When Being an Entrepreneur Isn't Sexy
When looking at the fabric walls of your small chunk of cubicle nation, it's easy to think that the entrepreneurial life is sexy. After all, anything seems sexier than staring at the gray-walls, white-ceiling combination that most cube farms sport. (See also: Is Now the Time to Start Your Own Business?)
While it may be true that the entrepreneurial life is the one for you, before you leave cube-sweet-cube, you should remember that the entrepreneurial life isn’t always sexy. In fact, there are times when the cube life seems damn sexy indeed. If you don’t believe me, consider the following scenarios.
1. When You’re Up All Night to Meet a Deadline
Granted, some employers make their employees do this sort of thing, too, but it’s much more common for entrepreneurs. Whether you take a huge job because it’s too good an opportunity to pass up, you take on a tight deadline because you need the money, or you’ve got to work at night because you played Wii all day, the morning after one of these all-nighters will leave you feeling worse than hung over. Definitely not sexy.
2. When You Can’t Buy Groceries Until You Get Paid
When you’re an entrepreneur, it’s easy to buy the line that the check is in the mail. Even if it really is, sometimes it can’t get to you soon enough. When you’re starving and standing in the grocery store looking at food you can’t buy while frantically checking your bank account to see if some money cleared, you’ll definitely feel something less than sexy.
3. When You Realize You Spent All Day in Your Pajamas
Entrepreneurial work can become all-consuming, particularly when you absolutely have to make money and don’t see how you can, or when you’ve taken on a large project that you now have to figure out how to do. When you’re working by yourself, for yourself, out of your home, it’s easy to roll out of bed and spend most of the day on the computer, only to roll back in bed at the end of the day. When you’re feeling rumpled, smelly, and downright nasty, sexy will be the farthest thing from your mind.
4. When It Dawns on You That Most of Your Recipes Contain Ramen
Now you’re past the point where you can’t afford food. However, there’s a time in many entrepreneurs' lives when cheap staples — rice, beans, Top Ramen — become central parts of the diet. There’s money in the bank, but not quite enough to buy that steak. The thought of bringing home a date (or, face it, your mother) and only being able to feed her beans and rice is somewhat less than sexy, too.
5. When You're Compromising to Make a Buck
Most entrepreneurs start out with high principles and a strong sense of calling. They have a vision for what they want to do, how they want to do it, and who needs their services. But when getting started takes longer than you’d hoped, it’s tempting to take contracts that aren’t exactly what you wanted to do simply because you’ll get paid for completing them. When you feel like a hack or like the reality of working for yourself is less than what you’d hoped for, it’s hard to feel like a sex god.
None of this is to say that you shouldn’t try the entrepreneurial life if it calls to you. But it’s good to have a reality check, so you remember the costs of all that freedom. Is it worth it? You’ll have to decide that for yourself.