8 Reasons Why You Should Not Be an Entrepreneur
You'll hate #3 if you love brunch...
Being an entrepreneur seems like fun, right?
It’s about being whisked away on private jets, making millions just months after launching your business and posting memes about how you ”Love to hustle and are #killingit!”
Choosing the path of entrepreneurship is choosing a dark, bumpy, twisted road, where at the end a train is silently speeding right at you with its lights off.
People talk a lot about how amazing it is to be an entrepreneur, but they often leave out the uncomfortable parts — aka the cold hard truth.
In life, knowing the reasons to not do something can be just as valuable as knowing the reasons to do them.
So in the spirit of keeping things real, and to help put things into perspective for any budding entrepreneurs out there, here are eight reasons why entrepreneurship might not be for you.
1. You think Instagram is real life
Watching stories of private jets, lavish vacations, fancy meals and Lambos is cool, but that’s not real life for most entrepreneurs.
If you believe that’s what entrepreneurship entails, then you’re in for a soul-crushingly rude awakening.
I’ve seen, firsthand, entrepreneurs on Instagram who have taken “fake it till you make it” to extremes.
Every real business, and the entrepreneur behind it, is faced with daily hair-pulling struggles, gut-wrenching twists and deathly pitfalls. Most people, however, aren’t keen on showing you the downfalls and the bad times that happen behind the scenes.
2. There are no scapegoats
When things go wrong (and they inevitably will), it’s 100% on you and you alone. Everything is your fault. It’s just part of the gig.
When we launched our first tech product years ago, it crashed due to an influx of eager users. It was my fault that it crashed. Sure, technically it was a collective effort from the engineers, designers and product people ... but it was my company and my product, so it was my fault.
We received tens of thousands of scathing messages from pissed off users, all within a few hours time. I was forced to troubleshoot in real time and put together a strategy in order to fix the problem on both the engineering and customer support fronts. There’s no supervisor, manager, director or ‘head of’ anything to look to when things go horribly wrong. Bottom line: You’re accountable. You better put on your problem-solving cap and figure it out.
3. Weekends don’t exist
“No days off” is a real thing. If you live for the weekend, entrepreneurship isn’t for you. There’s no such thing as ‘checking out’ at 5pm on Friday and ‘checking in’ 9am on Monday. You never checkout. Ever. This is your life — Every. Single. Day. What’s the difference between a Tuesday and Saturday for me? Not much. I don’t believe in burning yourself out — that’s not beneficial to anyone ... but I do believe in always staying on top of things. I think about and cater to my business 365 days a year. If you can’t wrap your head around that concept, stay put doing what you’re doing.
4. You don’t have thick skin
Striking out on your own is scary and not everyone will agree with your decision — including and especially your friends and family.
If you allow these negative opinions to sway you and easily influence your choices before you’ve even gotten started, you’ll have an impossibly difficult time running a business. You’ll have to make hundreds of business-defining decisions every day, so if you constantly second-guess yourself based on other people’s opinions, you’ll end up miserable.
I’ve learned to develop incredibly thick skin. From being told my ideas are too far-fetched, getting hundreds of rejections from investors, to being told that something was not possible for me to do. That stuff just rolls off my back now. Be maniacal about what you’re building and always believe in yourself.
5. The word ‘sacrifice’ isn’t in your vocab
I’m not talking about sacrificing your weekly $35 boxing class; that’s easy.
I’m talking about selling all of your belongings, being late on rent, forgoing all vacations and holidays, never hanging out with your friends and putting every last penny you have into what you’re building.
In the early days, I sold my clothes, shoes and furniture. I missed paying my rent (more than once) and I had my bank account go into the negatives. I sacrificed EVERYTHING not knowing if what lies ahead will be worth it.
I’m not unique in any way. These are things that many entrepreneurs have had to sacrifice when they first got started. The craziest part is that you can sacrifice all of that and still not make it. So, are you down for a round of Russian roulette?
6. Participation trophies don’t exist
You don’t get pats on the back for showing up, doing your job and successfully maneuvering through the ups and downs. That’s the bare minimum expected of you. I noticed early on that some of the most successful people I ever met had a peculiar quirk about them. They spent an incredibly short amount of time celebrating their wins. By the time the champagne cork hit the ground, they were already on to the next thing. Some of them didn’t even pop the champagne...
If you require constant approval and validation for the work you do, or if you get easily discouraged and unmotivated when people aren’t telling you that you’re great, keep it moving. You don’t get gold stars for doing your job as an entrepreneur. Quite frankly, you shouldn’t get gold stars anywhere for doing the bare minimum.
7. You crave security and stability
Those are two things that are definitely NOT guaranteed.
Being an entrepreneur means there is no safety net and you don’t know if tomorrow will be amazing, or if s*** will hit the fan. You’re walking a tightrope 100ft above a volcano that can erupt at any time. I’ve been through a pandemic, tough competition, lack of funds and there was no other way out but forward. It’s all or nothing. You inherently take on giant risks by going down this path, so make sure you can handle the inescapable unpredictability.
8. You only care about getting rich
You won’t last long if that’s why you chose to be an entrepreneur.
You need to really want to create something great for people and you need to be passionate about what you do. You could go years before striking gold, so you better believe in what you’re doing.
I went 4 years without getting a paycheck from my companies, so that I could keep as much of the money in my businesses, for as long as I possibly could. Eventually, lawyers told me that I’m breaking the law by not getting paid as an employee of my company and strongly recommended that I pay myself. I reluctantly took a small salary.
I’m currently the least paid person in my entire company. I know that won’t be the case forever, but I know that my salary is the least important thing at this very moment. All of that is to say, I don't do any of this just for the money and neither should you. If you work hard to be the best at what you do and bring value to people's lives, the money will eventually follow.
If none of these eight reasons scared you, then…Congratulations! You made the cut.
Courtne Smith is a technology entrepreneur and the Founder & CEO of decision-making app NewNew. NewNew is backed by the likes of Will Smith, Andreessen Horowitz, Founders Fund, Canaan Partners, Shrug Capital, and angels from Facebook, Google, Twitter and Netflix.