Entrepreneurship helped me grasp how someone could work at a company with a toxic environment.
A few months back, a close friend and well-known entrepreneur within the tech community, invited myself and Mike, my partner and co-founder, out for a drink. We walked to New York’s South Street Seaport district, where we had been living at the time. While enjoying my milk stout, she made a comment about entrepreneurship that resonated so strongly,
“Starting a business has been the most difficult endeavor of my life. The highs will give you joy beyond compare and the valleys bring depths you’ve never fathomed.”
I’ve had the entrepreneurship bug from as early as I can recall. At age 6, I was pitching my delicious, gluten free, iced tea and lemonade to my thirsty neighbors. At age 8 I received my first “promotion”. My mother began to teach me the skills of wholesale negotiation and inventory management at our antique store, Perry’s Art Gallery, in Clinton, New Jersey.
In college, I put those skills to good use when I started a design and PR firm. Surprisingly, none of my early ventures lived up to the comment my friend made back in NYC. Aside from occasional self-loathing and bouts of cabin fever, which are the by-product of working around the clock from home. It made me ponder, how terrible can working for yourself possibly be?
Putting Your Personal Life On Hold
I’ve learned that while starting a company, advancement within your personal life is essentially put on hold. As if finding your soul mate wasn’t already challenging enough, you can forget about getting engaged, married or showering loved ones with fancy gifts. The balancing act of allocating time between family, work and friends is next to impossible. But that’s ok! Your friends and family will likely scale back spending time with you now that you are Penny-Pincher-Store-Brand-Single-Ply McGee.
As you watch everyone around you get engaged, married or pregnant, the only thing that keeps you motivated is convincing yourself that you’re just in a slingshot phase and when the time is right you will catch up with your peers.
The Professional Downfalls
If you’ve just started a company, advancement within the workplace is also pretty much over. Your primary goal then becomes getting people to care, about whatever it is that you’re doing. Yea it feels pretty damn good to update that LinkedIn Profile with CSO, CEO, COO, CRO … but OMG, that’s where the walk in the park ends.
Most of your peers are likely saving for a home, vacation property, looking for an investment opportunity or weighing the age they can retire at if they increase their company matched 401K to 20%.
Meanwhile, you’re trying to figure out if you really need that catastrophic health care plan for the next eight months. You’ve only ever had four stitches and you’re long removed from those little league days, so you should be all good!
Whether you believe something, nothing or everything, you get frustrated a bit when you start a company. If something in life can go wrong, it will, when you start a business.
Hypothetically even if you hit the gym two hours a day, five days a week and eat so organic that you feel dirty, you could get a hernia while sitting in the car on your company sponsored, self-funded, data-mining cross-country road-trip (ouch! should’ve got the health plan just above catastrophic). Having six people leave their well-paying jobs to take part in your dream is mentally taxing. You feel responsible for making sure their student loan payments and significant others are taken care of.
In the midst of your struggle after your friend has his or her second beautiful child and buys a stunning Porsche Cayenne Turbo, it’ll cross your mind,
Why the hell did I ever decide to leave a comfortable lifestyle with the dreams of making the world a better, happier place?
It is my personal belief that at the end of each day, after looking at the cyclone that has become your life, if aside from all the problems, you still choose to move forward, you’re probably doing it right.
Keep going, it is not in our DNA to fail, we only succeed or we learn. We were late on the electric bill this month so that’s all for now. Oh ya, being an entrepreneur and all I need to plug my company at some point. So check out my company’s free Workplace Happiness App – Happster.
Love you 💜
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