The Cold, Hard Truth About Starting a Business

Scroll down ↓

You may have noticed I’ve been having a bit of fun spotlighting some other voices on the blog over the last few months. I love being able to add different voices and perspectives.

Today, I’ve got something different. Scott Gerber, author of the book Never Get a Real Job and founder of The Young Entrepreneur Council has taken a provocative stance on what Gen Y should and shouldn’t do in the quest to earn a living. And working for someone else, according to Gerber, is a fool’s game.

Scott’s allowed me to share this exclusive excerpt from his book below. As always feel free to build on the conversation he’s started in the comments…


Surviving a “Real” Day in the Life

There is absolutely nothing glorious or glamorous about starting a business. Don’t let the lifestyles of the rock star entrepreneurs or reality TV fool you. Forget about fancy offices, fast cars, and fat expense accounts. That level of success is rare and never built overnight. In most cases, it takes decades.

While launching a start-up is undoubtedly an exciting and liberating experience, managing the organization on a daily basis can be anything but a dream. If you let your visions of “the life” blind your good sense, you’ll find yourself disappointed and looking to quit with every misstep.

The entrepreneur’s lifestyle is not 9-to-5. Entrepreneurship is both a lifestyle and a state of mind. Becoming a business owner means that you’re becoming more than a person. The goal is to form a symbiotic relationship with your business—in effect, becoming your business.

Though the entrepreneurial lifestyle can be truly rewarding, you will only get out of it what you put into it. So give yourself completely to the cause. Reassess and rearrange your priorities. Figure out what’s truly important, and abandon what isn’t.

Need to work late hours? Do it!

Have to do grunt work to save cash? Hurry up and get it done!

Need to downgrade your lifestyle to accommodate your cash flow? Well, what are you waiting for?

That being said, don’t become an entrepreneurial martyr. The term “start-up” refers to the earliest phase of a business’s life cycle; it’s not where your business is meant to stay for all eternity. Every aspect of your company’s success will fall solely on your shoulders during its earliest stages, but this working methodology will be heavily taxing on your body, mind, and soul. It is not sustainable, and at some point, it will work against—rather than for—your business growth. Again, this is why it’s imperative that you work your ass off to get out of this developmental stage as quickly as possible. You want to get to the point where you can hire people and transition from being dependent on bus passes and chicken noodle soup into a stable business owner who works on—not in—his business.

Rise above the grind. Entrepreneurs can’t afford to see the world through rose-color glasses. You won’t be chauffeured in private black cars, no one will think you’re important, and rarely will you spearhead life-altering meetings. Chances are you’ll spend most days working out of your apartment, sending out countless introductory e-mails to prospective clients, and rationing takeout into multiple meals.

The reality is that the world is an unfair, unpredictable and full of hard knocks place where a day without a sale is one day closer to bankruptcy. There will be good days when you’ll feel like you’re king of the world and bad days where you’ll want to crawl up into the fetal position in a dark corner. There will be moments of victory followed by weakness, doubt, and defeat; times when you feel as though you can’t even think about your start-up for another second. You’ll undoubtedly fall down and won’t want to—or think you can’t—get back up. If you truly want to become a stable and successful self-employed business owner who lives on her own terms, there is only one thing I can say to you.

It’s your choice: Accept the entrepreneurial lifestyle for what it really is or go find a “real” job where you’ll never truly reap the benefits of your labor.

Don’t just sit there crying or looking for sympathy when things aren’t going your way; instead, figure out how to get back on track. If you find yourself in a dark hole because cash flow is drying up, dig yourself out by bootstrapping, and improving your marketing and sales tactics. If times get tough because of the economy, restrategize your price structure, retool your service offering to make sense under the conditions, and push forward with a new sales campaign geared to spin a negative moment into a positive bottom line.

Your days won’t be easy, especially in the beginning. However, if you work hard with passion and purpose, they’ll certainly be more fulfilling, rewarding, and fruitful than any “real” job. Never forget why you decided to become an entrepreneur in the first place. Many times, those convictions will serve as the only light at the end of the tunnel.

There is an “I” in team. As president, CEO, and chief bottle washer, you can expect to wear many hats; most of which you’ve never worn before or never even thought you’d try on. Perhaps this will be your first time writing a client proposal, or figuring out how to shoot a video for your Web site. Either way, my point is that some hats will fit right away—and others won’t fit at all. For those that aren’t so snug, fear not. You’ll figure it out. How am I so sure? Because in the beginning you have no choice but to figure it out. If you don’t do it, it won’t get done.

