last updated 11/05/2024

Is being an entrepreneur worth it

Perhaps you’re considering making the leap and starting your own business.

It’s likely that reading about wildly successful entrepreneurs and the idea of quitting a boring job to work for yourself has motivated you.

However, you could be troubled by the numerous tales of failed businesses and question whether starting your own business will be worthwhile.

Before discussing the rewards of starting your own venture, let’s look at what it takes to get there and weigh up the chances of you making it unscathed.

The fact is, being an entrepreneur is not all fun and games and you can be sure that those who made it paid their dues in exhausting work, stress, and repeated failures.

Entrepreneurship is hard. Before you take the plunge, consider the following sobering realities.

1. You won’t make money in the beginning

For most businesses, the first few years are a financial struggle. You first have to set up your infrastructure and that takes money, which in all likelihood will be limited. In fact, you’ll be spending more than you earn, so for some time, there won’t be a paycheck for you.

You’ll have to survive on your savings or reserves for basic living expenses and forego all unnecessary expenses for months on end. And don’t think you can always raise capital for your business. It’s not that easy; you can’t depend on it.

2. Your personal life will suffer

Starting a business takes a financial toll and emotional toll that muddies personal relationships. It is inevitable, no matter how good your intentions are.

You will constantly be distracted by your business and the various challenges it is facing, and you will be working long hours.

These factors will make you emotionally and physically unavailable much of the time.

It is the experience of being an entrepreneur that no matter how hard they try to prioritize their relationships, their work commitments and the constant financial strain take its toll eventually.

3. You’ll be on an emotional rollercoaster most of the time

The ups and downs of trying to get a business off the ground are emotionally exhausting. For people who are not emotionally stable, this can be very hard to deal with.

Even people who usually are level-headed are thrown by unforeseen setbacks, difficult work relationships, and the constant pressure to perform and succeed.

Depression and other mental health issues are common among entrepreneurs.

Research has shown that being an entrepreneur you will likely experience more depression (30%), ADHD (29%), substance use (12%), and bipolar disorder (11%) than comparison participants.

In addition, 32% of the entrepreneurs in the study reported having two or more mental health conditions, while 18% of them reported having three or more mental health conditions.

4. Wearing too many hats will take its toll on you

In the beginning, a founder has to do everything as there are no funds to pay others to take on some of the tasks.

The reality is that often you won’t have time to do the work you love so much you want to turn it into a business.

 You’ll prefer to do that, but you’ll have to do any number of other things to get your business off the ground, many of them tasks you are not interested in at all or not very good at.

You’ll be product developer, accountant, marketer, fundraiser, manager of workers, and more, all with diverging demands on your time and abilities.

After a few months of this, you may feel so torn apart that you may consider giving up and walking away.

5. Your best-laid plans will fail

You knew before you took the plunge that you must do your research and have a proper business plan. You did your due diligence and planned everything carefully.

Then life happens and you find that you didn’t foresee everything. You couldn’t have.

A week after you gave up your steady job and started on your venture, COVID-19 forced country-wide lockdowns. You couldn’t have foreseen that.

Suppliers go bankrupt, key staff resign, customers change their behavior, and suddenly your business plan is no longer viable.

Entrepreneurship demands flexibility and the ability to adapt. This is one of the aspects that makes this life choice so challenging.

6. You’ll be forced to make difficult decisions

As CEO of your own business, that buck stops with you, forcing you to make decisions that you will always wish you could have avoided.

You’ll make difficult decisions that will keep you up at night, wondering if you made the right decision.

You’ll constantly question your judgment when faced with whether to take on a partner or part ways with one, to change the company direction, give up part of your equity, or get rid of people you have depended on for some time.

These are difficult decisions that will stay with you and make you doubt yourself on so many levels.

7. You are constantly faced with the prospect of failure

It is tough to stay positive and believe in yourself and your idea if you know that anything can happen at any time to cause you to fail in spite of your best efforts to succeed.

Veteran entrepreneurs constantly proclaim this mantra: failure is an inevitable part of entrepreneurship.

Okay, your company may not go under, but something will go wrong; failure of some kind is bound to happen. The ever-present prospect of something going wrong is incredibly challenging.

To recover from failure when it happens is hard and requires flexibility and inner strength. Some founders never recover and give up.

Now that you are under the impression of some of the more brutal realities of starting and owning a business, let’s look at the rewards of entrepreneurship.

In the light of the abovementioned hardships and sacrifices, is it worth it to become an entrepreneur?

