When Being an Entrepreneur Isn't Sexy

Photo: glindsay65

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.

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Meg Favreau's picture

After I started working from home, I noticed that I would dress a lot nicer than I used to for regular errands in order to counteract the feeling of spending most of the day in my pajamas/ridiculous-looking "no one is going to see this" work-at-home outfits.

Andrea Karim's picture

It's weird that no one else buys cat litter while wearing sequined high heels.

Andrea Karim's picture

When you realize that you can no longer afford health care! That's my big reason to remain a cubicle monkey for life. :)

Guest's picture
Guest from CA

Yes - I'm holding a regular job simply because I not only couldn't get individual health insurance (pre-existing condition, one real & one fabricated by the insurance company when they misread my records), even if I could have found some it would have been too costly.

When I did briefly work from home, I liked the flexibility of hours during the day - being able to interweave work & personal time to make it a more organic way of living - as opposed to the usual dichotomy between work time & home time.

Guest's picture

Yes all true, but as an entrepenuer who has paid his due, I look back now and say- I am so glad I left the cube 12 years ago. For the freedom alone- I vacation when I want, I am picking my son up a school for bike rides at least one day a week. i live where i want. Sure it is no less hours per week and the stress does stay more constant, but for me the trade- offs are worth it.

Guest's picture

Sexy! That's the last word it comes to my mind! I guess you can use that word when you are a rich and successful enterpreneur!

Guest's picture

Yes having your own business is not easy one must work hard to do it