From photocopying to paying bills to cold calling, you’ll need to do everything in the earliest stages of your start-up. Don’t expect to be able to hire an assistant or intern right away; many times, you’ll have to do grunt work. Yes, it’s important to win bids for service contracts, but it’s equally important that you remember to fax the client an agreement, follow up on the status of unpaid invoices, and collect your fees.

No matter how remedial, unpleasant, or boring a task may be, you’ll have to master each process in your business from the bottom up—until you have the means to outsource, delegate, or eliminate them. If you’re a plumber, you need to be able to fix a toilet before you can teach an employee to do it in a manner to your standards. If you’re a childcare provider, it would behoove you not to work with the loudest or messiest kids; how else would you be able to teach your future employees how to handle such kids? Don’t let your ego and delicate sensibilities get in the way of getting things done. Do whatever it takes to be successful with your own two hands. The faster you grow your company on your own back, the quicker you’ll have access to more hands, options, and resources.

If you feel stumped or lost, take a deep breath, step back, and figure it out. Good advice and answers are always available; you just need to know who to ask, where to look, and be able to sift out the gold from the dirt.

Though entrepreneurship certainly isn’t easy, it’s not all that complicated either. At its very core, going into business for one’s self is the process of selling something to someone else. That’s it. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, calm yourself down by remembering that simple fact—and get back to basics.

Always sweat the small stuff. The smallest, seemingly insignificant issues have a funny way of snowballing into major disasters. Little blips on the radar once deemed unimportant may actually be warning signs of dangers on the horizon. For example, dismissing a cash-flow problem as the result of a slow, off-peak month—rather than further investigating to determine if your collections process is too lenient or your services are priced too low—might lead to real problems down the road.

Failure should never be an option if you were able to see it coming. Check each area of your business regularly. Look for improvements and work to fine-tune every element. Identify the real problems behind the small stuff before you find yourself getting ruined by the big stuff.

Win the war, not just a battle. Entrepreneurship is a daily game of kill or be killed, with high stakes: your livelihood and your future. For every triumph, there may be 10 defeats. There may be many rejections before your first sale. Lessons learned from a series of failed marketing tactics might be the reason you score big with a later, more informed campaign. Some days, you’ll take five steps backward for every step forward. However—at the risk of sounding cliché—it’s true that whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.

Mental fortitude and persistence are the keys to prevailing over adversity. Never retreat in the face of hardship or let the game kill you. Even the most successful entrepreneurs suffer sales and marketing setbacks and resistant marketplaces. Play to win instead. Find the balls you didn’t know you had and attack obstacles—and your competition—head on with only one mission in mind: complete and total annihilation.

Remember, it’s not how you fall down that defines you, but how fast and strong you get back up.


Learn more about Scott Gerber, his point of view and book, Never Get A Real Job.

Excerpted with permission of the publisher John Wiley & Sons, Inc.,, from NEVER GET A REAL JOB: How to Dump Your Boss, Build a Business, and Not Go Broke by Scott Gerber © 2011 by Scott Gerber

Join our Email List for Weekly Updates

And join this amazing community of makers and doers. You know you wanna...

44 responses

44 responses to “The Cold, Hard Truth About Starting a Business”

  1. Looks like a good read. So true being your own boss gets all hyped up. People don’t talk about the down and dirty of what it takes to survive!! That being said .. it is all about the smallest details to rise to the top in your field.

  2. I found this excerpt to be a very honest reality slap and I hope all potential entrepreneurs take it to heart. Deciding to play the game of business to win is a must and it’s also essential to move with the speed and swagger that Scott recommends. Find that place of “good mad” determination within and make your moves from there.

  3. Scott it was great meeting you briefly at the conference and even better reading this post this morning as all too often people think the world of entrepreneurship is glamorous – until they step into it.

    I agree you need to commit entirely to the cause but I definitely know those days we’re you’re on a rollercoaster – with a huge high that gets knocked out of the park by a big dip – all in the same day. Had one yesterday!

    That said I wouldn’t have it any other way and am prepared to make my suitcase entrepreneur lifestyle one that I can travel the world with and make an impact for other entrepreneurs as I go.

    Great advice and I’m sure your book will be a small business bible for years to come!


