Dec 172012


Entrepreneurship Never Promised You A Rose Garden

It always surprises me when people tell me that entrepreneurship is tougher than they thought it would be!

In some ways I guess it’s not too surprising.  In the media, we hear a lot about extraordinarily successful entrepreneurs like Richard Branson.  We hear how they’ve made billions of dollars and we get a glimpse into the lives of luxury they’ve earned through their entrepreneurial toils.

What we don’t see as much in the media are the stories about the countless times such entrepreneurs have been knocked down and gotten back up.  Thus, the image we see in the media glorifies entrepreneurship and skews our perspective on what it takes to become successful as an entrepreneur.  That media image tends to underemphasize the importance of persistence in the stories of every successful entrepreneur.

So if entrepreneurship is not a “rose garden” but rather a constant and never ending challenge, why do we do it?  Answer this question honestly in your own case.  If you’re an entrepreneur, why have you signed up for a lifestyle that gets glorified, when in fact, for most entrepreneurs, it presents challenges beyond what they likely ever would have seen in a 9-5 job?

In my case, I’ve signed up to be an entrepreneur for a variety of reasons.  Here are a few that come immediately to mind:

1.)     I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was a young kid.  I’ve never seen myself as anything else.

2.)     I feel more comfortable as an entrepreneur than I do as an employee.

3.)     I’ve never bought into the notion of “job security”.  There may have been a time when you could expect to reach “gold watch” (upon retirement) years at one company, but those days are long gone.

4.)     I like the idea that my success or failure is driven in great part by the thought and effort I put into my endeavors.  Notice I didn’t say that it’s driven exclusively by my efforts, as I’m aware that in order to succeed as an entrepreneur, you need the help of a lot of people.

5.)     I like to work hard (and smart) and it gives me more satisfaction to know that the extraordinary effort I invest in my ventures will benefit me directly, rather than indirectly.

6.)     I’ve always felt like entrepreneurs are “my people”.  I admire and respect those who are willing to come up with an idea, launch it, and drive it toward success, even if the journey is not direct and there’s always some course correction necessary along the way.  I’ve always wanted to be one of those people.

7.)     I believe that without entrepreneurship our world would be a much less interesting place.  Think of one product or service you love and “can’t live without”.  A company that was started by an entrepreneur or a team of entrepreneurs provides that product or service.

8.)     I’ve always believed in free market economics.  There is no more effective force than competition to bring the highest and best products and services to the market, at a price the market is willing to pay.  The entrepreneur has to navigate that complex landscape.  That’s a great challenge and one that I enjoy.

9.)     As an entrepreneur, especially as one who has achieved some success, you have a tremendous opportunity to contribute to society and have a positive impact on a large number of people.

10.)   Life as an entrepreneur is hardly ever boring.  This is especially true if you are competing in a dynamic market, where the competition is constantly adapting to new customer demands.  Such an environment tends to bring a great deal of challenge and potential reward (financial and beyond), both of which appeal to me greatly.

If anyone ever promised you a rose garden as an entrepreneur, I hope you didn’t believe them.  But if you did, by now you’ve undoubtedly realized that their promise was unrealistic.  Hopefully you’ve also found that, despite the many challenges entrepreneurship brings, or perhaps because of them, being an entrepreneur is a great way to make a living and a meaningful contribution to society.  If not, I hope you are able to hang in there until you find a venture that brings you the satisfaction that entrepreneurship has brought me in my career.

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

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  • Great post Paul. It really is a great list as to why any of us enter into the foray of entrepreneurship.

  • Thanks, Peter. We’re all crazy, aren’t we?

  • Hi Paul, I love reading your articles. They reach to the core of our special category of “entrepreneurs” that understand the magic and mayhem behind each adventure. I too have been engaged in entrepreneurial opportunities since I was young. A father entrepreneur whom taught me by osmosis the process for success and failure raised me. It truly takes hard work, understanding the environment you which to embark along with pulling all of the required resources to take the concept from birth to market and beyond. It can be so satisfying when things go right and so damn frustrating when they go out of control and do not reach your level of anticipated success or goals toward that success. But we get up and learn from our mistakes toward the next one.

  • Thanks, Iris. I appreciate your taking the time to relate your entrepreneurial story. I really enjoy hearing from entrepreneurs, particularly about their mindset and how they “get up and learn from their mistakes”. There is no better way of thinking for an entrepreneur, as we know that not all projects go perfectly. That said, there is nothing more rewarding than when it all does come together.

  • Great post Paul! You mention in Point 9, that entrepreneurship has the potential to make a huge societal impact. Well, in Africa, where our business is located, we have the double (linked) challenge of high youth unemployment and low skills development. Using our business and our entrepreneurial drive to make a difference in both, is one of two things that really drive us. The other is to ensure clients get the best coffee experience… and yes, these two are directly linked too. Can “social” and “capitalist” entrepreneurship co-exist – Yes!

  • Thanks, Steve. I could not agree more — “social” and “capitalist” entrepreneurship can and do co-exist! I appreciate your sharing a little about how you’re trying to use your entrepreneurial drive not just to give your clients a great coffee experience and make a profit in the process, but also to help make a difference in your society and more specifically, in the lives affected by the high youth unemployment rate. I also appreciate how you used the word “linked” a couple of times in your comments, as undoubtedly, all that’s done in the entrepreneurship arena, positive and negative, is very much linked to all that is good and bad in our society. Sometimes the link is not direct or causal, but it exists nonetheless.

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  • BritainLoans

    I, too, have been thinking a lot about this recently. I’m an entrepreneur at heart, so I always have a million ideas for how to make money. But when I follow the “and then what?” trail, I always lead back to “I’d invest in payday lending”. Like, if I was a rock star and made millions… I would use my money to invest in wage day advance online services. I think it is a good mix to do both – build long term wealth but occasionally add short term income to pay off your own house or the properties you plan to hold faster.

  • Payday loans can be a good business. It’s crowded these days, but there’s plenty of demand for these services. Like any other business though, entrepreneurship is tough and “never promised you a rose garden”. You will have growing pains, just like every other business.

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  • Mark Murray

    Yes. Because you have to work for your success.