After playing soccer, I turned down an acceptance to grad school. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. I had a friend whom I played soccer with who had joined a startup, and I joined him there.
I fell in love with the startup vibe. Every day was dynamic. Every day, I felt like I was doing something to help them move the needle.
When we realized that everything we were doing in this startup could be applied to a different business, we went out on our own. We got a $10,000 loan from a family member to buy a computer; we worked out of my one bedroom apartment; we established a sell-to-live, then deliver-to-live model; we had one piece of collateral – a business card we made a Kinko’s. We had no investors. We had no advisors. It was day-to-day. The whole thing was about as true a garage start-up as possible.
Learning every new process on our own was like drinking from a firehose.
I will always say that it’s worth every bit of it, but what people don’t highlight enough is how hard it is – and that’s a disservice to entrepreneurs who deserve credit for what they’re doing and how hard it is.
It’s also a disservice to potential entrepreneurs swept up in media coverage of entrepreneurship who are convinced it’s a relatively straightforward and easy path.
I started out as an entrepreneur in a city like Charlotte in the late ‘90’s where more traditional work roles abound from prominent industries like finance. I would go to my daughters’ preschool events, and the inevitable question of what I did for a living would come up. When I would say “entrepreneur” or “I work with a startup”, I could almost feel the gross generalizations made about my career – ‘Oh, you couldn’t get a job at the bank’ as though all of this was a default option and not a choice.
If I know anything about entrepreneurship it’s this – entrepreneurship is a choice.
People fail to talk about how big the challenge of an entrepreneurial venture can be – literally, figuratively, emotionally, and spiritually. But, in the same respect, people fail to talk about just how much of a conscious decision you’re making when you choose to pursue this life.
Yes, it’s changing because of the rising presence of the successful entrepreneur; yes, it’s a tough ride with a lot of tough, ugly moments we don’t talk about, and, yes, it’s the greatest conscious choice you’ll make for your current life and your future.