  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jonathan Fields, remarkablogger, Grant Griffiths, Suzan Gray, Adam King and others. Adam King said: Want the cold hard truth of starting a business? Here it is, care of @jonathanfields – […]

  5. Richard says:

    Great post, and thanks for the excerpt. Very true to my experience. I quit my “real” job in January to strike out as a free agent. With the exception of a couple of contracts that added up to less than $2000, by September I had nothing to show for my efforts. I was ready to throw in the towel, and actually applied for temporary work as an IRS tax examiner. (YIKES!) Then the seeds I had been planting and watering for the last nine months finally started to sprout. Contracts were signed, and this month I billed $6500 worth of business. Whoever said, “The darkest hour is just before dawn,” certainly knew what they were talking about.

  6. Faith McGown says:

    Just what I needed today! Thanks!

  7. greg kramer says:

    geez, is starting a plumbing company really about killing & death & annihilation

    doesn’t tom peters have it more correct that it’s about excellence … in fact, for a long time now he has been saying that women don’t want all the military virtues & they will dominate commerce in the 21st century

    see pam slim

  8. BZTAT says:

    I often wonder what it is that compels me to stick with being a self-employed artist, where it is living painting to painting instead of paycheck to paycheck. With my product being a so-called luxury item, sales can be unpredictable. This article reminds me why, and challenges me to keep on track. Thanks for the post.

  9. It’s a good thing I didn’t read this passage when I first started my business … it would have been too depressing. Of course, what he is saying is absolutely true but it’s still hard to read. Fortunately, I’m past the start-up stage and enjoying the rewards of a well established business. It was ridiculously hard work but if I was to do it all over again, I wouldn’t hesitate. I’d rather work for myself over someone else any day!!!

  10. While it’s great that Scott is being so direct and honest about the challenges of entrepreneurship, what I do sincerely dislike is the way in which he “devalues” what he refers to as a “real” job.

    I worked for others for nearly 20 years and now have my own business. I’ve seen both sides – both the pluses and the minuses. To me it’s about desire, personality, drive, and interests. Being an entrepreneur is not better than working at a company. It’s simply different. It is a different choice that does or does not make sense to the individual at that point in time. The choice that is most appropriate for them may be different at different points in their life. For myself, I worked in the corporate world first (nearly 20 years) and now for myself.

    There is great value and great rewards available in “real” jobs and the “real” world. In fact there are many individuals for which entrepreneurship is not a good fit. As Scott indicates, there are many challenges to overcome. You must have fortitude and believe in both yourself and what you are doing.

    I strongly dislike the cliché that “whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.” I’ve many more years, challenges and experiences than Scott that tells me this. Real life lessons, from the trenches both in the corporate world and as and entrepreneur. To me, sometimes the greatest strength comes from saying No, this did Not make me stronger…but that’s OK and I’ll move on. It’s the moving on that is critical.

    In my experience (both personal and observed), this cliché can add to individuals feelings of failure when they don’t feel, believe, or have the ability to come out stronger. It can, in the end, make a situation worse rather than help the person if you hold to tightly to that belief.

    Again, great that he is being realistic about the grind that entrepreneurship can be. I also wish that he was as realistic about the fact that a “real” job can be good for some people…and not just because of a steady paycheck.

    Part of my root concern, that there may be social pressures for Gen Ys where they feel they “ought to” be an entrepreneur. You should be an entrepreneur if there is something that are passionate about. If you have the internal drive and motivation to do so, not because it’s what your generation does. Isn’t that really the same as Boomers working in traditional structures because that is what their generation does?

    It’s about who you are, what you are passionate about, where you feel you can make an impact and yes, balancing all the dimensions of your life. Priorities change over time. Make sure you are doing the right thing for you at the right time, not just doing what you feel you “ought” to.

    • susan says:

      I concur.

      • This decision, whether to start your own business, is a critical one. It will impact you in one way or another for the rest of your life. It’s my hope that each of you make this decision based on what is right for you, not your Generation. This message stuck with me so strongly today that I had to write a blog about it.

        Here’s a link if you are interested.

