Its not really such a great thing to be an entrepreneur. There’s no real “freedom” in it. People think that starting your own business gives you freedom. It doesn’t. When you work a corporate job where you only, realistically, work for 1-2 hours a day and you can leave your work at the office, then you have freedom.
Entrepreneurship == slavery. You are a slave to employees, partners, investors, a board, clients, potential buyers, reporters, landlords, random people off the street who try to come into your office and rob you, etc
On quora recently someone asked “When can I call myself an entrepreneur”. I’m happy to share some general guidelines:
If someone hasn't had this experience, they shouldn't call themselves an entrepreneur:
Lying awake at 3 in the morning wondering about:
A) I think I have to kiss a lot of ass tomorrow. Note to self: bring up with therapist that I never really feel like "the real me" anymore.
B) how am I going to make payroll next week
C) how do i solve the fact that Wade (employee #6) now has a bad attitude that is spreading to the others (i.e. they smoke cigarettes in stairwell discussing reasons they hate me. I know this because I tape-recorded it).
D) How do I deal with the complaints from client #1 about employee #3?
E) How quickly can I package this company up to sell the damn thing so I can sleep again
F) The site is too slow. How can i find a programmer who knows what he's doing.
G) I have 8 new features in my head. Can I get them up on the site within 24 hours
H) I missed the insurance payment. I hope to god none of my employees get hit by a car this month.
I) Why won’t Client #2 pay his bills on time. Should I hire someone to break his legs?
J) Is it me? Do I need to improve my sales technique? Do I need to donate to someone’s charity again?
K) Why do I feel every pulse of my blood running through my whole body right now?
L) Is it 6am yet? Oh shoot, its only 3:05am. I've been thinking about all this stuff for only 5 minutes. Should I get up and work or try to sleep. I'll try to sleep. I'll count sheep. But only after I figure out how to make payroll.
M) My competitors are all better than me. And they all go to parties where they meet clients and make money.
N) Can I introduce my potential client to a potential girlfriend?
O) How come we didn’t get enough publicity for our launch? Is it because I’m not cool enough?
Oh, and if you have never used these phrases you shouldn't call yourself an entrepreneur:
- "I don't like to say anything bad about my competitors. They are all good guys and I respect their work. After all, this is a big enough field that we’ve all become friends. But perhaps the one difference we have with them is..." (to potential client)
- "The pay is not a lot right now but this is only temporary while we look at putting you into more of a management position." (to potential employee)
- "This particular job is not fun but we have some fun stuff coming up that we can put you on." (potential employee again. He is about to get screwed).
- "I can get that done by end of the week, no problem" (thinking: by end of month or two, no problem)
- "of course you have insurance" (to employee. Please dont get sick that week)
- "we have plans to open offices in various parts of the world" (to potential buyer, in front of map with pins in China, Paris, London, NYC, LA).
- "just come inside and sit at a desk" - to random people walking in street right before potential buyer of company visits
- "we want to work with you. Just tell us what you can pay and we'll be happy." (to get client to say 'yes' before you start telling him about add-ons)
- “of course its legal”
- (to secretary when taking prospective client out to lunch, in front of prospective client) "HOLD ALL CALLS. I don't want to be bothered at all for the next two to four hours. This is a very important lunch!"
- "We can do that" (to anyone who asks you about anything)
- "I'm going to be personally involved in this project." (me, to anyone)
- “your sales should triple after this” (to client who hires us)
- “I agree with you completely. I’m going to improve that.” (to client who tells you why he doesn’t like you)
- “chances are electricity in NYC will keep running on Jan 1, 2000 if you hire us” (I said to Con Ed, when hiring us for a Y2K project)
Oh, and you can’t call yourself an entrepreneur until:
- You’ve logged at least 60,000+ useless air miles (in a 3 month period)
- You cry with hands over your head thinking, ‘what the hell did I just do’ (remind me to tell you about the time I met Tupac’s mom)
- You get a crush on at least one employee
- You’ve gotten a 4 page email from an ex-employee listing all of the reasons they don’t like you anymore (now friends with that ex-employee)
- You realize you’ve suddenly been defriended on facebook by a reasonable chunk of ex employees)
- You think of four new businesses you’d rather be starting than this stupid one.
Howard Lindzon called me while I was writing this to see how I was liking the new blog design his guys did for me. I figured I’d add to the 53 things I’ve learned from Howard Lindzon so I asked him, “Howard, how do you know when you can call yourself an entrepreneur?”
I was sort of disappointed in his answer:
“You can call yourself an entrepreneur when you wake up at 3am and you are super excited to get to the office and begin the day.”