“Actually I’m an overnight success. But it took twenty years” – Monty Hall
Most people who dream of owning their own business, which according to some studies as much as 61% of Americans, understand that it takes a tremendous amount of work and sacrifice to start a business, at least conceptually. What they fail to understand is that their superhuman work often pays very little, at least at first.
Most people who have “made it” will tell you that it takes many months, even years, of toil before you start seeing the fruits. In the book Outliers Malcolm Gladwell promotes the “10,000-Hour Rule,” suggesting that you need to plan on spending 10,000 hours on a subject before truly mastering it. To get to 10,000 hours he estimates that for most of us it would take at least 10 years of intense labor.
School Doesn’t Count
But you’ve spent 16 years working at it already, in school getting a well-rounded education and then later in college learning about your profession. That has to count for something, right? Yes, somewhat, but not very much.
First of all, everyone else in your chosen business probably has about the same education as you. Second, entrepreneurship lacks the structure of school, and this lack of structure makes us uncomfortable. After all, the aim of school isn’t to train you to be an entrepreneur, it’s to train you to be an employee. In fact, this emphasis on being a great employee may be one of the prime limiting factors in encouraging people to be entrepreneurs.
You see, when you get to the end of your school career you think that you’ve made it. This is a mistake, building a business needs to be viewed as a long-term process.
But the baby needs diapers!
What’s the first thing you do after getting a job? New car, new house, get married, get kids, etc., you get financial obligations. Along with that it becomes more and more difficult to abandon income for a year or more while you work to build up your business. I have seen this way too much; when green entrepreneurs get disheartened at the lack of income and go back to the day job before they really have the chance to succeed. This may be why the average age for an entrepreneur to start a business is 39; they’ve had the time to put some capital away.
I remember one conversation I had with an entrepreneur in the restaurant business, he and his partner planned and saved for 10 years before opening their first restaurant. But don’t you delay, get started now with a business that requires less capital and earn you chops before moving on to bigger and better things.
Cut to the chase
“So what’s your point in a nutshell, Ty,” you ask. It’s that becoming an entrepreneur is like becoming a Green Beret. You will sweat, you will be physically and mentally uncomfortable, you will suffer from lack of sleep and anxiety but, if you’re tough enough to rough it out, you will earn the right to consider yourself a success and be a member of an elite club. Plus you might make beaucoup bucks!