        • Scott Gerber says:

          And I felt so strongly Faith was off-base I responded:


          I have to say. This is spoken like someone who truly has no understanding of what nearly 20% of Gen Yers are experiencing today–MASS unemployment. (That’s not to mention hundreds of millions of others worldwide that are underemployed). My tone aside, we must move into a society that teaches the values of creating a job to keep a job. Simply “sending resumes” hoping for a job is a passive exercise that in no way is productive or helpful to moving my generation’s career forward. I receive thousands of emails from young people all over the US looking for an alternative (even one today that has sent over 250 resumes with an MBA that cannot find a job after 2 years).

          Plain and simple: if we keep telling Gen Y to keep searching for jobs, and not look towards entrepreneurship as a valuable alternative, we are doing them a disservice.

          If you want to see more of my argument about this topic, read this recent BNET article where I further explain my position:

          Scott Gerber

          • Hello all, below is the my response to Scott (as posted over at my blog).

            Hi Scott – Thanks for spending the time to come and respond as well as providing the link for all of us. I promise I will go read your writing further.

            Let me reiterate, you have some great observations about what it really takes. That’s critical. Thank you for being honest and direct about the hard facts.

            There are three key points that raised real concerns while reading the extract and Jonathan’s comment.
            1 – “Real” jobs should not be devalued. They are an important part of our economy. They are the right choice for some people.
            2 – There are many critical factors that should be carefully weighed and evaluated when making this decision. Being unemployed may provide nice timing, but it is only one factor that needs to be evaluated. My concern is for those that jump in with entrepreneurship as the “final solution” when maybe it is a blended approach, a short-term solution, or something else. Depending on the business, individuals could end up in a worse financial situation than they were before. This does happen – more frequently than many realize.
            3 – That it’s not just a Gen Y thing. I would absolutely hate for someone to feel like they were “suppose” to be an entrepreneur because that is “what their generation, Gen Y does”. This can feel like social pressure. Again, make the choice based on what is right for the individual, where they are in life, their goals and objectives.

            I absolutely do understand the unemployment challenge, absolutely. It’s not just a Gen Y issue, not even close. People with MBAs and years experience can’t find jobs. I have many, many friends and colleagues on the hunt and have been there myself. I myself have dealt with being laid off, the resume game (which is absolutely demoralizing), and starting up a business. I thought long and hard about it and sometimes still question if it was the right choice.

            I agree with your plain and simple statement, that to not look towards entrepreneurship is a disservice. My message is rather that it is critical that you understand what you are doing, make an educated choice, know the benefits, costs, and alternatives. Don’t just jump on the entrepreneur bandwagon because that is what Gen Y does.

            ALL generations should be considering entrepreneurship. We need more entrepreneurs and to stoke the bricks and mortar of the nation.

            A few other additional pieces of information…

            Carol Roth has reviewed my article – she’s determining best place and way to respond. As an additional piece of information, Carol is launching a new TV show in Chicago shortly. Scott – it would be interesting to have you on the show to dialog with her. If you are a entrepreneur in the Chicago area, you might also reach out to her. I know that she is begining to work on her line-up of guests.

            I’ve also reached out to Jim Estill to see if he might weigh in with a few words. For me, this is a healthy and important discussion.

    • I understand where you are coming from here, Faith.

      It’s true. There is a job for everyone out there where they would enjoy it so much that they would feel in some sense that they are an entrepreneur.

      For some people, working for a company works, for others, it’s gotta be the path of the bootstrapper. It comes down to letting our intuition guide us, with the goal of serving others as our axis point.

      I also feel, as a few others said here, that spending at least a few years if not more in a company environment to learn your industry is extremely valuable, as opposed to jumping straight into the pursuit of building your own business.
      Those who have the real world corporate experience, or with a smaller business, have a distinct advantage of knowing how things work, quite simply, so if and when they strike out on their own they have a head start.
      But again, whatever works as Larry David via Woody Allen said!
      You all make good solid points though.

      Best wishes,


    • Dom says:

      hi Faith, your comment is one of the best I’ve read in a long time (Matt’s is pretty good too).

  11. Matt says:

    Wow…this really bothers me. Some of the advice sounds great, but I seriously dislike the attitude. In particular, this idea of absolutism around not getting a real job is ridiculous. Would Mark Benioff have been as successful if he hadn’t worked FOR Larry Ellison, and learned some really essential lessons before going off to start

    As someone who works at a job that isn’t entrepreneurial, I reap plenty of benefits for my work. Just because the benefits are of little or no value to one person, doesn’t mean that another person won’t find them valuable. As well, some of us don’t really want to spend all our time building a business. For example, I’d rather work a 9-5 Monday-Friday job that I like, and spend time with my friends and family. That is at least as noble a goal as building some grand business. I’m not saying that the entrepreneurial lifestyle he espouses is invalid, it just isn’t for me.

