Don’t Become an Entrepreneur (If You’re Not in It for the Long Term)
Famed Austrian graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister once coined the term “The Mantle of Bullshit” (in response to a proliferation of usage of the word “storyteller”). I believe the same thing is happening for a while now with people wanting to be an entrepreneur.
Now — don’t get me wrong. I love that more and more people consider entrepreneurship a viable career option. That the cost of starting a company have come down significantly (and continue to drop). That we have more (free and good) resources available for people to learn everything, there is about entrepreneurship (and thus increase their chance of success — at least in theory).
Where I get anxious is when I talk to folks who are considering starting a company lured by the high-gloss version of entrepreneurship they read in blogs, magazines or see on television. And maybe worse is the misconstrued version of “start-up reality” where those founders dream of exiting their company after a year or two (a la Instagram).
Reality is different.
It takes 7–10 years to build a company. Your chances of success are abysmally small. It is (mostly) a grind.
And yet (of course) — it is the best thing you can do. IF that is, you are in for the long haul. Which brings me to an important point: Please don’t start a company if you can’t see yourself doing this for the next decade. There are tons of great opportunities out there for you — become an early employee at a startup (arguably they are the unsung heroes of any startup anyway), join a cool big corp and help them stay relevant or find a mid-market company which you can contribute to transforming. But don’t become a founder if not every fiber in your body screams for you to start this business of yours and keep doing it until it will be successful — no matter what.
We need you at your full potential. Which might be as an entrepreneur — and can also be as a kick-butt employee.
P.S. There is a reason why I am not running my own company at the moment… :)