended from participating in new projects. Our client thus was not happy and we failed to satisfy one of the reasons for setting up the business; ie to make people happy and it cost us.

  18. hi,
    Nice work Tito, I find your writings quite rich in context.
    I’m also a young entrepreneur of a start-up(1yr and 26days) and your points about the dark side is so spot on. I ventured into an idea that is novel in my environment and as much as everyone commends that its great, the millions aren’t rolling in yet! every funding comes from my pocket, but I believe that the incubation period will mature and it will coast.
    To manage finances I agree and practice exchanging value, having credibility also helps(always keep your side of the bargain and most most people will offer their services on discounts or delayed compensation)
    I also didnt hire anyone fulltime, did most of the work myself and then hired out on freelance,commission bases, also worked from home.
    most importantly, PASSION! if you dont have that then you have no business starting a business.
    thanks

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