Don’t Be an Entrepreneur

If you made it this far reading the article, congratulations, you already have one entrepreneurial trait in you. You can’t take “NO” for an answer. You like challenges and, you believe nothing is impossible.

A couple of months ago, I was invited to join a panel discussion with other “successful” entrepreneurs to share my story and give some tips to future entrepreneurs. I assumed the room would be filled with students or maybe people younger than me or around my age group (25–30). That wasn’t the case. The room was filled with mostly people above 35, who have had stable income and jobs for the last 8–12 years. Some of them in the audience, where people who always had ideas and wanted to start a company but they didn’t. Why? You may think. I don’t know. I believe there are 10 million reasons to not start a company and only one to start it and that is — “Because you want to and you have to.”

Having a good idea or even a great idea is just a dot on a vast 3 dimensional plane of entrepreneurship. It’s the easiest part as any successful entrepreneur can tell you from his or her experience. You have to get past that idea phase and nose dive into the execution phase, build a team, raise capital, convince people, convince yourself, burn the midnight oil, build networks, fall down, dust off pants and run again. And this is fun initially. It seems like living an exciting dream and your friends with boring routine jobs will despise your flexibility and you have no bosses. But trust me, its just a phase. Sooner than later, the tables will turn and you will envy your friends’ stable job and income, when you would be uncertain about how are you going to pay for your next month’s rent. This hurts more when you have a Master’s degree and you quit your high paying job on the first day. Read here on why Entrepreneurs do not have Dream Jobs.

Your hormones are on a wild oscillatory ride swinging between joy, anxiety, and depression. Your sleep patterns will vary anywhere between “No sleep” to “I cannot get up from this bed because I am a complete loser.” Even in your most normal form, you will appear to be a person who has either a hyperactive disorder or is a disinterested non-social startup geek. Your chaotic biological rhythms mixed with the debauched chemical reactions in your body coupled with the statistical probability of you failing in what you are doing is going to twist your neurological conditions in a way that you will doubt not only your choice of being an entrepreneur but your choice of “Being.” The only time you are sane is when you learn to not only just balance but also gait on a thin wire with “Existential crisis” on one side and “Critics and Cynics” on the other.

All human beings are entrepreneurs. When we were in the caves, we were all self-employed … finding our food, feeding ourselves. That’s where human history began. As civilization came, we suppressed it. We became “labor” because they stamped us, “You are labor.” We forgot that we are entrepreneurs.

- Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winner and microfinance pioneer

Reference: PBS interview with Muhammad Yunus

It is brutal. It’s about getting your hands dirty. It’s about waking up every day to create something beautiful just to read that a similar company like yours launched before you and raised even a million dollars in seed capital. If you can go ahead despite these, you are going to make it somewhere for sure. In 1899, when Henry Ford built his first car, he used 4 cycle wheels, it had severe problems of overheating and smoke and it had no capabilities of reverse and worse — No Brakes. In the same year, 57 other companies were formed that were trying to manufacture the world’s first commercial automobile. If only he stopped there, we wouldn’t have what we have today. Or worse, we would have had everything we have today but there would be no Ford. It’s about cutting through all the noise, soaring through stormy clouds, and accepting the power of your vulnerabilities.

We are true entrepreneurs when we are born but then unfortunately we grow out of it and start “Un-Entrepreneuring” ourselves and become adults. Remember your first baby steps despite the fear of falling down, your first bicycle ride, your multiple skateboard falls, you building strong sandcastles and not worrying about getting your hands dirty. If you can’t be all of that and if you can’t do these, please, DON’T BE AN ENTREPRENEUR!

Originally published at on March 12, 2015.