“If it were easy, everyone would do it.” – Tom Hanks
If you’ve been following my blog for the past few weeks I’m sure you’ve noticed my permanent mindset of working smart and working often. To be a successful entrepreneur, investor, or anything else desirable, you need to be willing to sacrifice — time, pleasure, security, etc. You must understand the sacrifices involved in achieving greatness before diving in, and today I want to highlight a few of the most important in an effort to show how easy (or hard) it can be.
Entrepreneurship is not predicated on giving up time for things that truly matter (family, your health, etc.), but giving up pieces of everything else. Although the final result of years of hard work seems lavish, the social events missed, lack of free time & weekends, non-existent security, and scarce sleep will definitely dim the prospective light. To achieve something that only few can, you must be willing to act in a way that only a few will.
Here are some things that you may encounter on your journey as an entrepreneur, take them with a grain of salt of course, but understand that being willfully blind to them will only lead to a very difficult future. These ideas are a collection of different written-about struggles with my own insights attached. If the list below seems like something you can manage, maybe even master, consider yourself a step ahead already.
Nothing about building a company, brand or vision is comfortable, and the first few years will probably be the hardest you’ve ever experienced. If your intentions are to start a company so you can relax at home or have no set schedule, don’t waste your time. Now that you’re in charge, all of the decision-making and responsibility of the venture falls on your head. You need to be prepared to handle a thousand difficult things a day and wake up the next morning excited to do it again. You must work like someone is always on your tail in order to stay ahead, which although daunting, is sound advice to live by.
After years of hard work, planning, and growth, money shouldn’t be an issue. In the first several though, learn to like the taste of ramen. This isn’t to say that certain entrepreneurs don’t strike it rich (Dollar Shave Club, recent tech startups, etc.), but your expectation can’t be to make a million in a year, nor should you give up if things are moving slower than you expect. Before diving in, try to build a cash reserve for the potential difficulties — something that you can lean on to support your vision. Life as an entrepreneur will be very easy on the upsides, it’s those who can survive the downsides that will make a name for themselves.
3. Relationships & Social Life
I stress that you understand the difference between the relationships that matter and those that don’t. As an entrepreneur, your time will be very stretched, meaning that you need to make the most of each minute. Be sure to keep time for family, loved ones, and close friends, as well as business contacts of course, but realize that partying/clubbing on the weekends/etc. are a waste of both your time and money. If someone feels that they can live a normal life (party/drink every weekend) and still be a huge success, don’t let them drag you in. You are your only competition — the more you work now, the further ahead you will get.
4. Free Time
An entrepreneurs life isn’t separate from their work, and often times the blur between the two will make it seem as though you’re always on the clock. Ensure to keep a balance of mental/physical health, but don’t waste effort trying to keep work and personal separate, it just won’t happen. You should be passionate about what you’re doing, making your time spent at the office more like personal time and your time spent away like extended lunch breaks.
5. Personal Wants
Doubling down on the sacrifice heading, you need to be willing to give up the consumer-driven life your living in order to truly succeed. Don’t focus on what others around you are doing or buying and understand that everything you want today will be different in six months, your ventures success always staying atop the list. You need to have the self-control to set aside your personal desires (trips/new cars/new houses) until you feel that you’re actually ready to make those financial commitments.
A quote that summarizes this idea perfectly – “You can’t afford it until you can buy it twice” – Jay-Z
A quote that you should keep dear to you – “You don’t want what your friends want, so why do you give a
fuck about what they have.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
6. Momentary Sanity
Entrepreneurs need to be crazy enough in their ways and confident enough in their convictions to make it through the inevitable struggle. Along the path to success, you’re going to face plenty of bumps and downs that must be dealt with effectively. Before making the commitment, assess whether or not you think you have the mental strength to survive the tough times. If not, don’t give up on trying, simply find a way to strengthen your mind and get back to work. You need to build mind-calluses through experience to allow for sanity and strength during struggles.
If after reading this you feel excited, or maybe even motivated, because you think that you possess the qualities of a sound entrepreneur, stop looking for an excuse and get to work.