    I am part of Gen Y, and I refuse to be painted with such a broad brush as this. It is completely out-of-line for the author to suggest that an entire generation should follow his way of doing things. Maybe the rest of the book is less dogmatic, but comparing this quote to another interview with the author I read on BNet, I suspect that’s not the case.

  12. Scott Gerber says:

    oung people must overcome youth unemployment by taking on the roles of small business owners. The mantra of ‘work hard, get good grades, go to school to get a good job’ is dead and inapplicable to my generation. We are no longer a hand-out, resume driven society. It’s time we take control of our own lives and our own careers and become the most entrepreneurial generation in history.

    Here are two articles (disclaimer one I wrote and the other I’m interviewed, but I think they are totally relevant to the conversation) that can help young people get on the right track.

    10 Rules for Young Entrepreneurs to Live By (

    10 Ways To Ditch Your Job And Never Work For Anyone Else Again (

    We cannot let Gen Y become the lost generation, but we also cannot keep believing that we are just “destined to find our jobs of choice” because we have a sheet of oaktag and tens of thousands in students loans. Now more than ever it is apparent that the new economy requires we create a job to keep a job.


    • Matt says:

      I agree that is one solution, but if you think that working for someone else involves passing out resumes and crossing your fingers, then I suspect you may not be getting the whole picutre.

      I’ve seen plenty of people do that (and not just Gen Y), and I’ve also seen lots of people really work hard at getting a particular job that they wanted. You can make a job out of getting a job, and that’s just as valid as making a job out of starting a business.

      Positions at companies other than one you start yourself can provide a LOT of valuable lessons, which can make success more likely if & when a person decides to start their own business.

  13. Elana says:

    If this were a book review I would heavily spatter the clip with words and phrases such as: ‘unflattering’, ‘defecating on the proletariat’ and ‘completely arrogant’. While I appreciate the ‘here’s the truth about being CEO of yer own biz’ angle, the very suggestion that one cannot lead a life worthy of the fruit of their labour without slogging one off eating take-out and pandering to a target demographic really PISSES me off. Because, honey, it just ain’t true.

  14. Jonathan Fields says:

    Love the conversation here, guys!

    I have some pretty strong feelings on the issue as well, but I’m taking a back seat in this conversation because I am not Gen Y and, since plenty of people in my tribes are, I’m a lot more curious to hear the points of view of those who are living through the very challenges Scott is speaking to in real time.

    So share away (just keep it respectful, as always). 😉

  15. Dr. Chris says:

    I love this article…rings very true for me. For the first time in 26 years, I finally graduated from school in Dec of 2009. Started a business in May. Am making some income, and it is completely dependent on my efforts. Scary and exciting at the same time.

    Being Gen Y, I have to admit that I feel lucky to start it this young, before I have a serious girlfriend and a family, which I absolutely want in life. Don’t see how I’d be able to prioritize the time.

    Appreciate you Mr. Gerber!

  16. […] book called Never Get a Real Job written by Scott Gerber.  If you would like to see the extract, click here.   While I appreciate the fact that Scott is direct and honest about the challenges of […]

  17. Marti says:

    I am generation .. ummmm… Well, that’s depressing. I am too old to even be a boomer. But I have started three businesses in my lifetime. Reinventing ourselves is one of the most fun things we can do.

    But Scott is right. One of the perks of having your own business is that you get to work 80 hours a week instead of 40. But the reality is that those 80 hours are fun, and maybe your 40 hours working for someone else may not be.

    If all that hard work isn’t fun, you’re doing it wrong, and maybe shouldn’t be doing it at all. And the other responders are right, too. Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. It isn’t for everyone. Being an entrepreneur is a mindset, not an inborn set of abilities.

    A reality facing us all today is that there are not enough jobs, and certainly not enough great jobs, to go around, and creating one’s own business is one option that should be seriously considered.

    If you reach the place where you think in terms of ‘creating money’ instead of ‘earning money’, or ‘working for money’, then you are ready to start a business.

    Great article. You young whippersnappers rock my socks!