I would say it certainly is, provided you are realistic about what it will require from you.

The rewards of entrepreneurship

  1.  A deep sense of satisfaction

Bringing your own idea to market is incredibly satisfying. Only entrepreneurs have the experience of coming up with something unique that didn’t exist before and offering it to the world.

It brings a sense of accomplishment to see something that you have conceptualized brought to market and serving others.

Entrepreneurs solve the world’s big problems, making the world a better place. It doesn’t get any better than that.

  • You can create a career that aligns with your values

Aligning your personal values with what you do for a living can be intensely satisfying. Entrepreneurs are in the unique position that they can create products or services that benefit society and solve problems that otherwise would go unattended.

Entrepreneurs don’t wait for governments to solve environmental, social, health, educational and other challenges. They apply their minds to the issue and come up with ways to solve it for society at large. It’s entrepreneurs who found a way to make cars that don’t pollute the air, organisms that eat plastic, and make water out of thin air.

Entrepreneurship offers a way to live an authentic life that serves society.

  • Autonomy

A primary motive that is driving entrepreneurship is job autonomy. People are tired of listening to others telling them what to do.

Autonomy refers to the sense of discretion, freedom, and independence to take responsibility for your own development and realization of your personal goals.

Research shows that workers who have more control over their work are more engaged, experience less stress, and experience more job satisfaction. It is inherently satisfying to be your own boss.

  • Determine your own schedule

To be clear, this perk will only become a reality once your business is off to a good start. Until that point, you’ll be working longer hours than you have ever before.

Once your business is up and running, you can set your own schedule and plan your working day as it suits you.

Determining your own work schedule is part of the autonomy you earn when you work for yourself.

  • Choosing who to work with

One of the things that make working in the corporate world a real pain is having to deal with people you would otherwise not bother with. You simply have to get on with everyone in your workplace no matter how objectionable they are.

Being the boss of your own enterprise, you can choose who you employ to work with you, and you can choose the companies you deal with. In the early days, you may not always have as much freedom as you would like, but as the company grows and your position becomes more prominent, you’ll have more freedom of choice.

  • Doing what you love for a living

Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy; it’s a lot of hard work, but if you are working at something you really love, it makes all the difference.

All the long hours and many sacrifices are worth it when you believe in what you do. In fact, most people enjoy their side-hustles more than their full-time jobs.

Just as hating what you do is bad for your mental, emotional and physical health, so is doing what you love of great benefit to you. The stress that you do experience during the course of establishing and running your business will be offset by the love you have for what you are devoting your professional time to.

  • Live and work from anywhere

Depending on the type of business you start, you may be able to become a digital nomad, working from anywhere in the world.

Many entrepreneurs combine travel with their online business and work from hotels, resorts, camping sites, cafés, and co-working spaces.

You have the freedom to visit a relative or a friend in another country and take your work with you. As long as you have a reliable internet connection and meet your deadlines, you’ll keep earning wherever you are.

  • Potentially unlimited income

Starting a new venture is risky, and the chances of failure are high, but if you do succeed, your earning potential is unlimited.

Entrepreneurship can make you very wealthy, but very few entrepreneurs become multimillionaires. Becoming an entrepreneur is risky, but the potential rewards are also high. The earning potential, at least, is higher than most other careers.

A sobering thought

When we think of an entrepreneur, we tend to think of the big players that have made megabucks like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.

But creating companies of such magnitude is not the only choice open to people. In fact, it’s not something that most people want to take on. Loads of people don’t seek fame and don’t see billions in the bank as the road to happiness.

When you consider entrepreneurship, you have a choice; you can start an online business that would earn you $200,000 – $500,000 a year, without having to employ anyone and allowing you to work from anywhere in the world.

Or you could start and run a potentially big business with the aim to eventually earn mega millions. But that comes at a price: you’ll have to go through several funding rounds, keep investors happy, manage employees, work 70+ hours a week and deal with the constant stress of high expectations.

The problem with the second option is that, in the end, it doesn’t feel like freedom to do what you want. It generates many responsibilities that take away the freedom you thought you were gaining when you decided to start your own enterprise.

Final thoughts

Nothing worth doing is easy.

The entrepreneurship journey is also not easy and requires many sacrifices. And there’s the constant reminder that most startups fail.

But, if you prepare well, have a good support system and believe in yourself and what you have to offer, there is no reason why you shouldn’t succeed. When all is said and done, being an entrepreneur is certainly worth it.

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