    • Marti – Love the view from someone who has been there, done that, more than once. LOVE the hat and the attitude that goes with it. If you want to know the “label” you have, the generation before the Boomers were called “Veterans.” This country was founded by many great entrepreneurs…even before those of the Veteran “generation”. To me, it’s less about your age and more about your attitude. Rock on. Faith

  18. Koby Ackie says:

    Having worked in a start-up where we have gone from about 5 people to about 50 in less than two years. I understand the heartaches involved in growing a business.

    The range of emotions that one experiences is immense. This post is great “reality check” associates with the “stardom” of the entrepreneur. Good Post.

  19. I agree with the broad strokes of Scott’s argument. The days of the lifetime job with a single employer are far behind us, and recent college grads should expect to take more ownership for their careers and be more flexible in their approach than their parents. Those trends would encourage an entrepreneurial mindset, whether that involves working for yourself, someone else, with a partner, or a mix of these and other approaches over time.
    One challenge I see among recent college grads with limited work experience is focusing their energies on a business idea. On our small business blog, we wrote a four-part series on how to launch a business, starting with advice on finding an idea. (If interested:
    Thanks for starting this great conversation.
    Jay B. (Intuit)

  20. Nat Allan says:

    I think it’s great that people are getting a bit spirited about Scott’s critique of 9-5. Busting apart both the myths around 9-5 and being an entreprenuer is a great way to get people thinking about what might work for them. 4 years into ‘start up’ I’m starting to realise the personality difference between entrepreneur and 9-5 worker and even between entrepreneur and simply a business owner (franchisor vs franchisee). It’s a mad world out there for Gen Y and I think it’s important for them to have options opened up and myths busted; especially given the employment situation.

    For those who really get offended at the critique of 9-5 remember that to change a way of thinking takes people standing way outside the square. When entrepreneurial spirit is taken seriously in the school system, taught and encouraged alongside ‘careers’ and not seen as a form of ‘madness’ we might be getting somewhere. (I’m in New Zealand and it’s woefully neglected) Choices are only choices when we actually have them and many these days don’t have a job unless they create one.

  21. Hello,

    Thanks so much for this posting. Today was one of those days that I needed to be reminded to go back to the basics and remember why I started this race, so that I can stay in it and eventually win. Great post!


  22. Dom says:

    Stimulating blog and comments. Faith’s comments are among the best I’ve read in response to any blog.

    Someone once said that being an entrepreneur is working for yourself 16 hours a day, so you don’t have to work for someone else 8 hours a day. Most people who start their own business massively underestimate the hours you need to put in.

    But the number of hours is only the tip of the iceburg. There’s the intensity of the decisions you have to make, the very real and numerous pitfalls that await you, the risk of making bad decisions that could set you back 6 months or a year.

    The notion that working for yourself is inherently superior than being an employee is a bit dubious I think. How can everyone become an entrepreneur? There need to be a majority of people being employed, to work for entrepreneurs.

    The notion that being an entrepreneur will make you more fulfilled and/or more wealthy, again is only true in some cases. I know many people who are employees who have much more richly rewarding professional lives (and earn a lot more) than many self-employed people. It’s an individual thing. Absolutely impossible to generalise.

    One valuable lesson Scott Gerber’s blog post teaches is that it’s not easy working for yourself. Many people become self-employed because they resent working hard, and think that if there’s no boss breathing down their neck they’ll coast along and reap lots of profits for themselves. These are among the people whose small businesses fail within the first year.

    But the cruel reality of entrepreneurship is that even working insanely hard is no guarantee of success. Working smart is just as (if not more) important.

    • Thank You Dom for the kind words.

      Your comment about intensity is spot on as is your observation that some become self-employeed because they resent hard work.

      The following statement by Scott was also spot on as it relates to this issue “The entrepreneur’s lifestyle is not 9-to-5. Entrepreneurship is both a lifestyle and a state of mind. Becoming a business owner means that you’re becoming more than a person. The goal is to form a symbiotic relationship with your business—in effect, becoming your business.” Many do not understand this and often this is where things break down. You have to look in the mirror and honestly ask yourself if this is really, really what you want to do or is it simply an means to an end.

      We all have different value systems. What’s important is to understand your own value system and work to support it. That’s part of “being authentic”.

  23. jason says:

    I’m starting up a business but have one major problem. I’m very creative with ideas, horrible with numbers. How do I find someone to help me with ny books that I can trust. I don’t really want to work with family, probably would cause more problems.

    • Jason –
      My recommendation for your first step is to sit down and make a list of the tasks and activities you want to get support for. Really understand what skills you are looking for. Then think about the time requirements. Then ask yourself if there are specific personality characteristics that would be of benefit to you or that you need to avoid. Once you have a good handle on what you are looking for, I’d start talking to small business owners near where you live and/or work. Get insights into their experiences – both good and bad. Trust will be critical for this role. Based on your comments, I would agree that family does not sound like the right choice for you. It may be for others. Good luck.
      P.S. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce too.

  24. Brad Gosse says:

    Wow I need to send this to the people who think business owners have no worries.

    I love posts like these because they cut through the BS about being an entrepreneur. The freedom is sometimes the only thing to hold onto when the chips are down.

    I wouldn’t trade my worst day as an entrepreneur for my best day as an employee 🙂

  25. I read a post with a surprising title, considering the author runs his own business: “7 Reasons Why You Need to Work for a Big Company”. It gets back to my earlier post that it’s more important to bring an entrepreneurial mindset to your work than necessarily become an enterpreneur, depending on your goals, skills, and personality.
    Here’s that article:

  26. This was such a good read. I rarely get consumed by an article the way this one captured me. I have been doing many of the things mentioned for the past 3 years and I agree with every point. I also coach brand new business owners telling them to be prepared for the long journey ahead.

    I just filmed a video review of this post and suggested to all of my readers and clients that they check out this article. Thanks for such a valuable source of content.


    • Thanks Popovic, I found this post through your site. Glad you decided to share it. I strongly agree with these brutally true realities of entrepreneurship. It takes more than a dream to succeed in business, it takes a never relenting will to do what is necessary at all time.

  27. Dan Lew says:

    I think John Chow mentioned he worked 9 months in his whole life and the rest of his life he worked for himself and yet me makes 40k per month blogging, I am a bit the same, although I have worked for others I have always had a tendency to do my own thing and this has been very successful for me.

    I will however point out that without the experience I gained working for others it would not have got me to where I am today so as for that I have no regrets!

  28. Natan says:

    A very honest depiction of the online marketing world that’s been as jazzed up as the hipey sales pages you’ll encounter. I’ve found that creating accountability around what you’re doing is a great way to keep you focused and motivated on an objective. Those who think that maintaining a business isn’t going to be a lot of work are in for a rude awakening.

  29. Cory says:

    Wow! sorry I happened into THESE conversations a little late! I’ve been on both sides of this fence. As my work life evolved, I realized I was constitutionally incapable of working “for” other people. At first, I think I became an entrepreneur more because I knew what I did NOT want more clearly than what I DID want. I did not want to be told what my clients needed by someone who knew nothing about them; I did not want my financial destiny to be determined by a formula into which I had no input, and I didn’t want to work with unhappy, resentful, stressed out colleagues and staff. Since my “industry” is health care I didn’t think what I wanted was unreasonable…but it sure was hard to find in any “corporate” model or large organization.

    So I went absolutely beserk and went out “on my own”, found 2 like-minded, insanely brilliant partners, and hatched an egg which took 10 years of grueling hard work and agonizing self discovery. Because, of the 3 of us, I made the best “HR” manager, I got to set the moral and morale tone for our office. Today the partnership is in a different configuration and I am president, with a terrific new partner. And I have to say, there are people who are cut out for this, and, thank god for me, there are people who are not.

    Were there not some people whose need was for a stable fair creative service-oriented place to earn a living, we would not have an incredible team of people making this happen every day. Services that require a team of people cannot be run by an association of entrepreneurs.

    That said, I regularly remind our staff that while their service to our clients and company are more than appreciated, they are each responsible for their own destinies, cultivating their own talents, and leaving me in the dust if they have a better idea. I praise them for owning their own jobs and doing anything they can to smooth operations, delight clients, or make us look good.

    My staff crosses multiple generations, but I think the human need for appreciation, recognition, and self determination are ageless. If they can’t find that working on our team, I WANT them to follow their call elsewhere.

  30. People have to understand that this is no different from any other career they could pursue. There will be hardship, there will be expenses and it doesn’t help that there are many “turn-key” solutions out there that promote a push-click answer to something that actually requires so much more than that. Thank you for your words and for sharing your valuable insight with would-be entrepreneurs. Everyone needs a dose of reality.